The Null Device

Silicon Valley, an area with a high concentration of engineers, hackers and technical specialists, is seeing a dramatic increase in diagnoses of autism and Asperger's Syndrome. This suggests that the colloquial links between the conditions and technical pursuits may in fact be provable; and that in sufficient concentrations, those who may otherwise have been prevented from breeding by not getting mainstream society will find similar mates -- and their children may be more severely affected.

Says Bryna Siegel, author of The World of the Autistic Child and director of the PDD clinic at UCSF, "In another historical time, these men would have become monks, developing new ink for early printing presses. Suddenly they're making $150,000 a year with stock options. They're reproducing at a much higher rate."
"Autism gets to fundamental issues of how we view talents and disabilities," he says. "The flip side of dyslexia is enhanced abilities in math and architecture. There may be an aspect of this going on with autism and assortative mating in places like Silicon Valley. In the parents, who carry a few of the genes, they're a good thing. In the kids, who carry too many, it's very bad."
For all we know, the first tools on earth might have been developed by a loner sitting at the back of the cave, chipping at thousands of rocks to find the one that made the sharpest spear, while the neurotypicals chattered away in the firelight. Perhaps certain arcane systems of logic, mathematics, music, and stories - particularly remote and fantastic ones - have been passed down from phenotype to phenotype, in parallel with the DNA that helped shape minds which would know exactly what to do with these strange and elegant creations.

(via Slashdot)

There are 4 comments on "":

Posted by: Graham Mon Dec 17 12:18:07 2001

Whoo-hoo! Trendy condition du jour! You've probably seen these on S-T, but it makes sense to put them here as well.

Posted by: acb Mon Dec 17 13:44:48 2001

I got 18 on the test. Which means that I probably don't suffer from Asperger's Syndrome, or something.

Though at times I've wondered about that. I suspect I'd have gotten a higher score a few years earlier, when I spent most of my time on USENET.

It'd be interesting to know what the typical computer geek/hacker/trainspotter score is, and what the typical Joe Sixpack/jock/social butterfly would get in comparison.

Posted by: Graham Tue Dec 18 07:59:36 2001

That's a worry - i got 27. Though you're getting out more, which helps. One thing I found when I was associating with a lot of reasonably friendly people was that I wasn't nearly as much of a misanthrope as I thought I was.

Posted by: acb Tue Dec 18 10:38:14 2001


I wonder which age group/developmental stage the test/scoring guide are calibrated for. I.e., one could imagine children and adolescents getting higher scores than adults who have some life experience in dealing with things.