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On February 8th, 2017 Eric Schopler would have turned 90 years old.

Eric Schopler, the German born American psychologist whose pioneering research into autism led to the foundation of the TEACCH Autism Program. He was born February 8, 1927 in Fürth, Germany. In 1938 his family fled Nazi Germany and emigrated to the U.S., where they settled in Rochester, New York. He died at the age of 79 on July 7, 2006.

A professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for more than 40 years, Eric Schopler was one of the first to establish that autism is a treatable neurological disorder. Previously, parents were blamed for causing what was then held to be a psychological problem.

Schopler co-founded (in 1971) and directed the UNC-Chapel Hill Division TEACCH – Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped CHildren. A division of the psychiatry department in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, TEACCH enlists parents as co-therapists in customized treatments that help autistic children gain critical life skills.

The TEACCH model was recognized by professionals in psychiatry through its inclusion in the treatment volume of “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” In 1991, Schopler joined an Autism Society of America meeting with then-President George Bush on the needs of people with autism.

Schopler wrote more than 200 books and articles on autism and related disorders. From 1974 through 1997, he edited the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.