The term autism was coined in 1912 by psychiatrist Paul Bleuler, who combined the Greek words ‘autos’, meaning ‘self’ and ‘ismos’, meaning ‘action, or state of being’. The resulting word, ‘autism’ therefore, means the state of being absorbed by one’s self. This differs from self-absorption, or willful selfishness.
Every baby concentrates on getting his or her needs satisfied. Normally, awareness of others progresses as the child develops.
I envision my autistic brother, Michael, who is low functioning, profoundly retarded and non verbal, as never progressing past this stage.
Being unable to make and feel a connection beyond one’s self is the definition of loneliness.
I must believe however, that Michael is not aware of being lonely.
He is very fortunate to have people taking care of him and his needs. Those autistic people who are not intellectually impaired must feel a lot of pain. Their state of loneliness must be confusing and difficult to endure.