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

Early life

Asperger was born in a countryside farm in Hausbrunn, which is outside of Vienna, Austria. During the 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. In 1935, he married and later had five children.[1]


In 1944, Hans Asperger published his first paper about what became known as "Asperger syndrome". He had identified 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 is now renamed as "antisocial personality disorder" as a psychiatric disorder and Autism is separate from it as a neurological condition) that meant "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".


In January 2016, writers, John Donvan and Caren Zucker, published In a Different Key: The Story of Autism. In this book, they accused Hans Asperger of being a closet Nazi (who persuaded other Nazis that "low-functioning" nonverbal Autistic people should be euthanized for being inferior to "high-functioning" verbal Autistic people and high-functioning Aspies were the only useful group to serve hard labor). 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.[2]

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


  1. Lyons V, Fitzgerald M (November 2007). "Did Hans Asperger (1906-1980) have Asperger syndrome?". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 37 (10): 2020–1. doi:10.1007/s10803-007-0382-4. PMID 17917805