About Asperger's Syndrome & Autism
Brief History of Autism & Asperger's Syndrome
Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger were both Austrian physicians who wrote their papers within a year of each other, Kanner in 1943 and Asperger in 1944. So why was there such a delay in the English speaking world accepting this Syndrome? Probably one of main reasons was that Leo Kanner moved to America and wrote his paper in English in 1943 and Hans Asperger was living in Austria and writing in German in 1944. Writing in German at the end of the Second World War would not have been that popular and only when the paper was translated into English did anyone start to discuss the findings.
Austrian doctor and paediatrician Hans Asperger first described the syndrome that now bears his name in a scholarly paper published in 1944.
As a result, to the English speaking world, the term 'Asperger's Syndrome' is a relatively new one. It was not until the late 1990s that the UK authorities actually finally accepted it existed.
Asperger was born on a farm in Hausbrunn just outside Vienna on February 18 1906 and he died on October 21 1980. He was the elder of two sons and may have had the syndrome himself, he had difficulty finding friends and was considered a lonely remote child. He was talented in language; in particular he was interested in the Austrian poet Franz Grillparzer, whose poetry he would frequently quote to his uninterested classmates. He also liked to quote himself and often referred to himself from a third-person perspective
Asperger studied medicine in Vienna and practised at the University Children's Hospital in Vienna. He became a doctor in 1932 and married in 1935 having five children. He continued to study children suffering from the problem and write about them until his death in 1980. Asperger died before his identification of this pattern of behaviour became widely recognised, this was beacuse most of his work was in German. The first person to use the term "Asperger's Syndrome" was the eminent British psychiatrist and researcher Lorna Wing. Her paper, Asperger's Syndrome: a clinical account was published in 1981 and challenged the previously accepted model of Autism presented by Leo Kanner. Asperger's paper was only translated in English in 1989 and appeared in Uta Frith's book. Unlike Kanner, Hans Asperger's findings were ignored and disregarded in the English- speaking world in his lifetime.
Near the end of the Second World War Asperger opened a school for children with autistic psychopathy, with Sister Victorine Zak. The school was bombed towards the end of the war, Sister Victorine was killed, the school destroyed and much of Asperger's early work was lost. So maybe we were not the first school to open for children with Asperger's Syndrome.
This is an extract taken from the book written by Stephen Bradshaw, which goes on sale on Monday 22nd October 2012, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
It is titled:
"Asperger's Syndrome- That Explains Everything. Strategies for Education, Life and Just About Everything Else"
Please follow the link to find out more about the book: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
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