Our story so far

To celebrate our 50th birthday, we've put together a timeline of key events in the history of The National Autistic Society.

From our first meeting of parents and Helen Allison's appearance on the BBC's Women's Hour, to the opening of our first school and the passing of the Autism Act, we're excited to have been making a difference for 50 years.;xNLx;;xNLx;Find out more at ;xSTx;a href="http://www.autism.org.uk/50";xETx;www.autism.org.uk/50;xSTx;/a;xETx;

1943-01-01 00:00:00

1943. Autism first described as a condition

Leo Kanner describes autism as a distinct condition in his paper 'Autistic disturbances of affective contact'.

1944-05-15 00:00:19

1944. Asperger syndrome recognised

Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger describes a condition later known as 'Asperger syndrome'.

1961-05-15 00:00:19

1961. Women's Hour talk on autism

Helen Allison appears on the BBC’s Women’s Hour to talk about how autism affects her son, Joe.

1962-01-15 00:00:19

1962. First meeting of founding parents

A group of parents come together to start what will later be called The National Autistic Society.

1962-10-10 07:58:26

1962. Charity decides on aims

Following its first meeting, the group identify three key goals for the fledgling charity.

1962-11-10 07:58:26

1962. Newspaper article on autism

A feature on autism called 'Children in chains' appears in a London newspaper, The Evening News.

1962-12-06 00:00:19

1962. First Parliamentary question on autism

The first Parliamentary question about autism was asked by Mr William Compton Carr to Education Minister Sir Edward Boyle.

1963-05-15 00:00:19

1963. First NAS logo developed

The first NAS logo was designed by a parent member of the Executive Committee, Gerald Gasson, and used the symbol of a puzzle piece.

1964-12-15 00:00:19

1964. First professional publicity campaign

The first publicity campaign organised by a team of professional experts for the society launched at the end of 1964.

1965-09-15 00:00:19

1965. Sybil Elgar School opens

We open our first school called The Society School for Autistic Children, later renamed Sybil Elgar School.

1967-03-15 00:00:19

1967. First issue of Communication magazine

The first issue of our members' magazine, 'Communication', is published.

1968-09-15 00:00:19

1968. Helen Allison School opens

Due to the popularity of our first school, Sybil Elgar suggests the NAS open a second school.

1972-10-27 00:00:19

1972. First autism conference

The first ever three-day conference took place in Pontins Wick Ferry Holiday in Christchurch, Dorset.

1974-09-15 00:00:19

1974. Somerset Court opens

The residential community is opened to provide continued support and care for students leaving Sybil Elgar School.

1974-11-10 07:58:26

1974. Radlett Lodge School opens

The school is in Radlett in rural Hertfordshire.

1976-09-15 00:00:19

1976. Robert Ogden School opens

The school, originally called Storm House, is in Rotherham in South Yorkshire.

1977-09-15 00:00:19

1977. Genetic link to autism established

The first systematic study of twins with autism is published by Dr Susan Folstein and Professor Michael Rutter.

1979-09-15 00:00:19

1979. Triad of impairments

Lorna Wing and Judith Gould's groundbreaking study presented the idea of an autism spectrum.

1980-09-15 00:00:19

1980. DSM 3 recognises autism spectrum

The third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recognises autism spectrum disorder.

1982-09-15 00:00:19

1982. Renamed The National Autistic Society

In 1982 the charity changed its name from The Society for Autistic Children to The National Autistic Society.

1985-05-15 00:00:19

1985. Broomhayes School opens

The school, originally in Westward Ho! and now Bideford in Devon, is opened by our Royal Patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

1988-11-10 07:58:26

1988. The film Rain Man is released in the US

The Academy Award winning drama starring Dustin Hoffman is said to have heavily influenced public perceptions of autism.

1989-02-15 00:00:19

1989. Chris Gillberg's Asperger criteria published

Christopher Gillberg, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, publishes the first diagnostic criteria for Asperger syndrome.

1992-03-15 00:00:19

1992. Autism Accreditation launched

The National Autistic Society and a network of affiliated local societies launch a quality assurance programme.

1994-03-15 00:00:19

1994. DSM 4 recognises Asperger syndrome

The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recognises Asperger syndrome as a separate disorder from autism.

1994-09-15 00:00:19

1994. NAS Cymru opens

The NAS Wales office opens in Cardiff.

1995-02-15 00:00:19

1995. NAS EarlyBird starts

The EarlyBird programme is for parents whose child received a diagnosis of autism and is of pre-school age.

1995-03-15 00:00:19

1995. NAS Scotland opens

The NAS Scotland office opens in Glasgow.

1995-05-15 00:00:19

1995. Prospects opens

Prospects is our employment and training service for people with autism who wish to work.

1997-03-02 00:00:19

1997. Autism Helpline opens

The helpline started in order to answer the increasing number of calls and enquiries the organisation was receiving.

1997-03-15 00:00:19

1997. Jane Asher becomes NAS President

Jane was made President of the NAS in recognition of all her hard work for people with autism.

1998-09-15 00:00:19

1998. Daldorch House School opens

The school is in Ayrshire, Scotland.

1998-10-27 00:00:19

1998. Lancet publishes Wakefield research

The Lancet publishes research claiming to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and bowel disease. The research is later discredited.

1999-02-15 00:00:19

1999. Autism Research Centre founded

The Autism Research Centre (ARC) brings together scientists working on autism at the University of Cambridge.

2000-02-15 00:00:19

2000. APPGA launched

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) is a formal cross-party backbench group of MPs and Peers interested in autism.

2002-08-27 00:00:19

2002. Autism and education good practice published

The UK Department for Education publishes 'Autistic spectrum disorders: good practice guidance'.

2003-08-15 00:00:19

2003. Countess of Wessex becomes NAS Royal Patron

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex took over this role from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

2003-10-27 00:00:19

2003. Mark Haddon publishes acclaimed novel

'The curious incident of the dog in the night-time' by Mark Haddon tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old with Asperger syndrome.

2005-01-03 00:00:19

2005. NAS Northern Ireland opens

The NAS Northern Ireland office opens in Belfast.

2005-06-18 00:00:19

2005. First Autistic Pride Day

Autistic Pride Day is an Aspies for Freedom initiative to celebrate people on the autism spectrum.

2008-04-02 00:00:19

2008. World Autism Awareness Day announced

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declares 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day.

2008-08-27 00:00:19

2008. Gary McKinnon diagnosed with autism

Between 2001 and 2002, Gary McKinnon hacked into 97 US military computers at the Pentagon and NASA to search for proof of UFOs.

2009-04-01 00:00:00

2009. Wales autism strategy published

The Welsh Assembly Government publishes its 'Autism spectrum disorder strategic action plan' in April, making it the UK's first autism strategy.

2009-05-15 00:00:19

2009. Autism Act passed

The Autism Act 2009 becomes the first ever disability-specific law in England, after campaigning by the NAS.

2009-06-01 00:00:00

2009. Northern Ireland autism strategy published

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety launch the 'Autism spectrum disorder strategic action plan' in June 2009.

2009-10-01 00:00:19

2009. NAS wins campaigns team of the year award

The NAS is awarded the Charity Times 'Campaigns Team of the Year' for "innovation and results that achieve, or exceed, the aims of a campaign".

2009-10-01 00:00:19

2009. NAS wins public affairs award

The NAS wins the PRWeek 'Public Affairs' award for the "most effective use of PR to change or enlist political or public opinion".

2010-03-02 00:00:19

2010. England adult autism strategy published

The Government publishes its plan to make sure that adults with autism get the help that they need, committed to in the Autism Act 2009.

2011-06-15 00:00:19

2011. BBC Panorama exposé broadcast

In June, BBC programme Panorama broadcast shocking footage of residents in a care home for people with autism being grossly mistreated.

2011-10-01 00:00:19

2011. Lorna Wing honoured with achievement award

Lorna wins the Charity Times 'Outstanding Individual Achievement' award for her "dedication, professionalism and integrity" throughout her career.

Our story so far

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