Is Autism a Bad Thing?

Judging from this, autism mostly means a critical failure of communication inherent in the person’s mind. And from another video I saw, it appears there are some other mental symptoms that accompany it but it’s mostly the fact that autistic children perceive the world through a completely different matrix than other people do. And maybe it’s because of that literal, direct-only perception that some can be incredible savants.

What Michael Barton says in the article is that with his part of the spectrum comes, with some failure to grasp idioms and analogies, a heightened ability to focus, stick to things and better analytical skills. Which, to some definition, makes him a nerdy super-geek!

And my first thought is that sounds cool. Wouldn’t you wish you had the ability to just focus on one task for hours with out a break, to grasp and hold complicated design and mechanics in your head? I think that’s awesome.

My second thought is that maybe some of the great minds of history, all the way from Einstein down to Newton and Aristotle, were technically undiagnosed autistic people. That would explain a few things, like Tesla and others tendency to isolate themselves from society to focus on their projects, and then producing leaps and bounds of technological breakthrough.

My third thought is that, although it might be cool to have unlimited technical potential, it seems you have to sacrifice some part of the human connection and some artistic understanding. I’m a high tech person, basically a cash-strapped early adopter. But I’m also a story teller. Both of those are integral parts of me and I basically won’t be me without one of them. Because of them I want to go into game design and other technological narratives. And those kind of occupations require one to be both a techie and an artist. Which makes me a bit afraid of my next thought.

Which is, number four, that with the growing number of people being diagnosed with some kind of an autistic condition, could we actually be breaking apart into two different mental variants of humans? One being highly technical and one being more artistically oriented? This could be an interesting proposition, maybe an idea for a story, but it is also a frightening one. What will happen to the game designers, to the high tech storytellers?

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