a developmental disorder characterized by severely impaired social skills, repetitive behaviors, and often, a narrow set of interests, but not involving delayed development of linguistic and cognitive abilities: now considered one of the autism spectrum disorders.
1981, in reference to Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger (1906-1980), who described it in 1944 (and called it autistic psychopathy; German autistischen psychopathen). A standard diagnosis since 1992; recognition of Asperger's work was delayed, perhaps, because his school and much of his early research was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944.
The example of autism shows particularly well how even abnormal personalities can be capable of development and adjustment. Possibilities of social integration which one would never have dremt of may arise in the course of development. [Hans Asperger, "Autistic psychopathy in Childhood," 1944]