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  1. The man whose name would be used to label our 'condition' may now have passed on - having died in October 1980 - but if you ever had the chance to meet him would you have taken that chance? Hans was an Austrian pediatrician - born in February 18, 1906 on a farm outside Vienna (Austria's capital city). He was a man who, ironically, may have had the very condition his name would be given to. 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. 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. Asperger published the first definition of Asperger Syndrome in 1944. In four boys, he identified a pattern of behavior and abilities that he called “autistic psychopathy,” meaning autism (self) and psychopathy (personality). The pattern included “a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversation, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements.” Asperger called children with AS “little professors,” because of their ability to talk about their favourite subject in great detail. Asperger showed a positive outlook towards the children - treating them sympathetically and been convinced that, despite their difficulties, many would use their special talents in adulthood. He followed one child, Fritz V., into adulthood. V. became a professor of astronomy and solved an error in Newton’s work he originally noticed as a child. During a time when Austria was occupied by the Nazis - who were intolerant to the disabled and sent such individuals to the concentration camps to be killed - Asperger's positive outlook and passionate defense of the value of autistic individuals was best shown in a paper he wrote, stating "We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfill their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers.". Asperger's paper ultimately saved hundreds, if not thousands, of Autistic children from been sent to the camps. His paper was published during wartime and in German, so it was not widely read elsewhere. 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 on October 21st. His work was later translated from German and published, with English researcher Lorna Wing (who passed away June 6th 2014) proposing the name 'Asperger Syndrome' for the condition Hans had been studying in her groundbreaking 1981 academic paper Asperger Syndrome: a Clinical Account. The term became popularized and later became a standard diagnosis in 1992 in the World Health Organization Manual - although it wasn't made a standard diagnosis in the American Psychiatric Association's manual (the DSM-IV) until 1994. Today, in the DSM-V, it has been labelled as been a less severe version of Autism but it still exists on its own in the World Health Organization Manual. Hans Asperger's birthday, February 18, was declared International Asperger's Day. --- If Hans Aspergers was alive and if the language barrier wasn't a problem, I would have definitely have loved to have met him, just to see what kind of man he was like. Now, where did I park my TARDIS?
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