Asperger's syndrome is a disorder on the autism spectrum, which contains a number of conditions marked by social impairment, communication barriers, and repetitive and restrictive behavior patterns, notes the National Institutes of Health. Autistic disorder and childhood disintegrative disorder are also on this spectrum.
Asperger's syndrome takes its name from Hans Asperger, a pediatrician from Austria who observed a group of children within his practice who experienced difficulty with social integration. They appeared to have normal intelligence levels but lacked the skills to communicate nonverbally, show empathy with those in their peer group and showed physical awkwardness. When it came to speech, they were too formal or disjointed, and they focused on one topic in the vast majority of their conversations. Children with this condition often continue to have these difficulties into adulthood, and some develop additional psychiatric disorders during the teen years and adulthood, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Asperger termed these patients as suffering from "autistic psychopathy," but his notes did not attract wide notice until 1981 when British doctor Lorna Wing published case studies of kids with similar patterns, which she termed "Asperger's syndrome." In 1992, Asperger's syndrome became a separate diagnosis, although as of 2015, researchers have determined that the symptoms of Asperger's are not sufficiently distinguishable from those of high-functioning autism.