Leo Kanner studied and described early infantile autism in humans in the US during the twentieth century. Though Eugen Bleuler first coined the term autism in 1910 as a symptom of schizophrenia, Kanner helped define autism as a disease concept separate from schizophrenia. He helped found an early child psychiatry department in 1930 at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Kanner revised criteria for diagnosing autism, beginning with his article Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact in 1943, and he helped reclassify autism as a disorder caused by defective neurological development.
Leo Kanner published Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact in 1943 in the journal Nervous Child. This article described the cases of eleven children with autism. Kanner described the behavior and upbringing of each child, aged two to eight, as well as the educational backgrounds of the children's. Though Eugen Bleuler, a professor of psychiatric at the University of Z rich and director of the Burgh lzli Asylum in Z rich in Z rich, Switzerland from 1898 to 1927, was first to use the term autism to describe of a symptom of schizophrenia, scientists cite Kanner's article as the first description of autism as a unique disease concept distinct from schizophrenia. One of the most cited articles about autism in the twentieth century, this article was the first to demarcate Kanner syndrome, which later called childhood autism. Researchers, including Kanner, eventually treated early infantile autism as a disorder resulting from abnormal development of the autistic children's brains.
In 1943, child psychiatrist Leo Kanner in the US gave the first account of Early Infantile Autism that encouraged psychiatrists to investigate what they called emotionally cold mothers, or refrigerator mothers. In 1949, Kanner published Problems of Nosology and Psychodynamics of Early Infantile Autism. In that article, Kanner described autistic children as reared in emotional refrigerators. US child psychiatrists claimed that some psychological or behavioral conditions might have origins in emotional or mental stress, meaning that they might be psychogenic. Kanner described autism's cause in terms of emotional refrigeration from parents into the early 1960s, often attributing autism to the lack of parental warmth. In the 1960s, Bernard Rimland in the US and Bruno Bettelheim in Austria disagreed on the role of psychogenesis in autism. Rimland suggested that autism's cause was rooted in neurological development, while Bettelheim continued to emphasize the role of nurturing during early childhood. Nevertheless, many mothers reported that they felt a deep sense of anguish and resentment toward child psychiatrists who often made them feel as if they were to blame for their children's autism.