Autism in general

Autism in general
International Classification (ICD) F84.-


Kanner syndrome (early childhood autism) is a pronounced personality disability that manifests itself in the form of contact disorders with caregivers and also other people. Those affected are often unable to look anyone in the eye, have difficulty reacting to feelings and emotions, and withdraw into their own world. In addition, autism is often accompanied by motor and mental development disorders. The disease usually manifests itself in infancy, where it is not always recognized immediately.

0.2% of children in Germany suffer from this form of autism, boys are affected more often than girls.


The causes have not been definitively clarified. It is believed to be genetic influences and changes, as autism is clustered in some families and none to rare in others.

In a large study at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, scientists found that more than 65% of autistic children had a particular genetic variant. The leaders of the study suggested that the cause in 15% of autistic people was due to the gene segment between CDH10 and CDH9, which is important for linking neurons in the brain.

The British doctor Andrew Wakefield claimed that a vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, had been responsible for cases of autism. This view was never substantiated and his publication was withdrawn.


The affected children slip into their world of thoughts and try to avoid contact with their fellow human beings, such as parents and siblings.

The autistic children often appear cold and emotionless. It seems as if it means nothing to them if their parents are angry, angry, or even happy and loving. Understandably, the parents also suffer because the offspring often do not even make eye contact with them. They are also less able to interpret facial expressions and have problems understanding feelings.

Impaired language development Early childhood autism is often accompanied by impaired language development. Typical for such children is a monotonous tone of voice. Supportive facial expressions and gestures are also weak and vocabulary is limited. Sometimes they use words incorrectly and interchange pronouns for example "I" instead of "you". Other characteristics of early childhood autism are repetitive actions. For example, they repeat phrases (echolalia) or repeat certain movements with their hands. Often these children manically collect random objects and then arrange them in order of size. Interruption of their actions can in turn lead to anxiety outbursts.

Decreased intelligence

Using age-appropriate intelligence tests, it has been found that 75% of those affected have diminished intelligence. In early childhood autism, specific giftedness, such as a photographic memory or special mathematical abilities, is very rare. Such things are more likely to be found in Asperger's syndrome.

Other symptoms that are not related to reduced intelligence are, for example: frequent sleeping and eating disorders, anxiety when the environment changes, laughing for no reason, incorrect assessment of dangerous situations or self-injurious actions.


Diagnosis of this disease is made by the doctor after discussions with parents and after repeated observation of the child. It can be made only if several of the above symptoms occur simultaneously.

The doctor gets quick clues when he tries to make eye contact with the toddler and observes him playing. It is important that these "tests" take place in familiar as well as in new rooms. It is also important to check intelligence. When the patient is 5 years old, it is helpful to take an EEG (electroencephalogram). This can help to find possible forms of epilepsy, as well as other unusual features.

Before early childhood autism is diagnosed, other possible conditions must be ruled out. These include; atypical autism and Rett syndrome, where in addition to the symptoms of Kanner syndrome, there is also a decrease in previously learned skills.

In order to simplify the diagnosis, standardized questionnaires have proven to be useful.


Since the cause of this disease is often difficult to find and cannot be treated, one tries to treat symptom-oriented and to support the parents. The best results are achieved when treatment is started particularly early.

Therapy focus

- Learning social skills and communication with others is trained using behavioural therapy methods.

- With the framework of TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children) one tries to help the children to become more independent.

- In order to get along with people, it is important to have self-control, to be able to distinguish one's own thoughts from reality and to understand the feelings of others. It is tried to train these qualities by therapies.

- Speech therapy exercises facilitate the ability to communicate through better expression and understanding of speech.

- Movement therapies, such as gymnastics but also music or animal therapy can help the children in their development. Parents must learn how to deal with an autistic child and how best to support him or her. Special training and education have a supportive effect here.

Drugs are only used for symptom treatment (epileptic seizures, aggressiveness,...).


Early childhood autism is a lifelong disorder. Often, the symptoms decrease with age due to therapies, only in adolescence can the aggressive behavior intensify.

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All information used for the content comes from verified sources (recognised institutions, experts, studies by renowned universities). We attach great importance to the qualification of the authors and the scientific background of the information. Thus, we ensure that our research is based on scientific findings.
Danilo Glisic

Danilo Glisic

As a biology and mathematics student, he is passionate about writing magazine articles on current medical topics. Due to his affinity for facts, figures and data, his focus is on describing relevant clinical trial results.

The content of this page is an automated and high-quality translation from DeepL. You can find the original content in German here.



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