Fascinating report in the Sunday Times yesterday about how the same genes that confer autism also confer the skills necessary for genius:
…a study of autism among 378 Cambridge University students....found the condition was up to seven times more common among mathematicians than students in other disciplines. It was also five times more common in the siblings of mathematicians.
And this from Patricia Howlin:
Patricia Howlin, professor of clinical child psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, studied 137 people with autism; 39 of them (29%) possessed an exceptional mental skill. The most common was outstanding memory.
She said: “It had been thought that only about 5%-10% of people with autism had such skills, but nobody had measured it properly, and it seems the number is far higher. If we could foster these skills, many more people with autism could live independently and even become high achievers.”
This, to me, is simply confirmation of two things that I believe in – firstly that autistic people have much more ability than people think and that respectful and appropriate education will help and secondly, the scientific method will always reveal the truth sooner or later. It cannot be hurried to be accurate. There is a saying amongst Web Developers when clients ask for the impossible – cheap, fast, good. Pick two. The same thing applies in science I think. You can have it cheap and fast and it won’t be good. Etc, etc.
This is yet more evidence that the continual doom and gloom about autism perpetuated from certain quarters simply isn’t reality. There are, in fact, key skills that our civillisation needs that it seems autistic people have in abundance (try and imagine a world without maths).
Respect, self-confidence, appropriate education. Pick three, please.