Hans Asperger

Born 1906-02-18
Died 1980-10-21

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Austrian paediatrician, born February 18, 1906, Vienna; died October 21, 1980, Vienna.

Biography of Hans Asperger

Hans Asperger was born on a farm outside Vienna, the elder of two sons. At an early age he showed special talents in language, and already in the first school years he was known for his frequent quotations of the Austrian national poet, Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872). He had difficulty finding friends and was considered to be "remote". In the youth movement of the 1920's, however, he met with some comrades with whom he maintained contact all through his life. He was conferred doctor of medicine in 1931 and assumed directorship of the play-pedagogic station at the university children's clinic in Vienna in 1932. He married in 1935 and had five children. From 1934 he was affiliated with the psychiatric clinic in Leipzig.

Hans Asperger had a special interest in "psychically abnormal" children. His paper, submitted to the journal in 1943, was based on investigations of more than 400 children with "autistic psychopathy" beyond his home district. However, since he travelled little, and all his publishing was in German, until recently Asperger's name was not as well known as that of Leo Kanner, who described infantile autism in 1943.

In the later part of World War II Asperger served as a soldier in Croatia. He was habilitated as a lecturer at the University of Vienna in 1944 and became director of the children's clinic in 1946. He became professor at the university children's clinic – the Universitäts-Kinderklinik – in Innsbruck in 1957, and from 1962 held the same tenure in Vienna. From 1964 he headed the medical station of the SOS-Kinderdörfer (SOS Children's villages) in Hinterbrühl. Asperger was became professor emeritus in 1977. He was working until the last, delivering a lecture six days prior to his death.

His list of publications counts 359 items, a majority of which concern two themes: "autistic psycopathy" and "death".

We thank Dr. Günter Krämer, Zürich, Switzerland, for information submitted.

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