Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
In the Celebration of International Women’s Day, it is becoming a tradition to right the wrongs of the past and amplify the work of women who were erased from the popular discourse.
Today, we acknowledge the many women Sociologists, Psychologists and Physicians who have contributed to the neurodiversity narrative and advanced our mission without recognition and fame.
Today, on #InternationalWomensDay2022, remember that Autism research started only with boys.
To help create the image of Autism that takes into account our girls and women, share this thread with someone else. Help to #BreakTheBias @AbbotsLeaSchool @Mica__Jayne @ShelDunne pic.twitter.com/pFEd3Y1FWq
— Head of Autism Research and Development (@ALS_AutismRandD) March 8, 2022
A story of Dr Grunya Sukhareva – the real pioneer of Autism
Introducing Dr Sukhareva. Perhaps you have not heard of her? Surprisingly I had not done so till recently. Two full decades before Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner published work relating to Autism there was a Russian Jewish female doctor in Moscow who was ahead of the field.
Only in the past 4 years has this come to light the Scientific American reporting her findings from her 1925 published article:
“It was 1924 when the 12-year-old boy was brought to the Moscow clinic for an evaluation. By all accounts, he was different from his peers. Other people did not interest him much, and he preferred the company of adults to that of children his own age. He never played with toys: He had taught himself to read by age 5 and spent his days reading everything he could instead. Thin and slouching, the boy moved slowly and awkwardly. He also suffered from anxiety and frequent stomach-aches.”
Where Sukhareva worked children sometimes lived in a residential setting for 2-3 years having detailed interventions. This allowed her to observe their ‘behaviours’ first- hand and over a prolonged period. Over the course of the following year, Sukhareva identified five more boys with what she described as “autistic tendencies.” All five also showed a preference for their own inner world, yet each had their own peculiarities or talents.
In 1925, she published a study describing in detail the autistic features the six boys shared and these directly mapped to the later DSM criteria, yet Dr Sukhareva is virtually missing from the history of Autism.
Very little Russian research from that time was translated into other languages besides German. And although her 1925 paper on autism traits appeared in German the following year, the translation butchered her name, misspelling it as “Ssucharewa.” The paper was only translated into English nearly 70 years later. Interestingly it was translated into German it was likely that Asperger would have read it but he never referenced her work. It was translated into English in 1996.