Ashlee Terwilliger

Asperger syndrome, which is considered to be a higher functioning form of autism, was first acknowledged in 1926 by a Russian neurologist, but was never given an official title. Later in 1944, a Viennese psychologist by the name of Hans Asperger published the first information regarding the syndrome. After studying four boys with similar personality characteristics, he called their common behavior traits “autistic psychopathy”. According to Volkmar (2010), the similarities he noticed in these boys were a lack of empathy, an inability to form friendships with others, one-sided conversations, clumsy movements, and intense obsessions with a certain topic. Hans Asperger would refer to young children with Asperger’s as “little professors” because they would often be able to talk to great extent about a topic of their interest (Hutten, 2010). He believed that many higher functioning children would go on to use their special knowledge in their adult years.

Towards the end of World War II, Hans opened a school for children with “autistic psychopathy”. The school was soon after bombed, and the school was destroyed along with a great deal of Hans’s early work. Many believe that because of this, the understanding of the autism spectrum was delayed for many years (Hutten, 2010).
Sadly, Hans Asperger died in 1980, before many of his findings and work were credited in English speaking countries because everything he was in German. Finally in the late 1980s, his work was translated and started to gain credibility in English speaking areas. Since the 1990s Asperger Syndrome has become a condition in large portion of the world (Hutten, 2010).