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Hans Asperger

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Hans Asperger (February 18, 1906 – October 21, 1980) was a pediatrician treating and researching what would ultimately be recogised as the Autistic spectrum. Asperger syndrome was named after him.

Early life

Asperger was born in a countryside farm in Hausbrunn, outside Vienna. During 1920s, he participated in the youth movement. By 1931, he had completed a doctorate in medicine, and a year later he joined a children's clinic. He moved to work in a psychiatric hospital in Leipzig.

Career

In 1944, Hans Asperger published his first paper about what became known as Asperger syndrome. He had identifies a particular pattern of behavior and abilities in four boys in 1944. He termed this as "autistic psychopathy" - autistic which was taken generally to mean self and psychopathy which means personality disease. The pattern included "a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversation, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements." It was generally believed that Asperger's observations and findings were based on only four boys. However, Dr. Günter Krämer (of Zürich) who was aware of Asperger's work, has stated that the findings were based "on investigations of more than 400 children".

Controversy

In January 2016, writers John Donvan and Caren Zucker published "In a Different Key: The Story of Autism". In this book they accused Asperger of being a closet Nazi. However Steve Silberman, the author of Neurotribes attempted to investigate their sources and ran into a road block causing an article critical of Donvan's and Zucker's work.[1]

Further reading

  • Uta Frith (ed.): Autism and Asperger Syndrome (translated and annotated version of Asperger's 1944 paper), Cambridge University Press, 1991; ISBN 0-521-38608-X

References

  1. http://www.opb.org/news/article/npr-was-dr-asperger-a-nazi-the-question-still-haunts-autism/
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