Hans Asperger’s name is famous since one of the autism spectrum disorders is named after him, but what else does history teach about this great physician? Perhaps the quickest facts that sum up his life deal with his lifetime spent in Vienna where he worked as a pediatric physician at the University Childrens Hospital.
Considered a pervasive developmental disorder, Aspergers Syndrome as it relates to the umbrella of disorders under which it falls, autism was officially defined in 1944. Dr. Asperger worked with four test subjects who exhibited similar symptomatic psychopathic behavior.
Unwilling to Interact
He noted that they had an apparent unwillingness to interact with others and actually befriend peers, suffered from an insufficient ability to empathize with others, tended to be clumsier than other children their age, yet excelled academically in subjects that captured their interest.
He was known to refer to them repeatedly as his little professors. What sets apart Hans Asperger from contemporary physicians dealing with autism is his optimism. While his professional peers had only the direst outlooks for those individuals diagnosed in childhood with the condition, Dr. Asperger considered them uniquely able to put their special interest or talent to good use.
Opened First School for Autistics
As other physicians sought to recommend institutionalization to parents who were unable to deal with children so different from their peers, Dr. Asperger opened the very first school for autistic children.
Sadly, his early efforts were lost when the school and much of his written research burned during a bombing raid toward the end of Word War II.
Some suggest that the hospital was to help children who might have exhibited the same latent form of the disease which researchers now believe may have plagued him as a child. Although highly functioning, he might very well measure on the autism scale himself, based on some early records that describe him as a withdrawn child with an early penchant for language.
Spread of his Work
Success of his theories and recognition of his findings occurred posthumously in 1981 when his writings were translated and served another researcher to take on Leo Kanner and his rather negative slant on autism and the outlooks for individuals suffering from any form of the disorder.
A scant 10 years later his works exploded on the North American medical scene and since then he is one of the most revered autism disorder researchers recognized by families of sufferers and physicians alike, even naming a form of the disorder after him.
Now internationally recognized as denoting a highly functioning form of autism, Aspergers Syndrome is a diagnosis that sets a child on the path to getting the highly specialized help required so as to enable her or him to lead a full and happy life.
It is known that one of Dr. Aspergers patients went on to correct a mistake made in Newtons calculations of astronomy, while another won a Nobel Prize in literature. The differences he made in these lives when the individuals were still children are most likely contributory to their later adult success.