Early in the 1940s, two men, worlds apart and unaware of each other’s work, used the term “autism” to describe children that had remarkably similar characteristics, namely core impairments in socialization, communication, and imagination. In the United States in 1943, Leo Kanner published an account of “early infantile autism,” describing children with impaired social interaction, impaired communication, and stereotyped behaviors and interests.Kanner’s children seemed to relate better to objects than people. In Austria in 1944, Hans Asperger used the term “autistic psychopathy” to describe children with impaired social interaction, behavioral oddities, and poor coordination. Asperger’s children, who displayed no delay in language development, could never seem to understand the rules of social behavior. While Kanner’s work quickly became prominent in the English-speaking countries, laying the foundation for autism research and therapy literature for the next 40 years, Asperger’s work remained relatively unknown in the English-speaking world until the 1980s.

Asperger’s disorder is more prevalent than high-functioning autism. Today, the prevalence rate for Asperger’s disorder is 1 in 280 children,20 while that for high-functioning autism is 1 in 2000 children. Children are typically diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder at age eleven and with autism at age five. The first official diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s disorder were published in the early 1990s. Since that time, the referral rates for diagnostic assessment of these children continue to increase, and there has been an extraordinary increase in the number of children diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder over the last decade.Taken together, these figures alert us that the first officially recognized wave of adults with Asperger’s disorder and highfunctioning autism is presently entering society