Category Archives: Daily Writings

The Early History of Autism

In one part of the article they talk about a 59 year old man named Billy who was showing signs of Autism. Most people called him an idiot, and even though he wasn’t completely normal, he still was really good in some ways with his cognitive skills. He also could remember 200 tunes perfectly. I just thought that it was really interesting that even though there were things he couldn’t do, he was still very good at certain things. It was just weird how he had certain abilities but not others.

Autism Reading

In today’s reading, it stated that decades ago, doctors have struggled with patients who are intellectually disabled. Back then, most called them “idiots”– because they did not know any better– and did not seem to think there was hope with these types of patients. There were no special schools or educational programs to help them prosper. Many of these patients were mentally challenged in some areas, but were extremely knowledgable (more than the average human) in other areas, which bewildered many physicians. For example, one patient was unable to speak properly in social situations, but was phenomenal with numbers and mathematical equations. Today, this is called “autism.” With the help of the main doctor mentioned, Howe, he was able to provide for these patients and build educational spaces for them to succeed in their lifetime.


Autism is a mental disability that has been around for a long time. Writings from before the Civil War describe many cases of what is now known as autism. Autism has no exact definition. Individuals thought to have autism show varying symptoms. For example, some individuals show an amazing understanding of numbers while others can only count to ten.

Autism On My Mind

The article discusses the early history of how autism was “discovered.” Many believed that people who portrayed signs of what is known today as autism, were idiots. Idiots was a medical term that meant someone was intellectually inferior and incapable of learning. Nonetheless, a doctor observed these socially incompetent people and believed that they were not dumb at all because they were able to perform tasks that showed intellectual ability, such as counting and multiplying. Following this realization, other doctors, including Howe, opened education facilities for people with autism.

Autism Article Summary

This article opened up with Billy, a man from a New England town in the late 1800’s, undergoing a check up from a doctor recording his characteristics and idiosyncrasies with relation to his “idiocy”. The fact that Billy, and many others before the 1920’s exhibited remarkable mental abilities despite their awkward mannerisms with social interactions and comprehension of certain elements in their environments serves as a basis for the article to argue that autism rates might not necessarily be on the rise, rather, its recognition and scope by which it is diagnosed has merely increased.

Never Look Down Upon Anyone

People who have mental disabilities should never be looked down upon.  These people were looked down upon in early times for having different physical features and lacked some types of communication skills.  However, what some skills these people lacked, they had an advantage at other skills such as memorization of musical tunes.  Some of these people were greatly recognized for their skills and made the way the public bundled them to the term “idiots” highly offensive.

Today’s Reading Summary

This article focused on autism, and the path to it being named a condition. Certain individuals who were observed to have a different style of thinking were labeled “idiots”, although with a different connotation that it has today. Over time, observations led to the naming of the condition, autism. People with autism may not seem intelligent because of the way they interact with others, but may be brilliant in mathematics. It is quite interesting to see the journey of the diagnosis of autism.


The article we read about detailed the history of autism and how it has become more recognized overtime. The author points out a figure in history named Howe, who was a social activist. He first set about helping the blind learn. After success in this realm, he went on an taught “idiots.” Although Howe was not comfortable using the term idiot because many of the individuals he studied showed talent in a specified field. For example: in one case, a man had the talent of perfect pitch. Howe went on to create a school for “idiots.” These “idiots” many times would be labeled as autistic in present day.

Autism reading

The previous night’s reading consisted of stories about the development of autism awareness in America through both stories of individual cases and through a more general lens describing the American society’s changing views. We began reading an anecdote on an early researcher who investigated mental illness in a time when autistic individuals were called “idiots” and were denied many basic human rights. The article described how a scientist opened a famous school to educate the blind and those with mental illness, as he believed in the idea that all people are teachable.

Idiots or not?

This article talked about the history of autism and how it has actually been around for way longer than the term has even been in use. Back then, people with intellectual disabilities or people who acted differently than the norm were referred to as “idiots”. The term had a different connotation back then than it did now so it wasn’t meant to be super demeaning but a way to describe such people. A doctor realized that there was more to these people so he decided to travel and examine anyone called an “idiot” and measure different things about them. A certain person named Billy was looked at, and the doctor noticed that he had profound musical talents despite his social unawareness and intellectual stuntedness. This was just one example of how autism was around a long time ago (and was beginning to be recognized) and that it is more than just intellectual disability.