Research Advances > Statistics & Trends > Research Over Time

Research Over the Decades


Scientists and clinicians have published over 13,000 scientific papers about autism over the last seven decades. During these past seventy years, the medical community has identified autism as a separate condition from childhood schizophrenia and has discredited the idea that autism is a result of neglectful parenting. Today, autism is known to be a developmental disorder caused by a cocktail of genetic and environmental factors, and clinicians have developed strict criteria for an autism diagnosis.

Click the graph below to learn more about the perception of autism since the 1940s:   

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


We used the database to compile the data necessary for the figures. A search was conducted for scholarly articles containing the keywords “autism” or “autistic” in the title or abstract. To obtain data specific for the decade in question, we used a set of limits where the start date of 01/01/XXX0 and the end date of 12/31/XXX9 generated a complete data set.

To produce the detailed report for each decade, we used Google Scholar ( A similar set of limits as used on was used in this search, producing the most cited papers of the specific time frame. These papers were then further analyzed and the most pertinent information extracted.

Ross Senter, Karthik Kumar, and Sharmila Banerjee-Basu, Ph.D.