Prepare to enter the wild and wooly world of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by intellignce, quirks, social difficulties and downright strange and oddish behaviours.

People with Aspergers generally are high functioning in everyday life but have great difficulty connecting with others due to the inability to read faces, body language and subtle verbal clues. They also tend to take words literally and have a hard time multi-tasking.

Oversensitivity to touch (clothing has to be soft and often the tags removed), light (do not leave home without the sunglasses), sound (loud noises and noisey places are avoided), taste (many Aspies have quite a limited diet and are frequently very picky eaters) and smells makes the everyday existence more of a challenge.

Fasten your seatbelts and come on in...
To find out more about what Aspergers is..please check out my earliest blog entries

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Autism and Gender, Tomboys and Engineers

I read this fascinating article by Simon Baron-Cohen and I want to share paraphrased excerpts that amuse and enlighten me.
The genetic component...children and grandchildren of engineers are more likely to be autistic.
My grandfather And my great-grandfather were both engineers.
Systemizing-the passion to analyze and construct systems, whether mechanical (automobiles, computers, rocket or weapon technology), natural (health, running, weight training, dietary), political or social (utopian societies, communal communities, public welfare systems)
All systems follow rules. When you can systemize, you identify the rules that govern the system so you can predict how that system works. The fundamental drive to systemize may explain why autistics love repetition, patterns, predictability and resist unexpected changes.
I remember in sixth grade designing a utopian world where everyone was equal, wore the same clothes, all jobs paid the same, all homes identical, etc. I designed kennels whereby all puppies were equally fed and attended to. My Aspie son works on a more global scale designing fleets, systems of new, improved technological armies and navies, green technologies, improved political systems, among other things.

A study was conducted in which children with Aspergers outperformed older Neuro-typical kids on a test info understanding mechanics. Aspies also scored high in attention to detail. Attention to detail is necessary for systemizing. When trying to understand a system, it is essential to be able to spot the small details or if you mistake one tiny variable (imagine building a bridge with one miscalculation near the base). Both parents also tested higher for attention to detail.
Not only engineers, but other technological people's may harbor the autism gene. In one study, math students were nine times more likely than humanities students to be autistic.

If genes for technological aptitude are linked to autism, then autism should be higher in technological communities, like Silicon Valley, which some claim has autism rates 10 times higher than the general population.
On a slightly different note, autism is more common in boys. Classic autism 4 boys to every girl. Aspergers 9 boys to every girl. Strong systemizing is much more common in men. Likewise, in childhood, boys have a stronger interest in mechanical systems (toy cars) and construction systems (Legos). As adults, en are over represented in science, technology, engineering and math). Maybe high levels of testosterone in the fetus contribute to strong systemizing.
A study of over 200 amniocentesis, found that the more testosterone surrounding a fetus, the stronger the child's later interests in systems, better interest in details and higher autism traits.
If true, women with autism should be especially masculinized in certain ways. Girls with autism show tomboyism in toy choice preferences. I, myself, have always had a plethora of masculine traits and consider myself androgynous.
"People with autism, whose minds differ from what we consider typical, frequently display both disability and exceptional aptitude. Genes that contribute to autism may overlap with genes for the uniquely human ability to understand how the world works in extraordinary detail-see beauty in patterns inherent in nature, technology, music and math." Thanks Simon:)

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