Asperger’s own publications did not inspire research, replication, or scientific interest prior to 1980. Instead, he laid the fertile groundwork for the diagnostic confusion that has grown since 1980.
In his 1944 paper, as Uta Frith translated from the German in 1991, Asperger wrote, "We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfill their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers." Based on Frith's translation, however, Asperger initially stated: "Unfortunately, in the majority of cases the positive aspects of autism do not outweigh the negative ones." Psychologist Eric Schopler wrote in 1998:
Despite this brief resurgence of interest in his work in the 1990s, AS remains a controversial and contentious diagnosis due to its unclear relationship to the autism spectrum. The World Health Organization’s ICD-10 Version 2015 describes AS as “a disorder of uncertain nosological validity”, and there was a majority consensus to phase the diagnosis out of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnosis manual.
Since 2009, Asperger’s birthday, 18 February, has been declared International Asperger’s Day by various governments.
Asperger died before his identification of this pattern of behaviour became widely recognised. This was in part due to his work being exclusively in German and as such it was little-translated; medical academics, then as now, also disregarded Asperger’s work based on its merits or lack thereof. English researcher Lorna Wing proposed the condition Asperger’s syndrome in a 1981 paper, Asperger’s syndrome: a clinical account, that challenged the previously accepted model of autism presented by Leo Kanner in 1943. It was not until 1991 that an authoritative translation of Asperger’s work was made by Uta Frith; before this AS had still been “virtually unknown”. Frith said that fundamental questions regarding the diagnosis had not been answered, and the necessary scientific data to address this did not exist. Unlike Kanner, who overshadowed Asperger, the latter’s findings were ignored and disregarded in the English-speaking world in his lifetime.