Lorna Wing

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Lorna Wing
Lorna Wing died 2014.jpg
Lorna Wing
Lorna Gladys Tolchard

(1928-10-07)7 October 1928
Gillingham, Kent, England, UK
Died6 June 2014(2014-06-06) (aged 85)
Kent, England, UK
Alma mater
Known for
  • childhood developmental disorders
  • autism spectrum diagnosis
  • Asperger Syndrome
Spouse(s)Professor John Wing, FRCPsych
Scientific career
InstitutionsMedical Research Council Social Psychiatry Unit
Institute of Psychiatry
King's College London

Lorna Gladys Wing, OBE FRCPsych (7 October 1928 – 6 June 2014) was an English psychiatrist. She was a pioneer in the field of childhood developmental disorders, who advanced understanding of autism worldwide, introduced the term Asperger syndrome in 1976[1] and was involved in founding the National Autistic Society (NAS) in the UK.

Early life[edit]

She was born Lorna Gladys Tolchard to Bernard and Gladys Tolchard in Gillingham, Kent and, following education at Chatham Grammar School for Girls, commenced medical training at University College Hospital in 1949. After qualifying as a psychiatrist, her first post was at the Institute of Psychiatry, Maudsley Hospital, London (now part of King's College London).[2]


Although Wing trained as a medical doctor, specialising in psychiatry, her focus narrowed to childhood developmental disorders in 1959. At that time autism was thought to affect around 5 in 10,000 children, but its prevalence in the 2010s was considered to be around 1 in 100 following the awareness raised by Wing and her followers.[3] Her research, particularly with her collaborator Judith Gould, now underpins thinking in the field of autism. They initiated the Camberwell Case Register to record all patients using psychiatric services in this area of London. The data accumulated by this innovative approach gave Wing the basis for her influential insight that autism formed a spectrum, rather than clearly differentiated disorders. They also set up the Centre for Social and Communication Disorders, the first integrated diagnostic and advice service for these conditions in the UK.[4]

Wing was the author of many books and academic papers, including Asperger Syndrome: a Clinical Account, a February 1981 academic paper that popularised the research of Hans Asperger.[5][6] Although groundbreaking and influential, Wing herself cautioned in her 1981 paper that "It must be pointed out that the people described by the present author all had problems of adjustment or superimposed psychiatric illnesses severe enough to necessitate referral to a psychiatric clinic ... (and) the series described here is probably biased towards those with more severe handicaps."

Along with some parents of autistic children, she founded the organisation now known as the National Autistic Society in the UK in 1962.[3] She was a consultant to NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism until she died.[7] She was also President of Autism Sussex.[8]

In the 1995 New Year Honours list Wing was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for 'services to the National Autistic Society'.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Wing met her future husband John Wing (22 October 1923 – 18 April 2010) while they were dissecting the same body as medical students.[10] Marrying in 1950, both specialised as psychiatrists, with John becoming a professor of psychiatry.[11] It was following their realisation that their daughter Susie (1956–2005) was autistic that Lorna Wing became involved in researching developmental disorders, particularly autistic spectrum disorders.[3]

Lorna Wing died on 6 June 2014 in Kent, aged 85.[2][12]



  • Wing, L. & Gould, J. (1979), "Severe Impairments of Social Interaction and Associated Abnormalities in Children: Epidemiology and Classification", Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9, pp. 11–29.
  • Wing, L. (1980). "Childhood Autism and Social Class: a Question of Selection?", British Journal of Psychiatry, 137, pp. 410–17.
  • Wing, L. (1981). "Asperger's syndrome: a clinical account". Psychol Med. 11 (1): 115–29. doi:10.1017/S0033291700053332. PMID 7208735. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
  • Burgoine, E. & Wing, L. (1983), "Identical triplets with Asperger's Syndrome", British Journal of Psychiatry, 143, pp. 261–65.
  • Wing, L. & Attwood, A. (1987), "Syndromes of Autism and Atypical Development", in Cohen, D. & Donnellan, A. (eds.), Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Disorders, New York, John Wiley & Sons.
  • Wing, L. (1991), "The Relationship Between Asperger's Syndrome and Kanner's Autism", in Frith, U. (ed.), Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Wing, L. (1992), "Manifestations of Social Problems in High Functioning Autistic People", in Schopler, E. & Mesibov, G. (eds.), High Functioning Individuals with Autism, New York, Plenum Press.
  • Wing, L. & Potter, D. (2002). "The epidemiology of autistic spectrum disorders: is the prevalence rising?". Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 8 (3): 151–61. doi:10.1002/mrdd.10029. PMID 12216059.


  • 1964, Autistic Children
  • 1966, Physiological Measures, Sedative Drugs and Morbid Anxiety, with M.H. Lader
  • 1969, Children Apart: Autistic Children and Their Families
  • 1969, Teaching Autitistic Autistic Children: Guidelines for Teachers
  • 1971, Autistic Children: a Guide for Parents
  • 1975, Early Childhood Autism: Clinical, Educational and Social Aspects (editor)
  • 1975, What is Operant conditioning?
  • 1988, Aspects of Autism: Biological Research (editor)
  • 1989, Hospital Closure and the Resettlement of Residents: Case of Darenth Park Mental Handicap Hospital
  • 1995, Autistic Spectrum Disorders: an Aid to Diagnosis
  • 1996, The Autistic Spectrum: a Guide for Parents and Professionals
  • 2002, Smiling at Shadows: a Mother's Journey Raising an Autistic Child (with Junee Waites, Helen Swinbourne).


  1. ^ Carolyn Cole (24 January 2018). "What is Asperger's Syndrome". Guiding Pathways header logo. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Lorna Wing – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Rhodes, Giulia (24 May 2011). "Autism: a mother's labour of love". The Guardian.
  4. ^ "Dr Judith Gould BSc, MPhil, PhD, AFBPsS, CPsychol". autism.org.uk. National Autism Society. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  5. ^ Mnookin, Seth (18 June 2018). "Asperger's Children". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  6. ^ Wing, Lorna (February 1981). "Asperger's syndrome: a clinical account". Psychological Medicine. Cambridge University Press. 11 (1): 115–129. doi:10.1017/S0033291700053332. PMID 7208735. Retrieved 22 July 2019 – via cambridge.org.
  7. ^ "Dr Lorna Wing MD FRCPsych". autism.org.uk. National Autistic Society. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  8. ^ Brown, Richard. "President Dr Lorna Wing – Tribute". autismsussex.org.uk. Autism Sussex. Archived from the original on 15 September 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  9. ^ "No. 53893". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1994. p. 15.
  10. ^ Brugha, Traolach; Lorna Wing; John Cooper; Norman Sartorius (2011). "Contribution and legacy of John Wing, 1923–2010". British Journal of Psychiatry. 198 (3): 176–178. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.084889. PMID 21357875. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  11. ^ Who Was Who 2006-2010 (Entry on Prof John Kenneth Wing). Bloomsbury Publishing, London. 2011. ISBN 978-1408146583.
  12. ^ Vitello, Paul (19 June 2014). "Dr. Lorna Wing, Who Broadened Views of Autism, Dies at 85". The New York Times.

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