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"Rain Man's" disorder and genetics.


Ongoing research efforts suggest that there are genetic and physiological bases for the development of autism, rather than emotional factors. The disorder, whose term was first coined in 1943 by Dr. Leo Kanner, then a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, was brought into sharp public focus recently as a result of Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of an autistic man in the film "Rain Man." Kanner's original concept of the background development supporting development of the condition focused on parents who were "intelligent, obsessive, perfectionistic, and humorless people who use set rules as a substitute for life's enjoyment."

Recent studies have focused on the potential of chromosomal abnormality as a primary causative factor, although definitive proof has yet to be established. There is, however, enough information to suggest the possibility, even though the exact culprit is unknown. (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 2, 1989; 261:21:3067.)
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Title Annotation:autism
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Aug 1, 1989
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