Asperger’s syndrome

Also known as Asperger’s disorder or autistic psychopathy, it is a sub-group on the autistic spectrum.  This syndrome and classic autism share the same features, but in Asperger’s language development is normal and cognitive development proceeds on time (in fact, some children with the syndrome display what is known as ‘hyperlexia’, the ability to read at an extremely early age).  Prevalence is limited, but it appears to be more common in males.  Onset is later than for autism, or at least recognised later.  A large number of children are diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 9.  First described by the paediatrician Hans Asperger (1906-1980) in 1944, using the term ‘autistic psychopathy in childhood’, he did so independently of Kanner‘s description of early infantile autism.  The difference between Asperger’s and Kanner’s patients was that those of the former were all identified as having speech.  Asperger called children with the syndrome “little professors”, because of their ability to talk about their favorite subject in great detail (and perhaps because of their stilted form of speech), and was convinced that many would use their special talents in adulthood.  He followed one child, Fritz V, into adulthood who became a professor of astronomy and solved an error in Newton’s work originally detected as a child.  Despite being an important clinician in the history of autism, some troubling information has come into open about him.  Based on archives discovered in Austria, it appears that he was complaint with Nazi purge of ‘unproductive’ disabled people in accordance the regimes’s extreme interpretation of eugenics.  In short, he sent profoundly disabled children to a hospital in Vienna where such inmates were subjected to a drug regime leading to their deaths (see Donvan. J., & Zucker, C. In a different key: The story of autism. London: Allen Lane, 2016;   Czech, H. Hans Asperger, National Socialism, and“race hygiene” in Nazi-era Vienna. Molecular AutismBrain,Cognition and Behavior, 2018,9:29 ). 

See Apraxia, Autism, Developmental coordination disorder (DCD), Developmental disorders, Embedded Figures Test (EFT), Eugenics, Mind-blindness theory, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Prevalence