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An early case of autism

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Ben Per­rick was 10 years old when Dr. Leo Kan­ner, the Johns Hop­kins Uni­versity psy­chi­at­rist cred­ited with dis­cov­er­ing aut­ism, dia­gnosed him with the dis­order. His par­ents fol­lowed Kan­ner’s ad­vice to place Per­rick in a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion. At the time, aut­ism was not a widely re­cog­nized dia­gnos­is. Oth­er doc­tors later re­labeled Per­rick schizo­phren­ic.

The first part of this doc­u­ment is Kan­ner’s ori­gin­al eval­u­ation from 1954. The second part con­sists of an in­ter­view and notes from a 1959 meet­ing of doc­tors re­view­ing Per­rick’s case at the Nor­ris­town State Hos­pit­al, where he spent the rest of his life.

Published: Dec. 15, 2011
Credits: Ben Welsh, Alan Zarembo
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