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On Hans Asperger, the Nazis, and Autism: A Conversation Across Neurologies

by Maxfield Sparrow and Steve Silberman How complicit was Hans Asperger with the murderous eugenic policies of the Third Reich in his role as the head of the Children’s Clinic at University of Vienna in the 1930s and 1940s? This painful question, which has vexed autism history for decades, has been reopened by the simultaneous publication of Edith Sheffer’s book “Asperger’s Children” and Herwig Czech’s paper in The Journal of Molecular Autism, “Hans Asperger, National Socialism, and ‘race hygiene’ in Nazi-era Vienna.” By unearthing new information from the municipal archives in Vienna that was mistakenly believed to be lost, Sheffer and Czech make the case that Asperger was more culpable than historians previously believed. They portray him as a calculating, ambitious young physician who never joined the Nazi party but was “prematurely promoted” over the heads of his Jewish colleagues as they were purged from the university in the increasingly…

In A Different Key: One (Deeply Flawed) Story of Autism

M. Kelter TheInvisibleStrings.com 
 In A Different Key, by John Donvan and Caren Zucker, is described by its publisher as “the definitive history of autism.” Its story begins in the 1930s, with a portrait of “autism’s first child” Donald Triplett, then moves to “father of child psychiatry” Leo Kanner, who was the one to diagnose Triplett with autism. In the following decades, readers encounter a variety of researchers and parents as they grapple with questions about the origin and nature of autism. This history is a complex and nuanced one, yet Donvan and Zucker tell a fairly straightforward David and Goliath narrative. The role of the villain, Goliath, is played not by a person, but by autism itself. Anyone fighting autism becomes the book’s sympathetic, underdog David. Which means that, unfortunately, In A Different Key becomes a chronological collection of anecdotes about these “heroic” battles. [image: Book cover: Beige background…