IT Employment

The connection between IT and Asperger's Syndrome

It's sometimes called the "Geek Syndrome." Medically, Asperger's is one of several autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) characterized by difficulties in social interaction and by restricted, stereotyped interests and activities, and obsessive or repetitive routines. Do you think it's a condition that is prevalent in IT?

It's sometimes called the "Geek Syndrome." Medically, Asperger's is one of several autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) characterized by difficulties in social interaction and by restricted, stereotyped interests and activities, and obsessive or repetitive routines.

Because those with Asperger's tend to gravitate toward things rather than people, there seems to be a greater number of IT people with Asperger's than in the general population.

A Computerworld article this week quotes Temple Grandin, Asperger's author (Thinking in Pictures, Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships) and speaker, as saying:

"Is there a connection between Asperger's and IT? We wouldn't even have any computers if we didn't have Asperger's. All these labels - 'geek' and 'nerd' and 'mild Asperger's' -- are all getting at the same thing. ... The Asperger's brain is interested in things rather than people, and people who are interested in things have given us the computer you're working on right now."

Many experts have suggested that Microsoft founder Bill Gates suffers from the disorder; others assert that if that were the case, he would never have been able to cope with the social interactions necessary to run a business.

Although Asperger's Syndrome is a lifelong condition, it tends to stabilize over time. Many adults are able to compensate for the symptoms and become quite successful, particularly in scientific careers. Here are some of the childhood behaviors (from WebMD) that characterize Asperger's Syndrome:

  • Doesn't pick up on social cues and lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others' body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking
  • Dislikes any changes in routine
  • Appears to lack empathy
  • Is unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others' speech
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Is preoccupied with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about

In fact, I've seen several questions raised in our discussion area from TechRepublic members who suspect a prevalence of the syndrome among IT people. Do you think there is a prevalence, or is this just another medical term for a different type of personality?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

229 comments
speciallyforu57
speciallyforu57

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The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

* Doesn?t pick up on social cues and lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others? body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking - Not good at work in general. * Dislikes any changes in routine - Not good in a DR within IT * Appears to lack empathy - Not good for a support position in IT * Is unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others? speech - Not good for meetings / support in IT * Avoids eye contact - Not good for meetings in IT * Is preoccupied with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about - not good at learning the items needed to do a complete job in IT So what where is the connection to IT, just bacause some criminal hacker happened to have the disease? May as well say there is a connection between AN other disease and offer some random blurb... Asperger's Syndrome - mathematics perhaps as the rules governing numbers do not change.

JimInPA
JimInPA

and yes I know I should grow up and I should be ashamed of myself but Ass-Burgers... :^0 hee hee hee They should have given it a different name. ~snicker~ ~snicker~ etu

doctorsichrome
doctorsichrome

Another madeup disease. Put it in with peanut allergies, ADHD, autism and Lyme Disease- a few people might experience some symptoms, all the others have imaginary or exaggerated symptoms aggravated by an overactive imagination. Must we always classify people just to validate their differences?

rob.johns
rob.johns

Would someone please write a book about a guy with A.S. who builds a company based on tech, takes the meds to be "normal", meets a woman, looses the company (and everything he used to care about), gets dumped, stops taking the meds and begins tinkering in his garage again, rebuilds, and slips into taking the meds again because he is absolutely heartbroken? I don't believe that we should medicate the diversity out of society. We're all broken, but don't all require fixing.

eyecu298
eyecu298

I think it explains alot. My son would much rather type his papers than put pen to paper. He would much rather be in a technical world than any other.

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collectivist: "Doesn't pick up on social cues ..." realist: Doesn't subordinate own will to the collective. collectivist: "...and lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others??? body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking" realist: ...and has inborn social skills, such as being able to follow a thought to its logical conclusion, without need for interruptions from the collective.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

"Do you think there is a prevalence, or is this just another medical term for a different type of personality?" The answer to the first is 'Probably yes, and for good reason'. Reasons which have already been well-discussed and need no addition from me. The answer to the second is, again, 'Probably yes'. I am of the opinion that both the medical (which includes the psychiatric) and the pharmaceutical community have a vested interest in categorizing a variety of naturally occurring human conditions as syndromes/diseases. There is money to be made at the feet of disease and syndrome.

tags
tags

This is the worst article and I wonder if it's a joke. If it is, it's in poor taste.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

you think you know something when you clearly do not. Donate your body to science as it's clear you can provide them with a totally unused brain. There is clear scientific medical evidence of the differences within the brain of someone who does have ADHD and a non ADHD person, the same applies to Aspergers. Both are hardwire issues in the brain that causes it to operate slightly different and these show in EEGs. Yes ADHD is grossly over diagnosed by mistake as the tool being used, the DSM IV, is faulty. That doesn't make the illness fake.

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

Please don't feel embarrassed about your condition, you are very welcome here.

kdavis
kdavis

I'm assuming that you are not just trolling for responses to a very inflamatory post. You obviously have not been around people who are actually affected by Autism spectrum disorders if you think they are imaginary. ADHD has been over diagnosed, but that does not make it any less real in most cases. Lyme disease is not even questioned. It is a real illness. And Peanut allergies? Evidently you've never been around someone who is so allergic they must carry an epi-pen around with them to prevent a fatal reaction. I'm sorry you have been so poorly informed about these very real ailments. I'm very happy that you do not apparently have any of them. Let's hope whatever illness you contract in the future isn't considered imaginary by your doctor and friends.

Tig2
Tig2

As an adult with ADHD- and what I am hearing from the doc lately, potentially AS- I can tell you unequivocally that the disorder is very real and tends to worsen with age. Treating my "differences" is no longer an option, it is a requirement. There is still a serious need to understand the impact of these neurodevelopmental issues on the aging population as well as a need to quantify the scientific research and develop better conclusions. At the present, newer MRI scanning seems to indicate a profile of the ADHD brain. SPECT imaging also has provided a profile, but the scientific community has yet to validate Dr. Amen's work down these lines so it is still considered to be speculative. Regardless, I am one of many who has to manage ADHD in my daily life. I am quite certain that the people with whom I interact daily would disagree with you regarding how impactful the untreated symptoms are. ETU

JimInPA
JimInPA

While I may have a tenancy to agree with you on ADHD to an extent, peanut allergies? I guess people have found a way to fake their throat swelling and choking to death? And Lyme disease? Come on man! get real!

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I have that in addition to my AS, and I understand that it is fairly common with people who have AS. dysgraphia, to put it simply, is when the brain can't get the hand to draw the words on paper, but typing is unaffected, the same way someone with a severe stutter can sing with no signs of it at all.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

The more I think about this, the more I like it. Particularly the second pair of interpretations. Pondering the concept of a [u]need[/u] for interruptions from the collective in order to reach a logical conclusion has me re-evaluating my perceptions of the behavior of a number of people who are very close to me. I'm still digesting the first pair...

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I've never thought of it that way, but there *is* certainly merit to that.

swheeler
swheeler

Living in the highly medicated culture of the US makes it difficult to wade through diagnosis and treatment. I've shared many of the good and bad experiences folks here have mentioned, though my personality quirk is major depression. I'm a Mensan, too, and joined to prove to myself I could still be intelligent in spite of my mental illness. I rather think the two play off one another. I'm lucky that I've dodged the labeling bullet and my shrink doesn't play to it, either. He recently prescribed me a medicine well known to be abused by adults that I didn't recognize by the generic name. By downplaying it, the fear of treatment is lessened. My personal choice to downplay my depression is to tell anyone who will listen as much as they want to know about my experiences. I've been "sober" for over ten years now. It's wonderful the insight to self one gains from being able to look back at past behavior with new eyes.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

This is a legitimate article, it's not a joke, and at worst, indifferent in taste. I work with a bunch of autistic spectrum disorder (ASF) boys in my scout troop. One who's got a label of Asperger's. And I have one son with Attention Deficite Disorder and the other with Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Lastest research indicates a strong genetic component to ASD. There's also a very interesting study going on where both parents are evaluated and found to have significant levels of autistic characteristics. Here's the list of the commonly accepted ones: - Insistence on sameness; resistance to change - Difficulty in expressing needs, using gestures or pointing instead of words - Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language - Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason showing distress for reasons not apparent to others - Preference to being alone; aloof manner - Tantrums - Difficulty in mixing with others - Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled - Little or no eye contact - Unresponsive to normal teaching methods - Sustained odd play - Spinning objects - Obsessive attachment to objects - Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain - No real fears of danger - Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity -Uneven gross/fine motor skills - Non responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests in normal range - monologuing - difficulty initiating or maintaining conversation - Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction - Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level - A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest) - Lack of social or emotional reciprocity - Delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gestures or mime) - Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language - Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level - Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus - Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals - Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements) - Persistent preoccupation with parts of object Now the presence of some of these characteristics, or many of them to a lesser degree, are actually of benefit within our society, and especially with the tasks needed in I.T. What might be an interesting survey would be the ratio of rate of couples who are both in I.T. who have an autistic spectrum disorder child compared to the general population. I exhibit several of the characteristics of autism, as does my wife, who is a school teacher; neither of us are autistic. About half of the traits I exhibit I share with her. And our autistic son exhibits most of the traits that we both have, and virtually none of the ones we don't. It could well be that the increase in autism rates is due to increased diagnosis, and modification of the definition to be more inclusive. It could also be that as more couples with autistic traits have children, that the increase in autism is due to something of an additive effect. Admittedly, an instance of one does not make a statistically valid sample; but it sure as hell makes an interesting personally significant one. Autism is a spectrum disorder. At one end you have people who a literally vegetables; at the other end you have people who are indistinguishable from normal. Most fall somewhere inbetween.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

How is this article in poor taste? What is it about it, and the discussion it has engendered, that offends you? There's been a great deal of information and explanation offered about a group of people that are misunderstood and misrepresented. It's one of the most interesting and engaging threads I've encountered on TR and it's introduced me to some people I'm absolutely delighted to have interacted with. Please, expand on what it is about this article that makes you feel this way. I'd like to try to help you see it in a different light.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

Who's to say that two brains functioning differently isn't "normal"? Some people function better in a slower paced environment, some in a faster one. We're not all the same (if we were, it would have been incredibly easy for nature to have evolved something that would have "extincted" us long ago). While I wouldn't go so far as to say that ADD and ADHD are fabricated, I would say that we don't know enough to say for certain that they really are a problem. I guess that's why they call it "practicing" medicine :)

KSoniat
KSoniat

You don't catch any breaks do you? How does one treat/handle AS? I have a friend who struggled her whole life until recently disagnosed (and treated) for ADHD. And I've pulled my son out of parochial school when they said if I medicated him he was welcome to stay otherwise he didn't "fit". So I've seen both sides of the issue. That still doesn't make me think a disease does not exist, just means we still don't know everything there is to know about it. I hadn't heard of AS before this article.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Not a few of his constructions have that effect.

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I was afraid I'd have to go through the entire article like that. I'm glad to see I clarified what I intended to say with somewhat less effort. Cheers.

Skeenj
Skeenj

I really mean it. It is necessary for people such as yourself, as well as celebrities, to "come out" as it were, about the struggles they face psychologically. This lessens the anxieties people have about admitting the issues they face, making treatment more likely to succeed. After reading your perspective, it made me wonder if you have ever read up on the notion of "depressive realism". Paraphrasing, it means that intelligent people that struggle with depression are really just seeing life the way that it is, without "rose colored glasses". I see a danger in this, but also some truth. What do you think? In some ways it feels like a glass half full or empty type of question, only getting at people's underlying optimism or pessimism.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

The jerks always come out of the woodwork whenever this topic, or any topic about folks who do not fit the mainstream come up. They fall into 2 groups. 1)Ignorant idiots - I don't think there is any such thing so therefore, there is no such thing. 2)Obnoxious jerks - I know that this is real, but it will be fun to get a rise out of people. I'm so used to these freaks, they no longer get a rise out of me. Don't let them get your goat, it's what they want. You're better than they.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

So anything at variance with what the society sees as normal isn't normal. In some societies it's normal to eat parts of people, especially the enemy, in others it isn't normal - so normal varies. ADD and ADHD have been scientifically proven to be existing medical conditions of physical differences from the accepted brain operations and functions of what society sees as the normal brain. The sad part is many of the doctors who diagnose ADD and ADHD do NOT do it by using the scientific testing of the physical aspects, ie an eeg, they do it by assessing the behaviour of the patient. Such behaviour is consistent with several other already known and proven medical conditions and also the behaviour of a right bastard. That's the problem in this area.

KSoniat
KSoniat

Wow! Too bad for the sister who refuses to consider she has it (especially with all of you surrounding her who do). Funny, I love the puns, satire and word play - but truly do not care for what I call "slap stick". Fortunately I seem to deal OK with people too. My son who exhibited some ADHD symptoms but not all, figured out early if he could leave the classroom and go run a few laps he could settle into his studies. We were blessed to have a teacher who allowed him to do just that. And Whoa! I never said anything about right or wrong side of the world - just acknowledged we were on opposites. Must be all that blood rushing to your head on the underside of the earth. ;)

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

My father and two uncles had AS, while do my brother, sister, three nephews, my grand nephew, my son, and myself all have it. We all have it to different degrees and it affects most of us in a different way. However, most of us found ways to cope. the one who copes the worst is my sister as she denies she has it, but clearly exhibits the major symptoms. Dealing with AS effectively today is different to how you did it a few decades ago. As a child I just accepted I did a lot of things differently to other people as the doctor never diagnosed me with AS or anything else. I started a process of doing things my way to get the results wanted, and ignored those who got mad about how I did things. My brother and father operated in a similar way, as did my two uncles. Most of us have been diagnosed as adults in the last decade; after my grand nephew was diagnosed we all ended up talking to doctors and they were able to reach a diagnosis. I think AS is responsible for our sense of humour as we're all into puns, satire, and very tricky humour. The old banana peel or pie in the face isn't funny to us, while the sly puns of the top British comedians are very funny. We're all good with maths and mechanical things, but not so hot with inter personal matters. I never really thought about it over the years, but in the last couple of years I've noticed a few people who have trouble dealing with people and when I get to know them better they have AS but haven't developed any coping methods. The younger ones get extra help in school to handle the school work, but not with learning how to cope. I learnt how to cope by having to deal with it at school by myself. This leaves me wondering how much we are helping people with some of these school assistance programs or if such programs actually teach the right things. BTW if you know any nice ladies who are available, and rich, please feel free to give them my email address. I'd love to meet a nice lady who can afford to keep me in the manner to which I'd love to become accustomed too. PS. I'm on the correct side of the world, it's you who's on the other side of the world. Have a nice day.

KSoniat
KSoniat

Thanks for the reply... it always means more coming from a person with experience. It's good that you have some coping mechanisms and understanding of dealing with AS. Always good talking to someone on the other side of the world!!!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

The effect AS has on ones life can vary with both the extent to which it's affected your processes and how it manifests itself the most. In my case the extent is milder than some others I know and I've developed strategies to deal with the way it impacts on my life, so as to minimise the impact. With my son the extent and major point of impact is in processing incoming information. he can handle visual input at about triple the speed of sound input. When talking to him you have to slow down to about one fifth of most people's talking speed for him to hear and understand what you're saying, but he can read at about normal speed. He manages most things by having people send him letters or emails instead of taking phone calls or face to face meetings. No IM, but chat is OK. I know others who manage with similar strategies, and some who can't manage that well.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

Re-evaluation or indigestion? ;-)

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I couldn't pass a 'required' non-major course to save my life. Math, GREAT! Anything computers... child's play. The rest... um, no

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[i]I recall being bored to the point of total frustration in school. ... Finally, I went to an IT school that typically washed out 50-75% of it's students.... and did just fine.[/i] "How to think" cannot be taught. Multiplication tables can. I've quit two colleges for overstepping their purview. I'll decide for myself which, if any, courses outside my major are important to me to know, thanks very much.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

An interesting quote by Michael Bloomberg. "The world is run by 'C' students". What he meant by that is that the brilliant don't do well in school. He didn't, Bill Gates got bored and quit, Einstein failed almost all his courses, George S Patton was a terrible student as well. The public schools in America, at least, aim at left of center of the bell curve. Therefore, the brightest of our students actually have a more difficult time then the lower-end students. I recall being bored to the point of total frustration in school. Then, I flunked out of college twice.... Finally, I went to an IT school that typically washed out 50-75% of it's students.... and did just fine.

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Cogs can be manufactured as uniformly as desired. Children, so far, cannot. Which is the way it should be.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

...the prevelance of diagnosis of AS and other Autism spectrum conditions is the result of the educational systems movement AWAY from the teaching techniques that are the techniques that people on the spectrum do best with. Examples: Rote learning of "times tables". Highly structured lessons. Rigid application of logic. Teaching via the socratic method.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

I think your fears were unnecessary - I seem to be the only person who misread your post. Time for a remedial reading course for me, I guess...

swheeler
swheeler

I?ve never heard of depressive realism but that?s how I?ve felt after receiving treatment. I have a pet phrase, ?There?s worse things,? that applies to everything outside of being trapped in a body insisting on immolation but incapable of acting. That?s how bad my last episode without medication got. I have new eyes because I?ve learned to appreciate being functional. I hate facades and social machinations. Political work environments set me up for failure. That?s why I quit after studying theatre costuming in college for a year. My partner dislikes the fact that I haven?t worked at one job for more than 3 years, but that?s just the way life goes. I?ve been fired from a job and told I ?wasn?t a good fit.? I?ve had other people love me because I use no smoke screens. It?s hard to ?be true to yourself? when you really need to stay employed. For me, I can?t help it, I just try to keep it down a little. =D

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

even some of the Deutsche Grammophon releases of classical music - well performed by very competent, professional musicians - would have one or two instruments out of tune. I would never have thought I'd be grateful for hearing loss....

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Enough to send me into a meltdown when I heard bad music. BUT... It deepened my appreciation for good music.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

L_L, did you find that having perfect pitch made it difficult to listen to music? When my pitch was at its best, the dissonance caused by a less than perfectly tuned instrument sometimes made it almost painful to enjoy listening to other musicians. It did make tuning instruments much easier, but overall I'm glad my pitch faded. Did you experience the same thing?

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

I have the honour of having the worst singing voice you are ever likely to hear - thus saving some other poor soul from this ignominious title. I often wish that I could sing, particularly because a beautiful or expressive voice can affect me so very deeply. I have invested in many IT products with the aim of making up for this lack, without success so far. And that is an additional IT connection for me. A PC based recording studio cannot judge, grimace, or shudder.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

but don't all the airplanes make it hard to listen to music? Oh - ;-)

A_dangerous_mind
A_dangerous_mind

I'm appalled but not surprised at what you just wrote. The 'experts' had things reversed! It reminds me of something in Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential (Marylou Kelly Streznewski) where she wrote that some career counselors, managers and supervisors have tried to assign repetitive, rote, predictable work and career paths to Gifted/Talented people with demonstrably high IQs -- which was exactly the opposite kind of work that a highly intelligent, creative person needs. It's exactly the kind of work that a person on the low end of the IQ scale needs, though, according to her. As far as I can see, it's part of the pathologizing mentality towards anyone that deviates from a very narrow view of normal -- equating what's good for one person who is labelled as pathological because of being different with another who is labelled as pathological because of being different. BTW -- I scored a perfect zero on an Asberger's screening test, but I am a member of Mensa.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Many people on the spectrum has synesthesia (I do to a degree) and can hear color and see music. There are certain colors that are literally 'loud' to me. The reason the low-key breaks are helpful is that the Autistic brain has no resting state. All that stimuli gets to you, and not in a good way. The drawing he was doing was his version of stimming, and I can relate. The stimming is venting of emotions in a harmless fashion, when you cut that off, you cut off a safety valve so of COURSE the result is going to be violent outbursts.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

but I do know that they placed boundaries on sensory stimulation in the form of allowable TV, music, the kind of lights in the house, muted colors, etc... They made a point to avoid high energy and input vacations - no Disneyland for example - in favor of very low-key, escape the wild world breaks. It was on one of these that his particular break-through occurred and he has been almost completely different ever since. I know they went strictly vegetarian at this time also, in relation to something she read about diet and autism. When they stopped fighting his tendency to withdraw from frustrating and/or scary situations by endlessly drawing the same figures and just let him be, he began to stop the violent behaviors that he had been using in place of the endless doodling. After his breakthrough he began to expand his doodlings and is really quite the artist. That is also when he decided to pick up piano. Perfect pitch - and timing. He hears a thing once and can play it. I'm in awe of that. I get rather po'd at some of the assumptions people make in relation to autism, AS, etc. This has been an interesting thread and I have learned a bit from all of you.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

If I hadn't, my career options would have been limited to custodial or assembly-line work.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

Further south, on the Palouse. Not quite as scenic, but I'm surrounded by wheat fields and lentils, quail, Ring-Necked Pheasants, porcupines, coyotes, elk and semi-feral cats and the occasional wolf or badger. And plagued by an overpopulation of deer and moose that are destroying our gardens and our orchard. Oh, and bears. Mustn't ignore the bears. They get grumpy if you ignore them...

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I had not yet seen it. My nephew is autistic. His parents embarked upon a course of work with him that has enabled him to overcome a great deal of the repetitive and sometimes dangerously so behaviors to which he was prone as a toddler. Today he is a brilliant (am I biased? probably but he is) 16 year old pianist, visual artist and aspiring composer. He holds a part-time job while being home schooled. Best of all he is happy and relatively outgoing. Had his parents not jumped out of the mainstream medical nightmare that was initially foisted upon him, I doubt that he would be so. He will always be a bit 'odd', but ya know, without him and all the other oddies of whatever stripe this would be one dull, dull rock in the universe. I will pass this along to my sister. Neither of us watch much TV so I imagine that she hasn't seen it either. Too, I am reminded of the movie 'Radio' with Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding, Jr..

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

And specifically about a variant of autism linked to music. Perfect pitch was one of the key characteristics. They interviewed a young woman who demonstrated her abilities by singing several operatic pieces, covering a total of seven languages and a wide accoustical range- all a cappella . It was astounding. Put a person in their appropriate element... P.S. Northern Idaho... Coeur D'Alene region? Gorgeous backyard ya' got there.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

Cool? It brought tears to my eyes! What a great kid! And what a great coach and team! Backstory: before my second back injury in 2004 disabled me, I played the drums in a local rock band. We had a gig to play a wedding for a couple of friends - it was great! Now I often got kids who came up after the show and wanted to "play the drums." When I first started playing in public, I would always refuse - my drum kit cost me more than my used '92 Saturn. But eventually I decided that kids were unlikely to be able to damage the kit, as long as I kept an eye on what they were doing - drums are, after all, designed to be hit with sticks by a strong, healthy adult. So I started letting them play, using discarded sticks that I let them keep. Back to the wedding - a young boy, I'd guess around 9 or 10, came up after the performance and wanted to play the drums. So I dug out an old pair of sticks, adjusted the kit a little and gave him a quick tutorial on how things worked and how to make noise. He was pretty good, though a little uncoordinated. Usually, kids get bored with it after 5 or 10 minutes, but he kept at it for more like 1/2 an hour. He ended up finding a "riff" he liked and stuck with it, embellishing it more and more as his confidence increased. After about half an hour, mom came and got him. About an hour after that, she came up to me to thank me, to verify that I *did* give him the drumsticks and to ask how much a drum kit cost. Her son is autistic and had never focussed on anything as intently or as long as he did on the drums. She said he was much calmer, happier and less agitated than he'd been in public in years; she wanted to get him a beginner's drum kit of his own. It really made my day. I later discovered that music, particularly percussion, is being used as therapy to help some autistics focus, improve coordination and express themselves.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

I was actually hoping tags would reply. I really *am* curious why he reacted that way. It may be that the topic hits too close to home for him so his response is to belittle it. Or he may just be a jerk. After a lifetime of delving into my own issues, I'm always curious about what makes people tick...