Hans Asperger Biography

Hans Asperger, an Austrian paediatrician, made significant contributions to the understanding of Asperger’s syndrome, a mental disorder primarily affecting children. Through his research on psychically abnormal children, he provided a clear description of autistic psychopathy. Despite experiencing loneliness and difficulty making friends as a child, Asperger excelled in languages and went on to study medicine at the University of Vienna. He later became the director of the special education section at the university children’s clinic. Although his work on mental disorders was not widely recognized during his lifetime, his contributions were acknowledged after his death when his works were translated into English. However, Asperger’s syndrome remains a controversial diagnosis, with uncertainty surrounding its relationship to the autism spectrum. The World Health Organization’s ICD describes it as a disorder of uncertain nosological validity, and there is a consensus to phase out the diagnosis from the American Psychiatric Association’s manual.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 74
  • Family: children: Hans Asperger Jr., Maria Asperger-Felder
  • Pediatricians
  • Austrian Men
  • Died on: October 21, 1980
  • Place of death: Vienna
  • City: Vienna, Austria
  • More Facts
  • Education: University of Vienna

Childhood & Early Life

Hans Asperger was born on February 18, 1906, in Hausbrunn, Austria-Hungary. He had one younger brother. As a child, he struggled to make friends and often felt lonely. However, he developed a passion for languages and was particularly drawn to the poetry of Franz Grillparzer. He also excelled in the sciences. Asperger went on to study medicine at the University of Vienna under Franz Hamburger and graduated as a doctor of medicine in 1931.


In 1932, Asperger became the director of the play-pedagogic station of the special education section at the University Children’s Clinic in Vienna. He later became affiliated with the psychiatric clinic in Leipzig, where he focused on studying “psychically abnormal” children. In 1943, he submitted a research paper based on his investigations of over 400 children with autistic psychopathy. His definition of autistic psychopathy, published in 1944, closely resembled the definition given by Russian neurologist Grunya Sukhareva in 1926. Asperger identified common features of autism, including a lack of empathy, difficulty in communication, and repetitive behavior. He also observed specific patterns of behavior in autistic children, such as difficulty making friends, one-sided conversations, and a dislike for change. Asperger noted that these children often seemed to be in their own world and struggled to connect with their parents. Despite these challenges, many autistic individuals displayed exceptional knowledge in their preferred subjects and went on to achieve professional success. Asperger referred to these children as “little professors” due to their ability to discuss their preferred subjects in great detail.

In 1944, Asperger began working at the University of Vienna as the chair of pediatrics. He later became the director of the children’s clinic there. He also served as a professor at the University Children’s Clinic of the Universitats-Kinderklinik in Innsbruck and became a professor emeritus in 1977. Additionally, he worked as the head of the medical station of the SOS Children’s Villages in Hinterbruhi from 1964. Despite his significant contributions to the medical field, Asperger’s works were not widely recognized during his lifetime as they were written in German. It was not until after his death that his works were translated into English, and the term “Asperger’s Syndrome” was coined by British researcher Lorna Wing in 1981.

Major Works

Hans Asperger is best known for his work on “autistic psychopathy.” He studied and described the symptoms of this disorder, which later became known as Asperger syndrome (AS), an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Personal Life & Legacy

Asperger married in 1935 and had five children. He passed away on October 21, 1980, in Vienna at the age of 74. His birthday, February 18, has been declared International Asperger’s Day by various governments.

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