The Null Device

Are hacking, fondness for computers or miscellaneous geek tendencies a sign of Asperger's Syndrome, a condition related to autism? Some experts believe so, others doubt it.

Math and engineering skills are common among patients diagnosed with autism or AS, both of which are genetic. Baron-Cohen's study of families with histories of autism or AS found twice as many immediate relatives (parents, siblings and grandparents) who are engineers as in the general population.

Assuming for a moment that "geek" tendencies and AS are the results of a genetic condition, this has potential evolutionary implications. Given that computer skills and similar cognitive abilities are a more adaptive trait in the modern environment than physical strength or fertility, such a condition may well be a mutation leading to more technologically adapted humans in the future. Whether Asperger's Syndrome (which some classify as severely socially debilitating) fits that bill, though, is an entirely different question.

There are 1 comments on "":

Posted by: stephanie wedgwood http:// Sat Oct 2 16:35:48 2004

I am a retired epileptically-inclined older female wth two grand-son (so far) who were first diagnosed with AHDH and schizophrenia...and then re-diagnosed with Asperger,s Syndrome. This at first frightened me, but I feel somewhat better knowing that it's simply a "geek" evolutionary mutation. My 18-yr old grandson prefers to stay in his room with his computers, and frankly so do I. Different from other people? Oh yeah! I've always felt different. Sociable if I had to be. Stay-at home if possible (retired) except for going out to a weekly poetry reading which I M.C. and a weekly workhop on shamanism which I co-facilitate with a local psychologist...for nerds, basically, with a tendency towards mysticism. All my daughters work with computers professionally (thank heavens; they earn a lot. Excllent mothers.) So this is a family profile, sort of. Any feedback?