Those on the Spectrum Might be the Most Misrepresented Group in Today’s Society


  1. John Elder Robison says:

    The quote attributed to me is incomplete, and as such, misleading. The actual passage in the book read, “Recent articles suggest that a touch of Asperger’s is an essential part of much creative genius.” While that statement is true – many contemporaneous articles make such reference – it is important to note that the original source of the quote was Dr. Hans Asperger himself. When reviewing the outcomes of his 1938 patients, Dr Asperger noted that one went on to win a Nobel Prize, and two to distinguished professorships. So with respect to the body of patients from which Asperger’s was originally defined, that would seem to be a fair statement.

    Later reviews found the symptoms described by Drs. Kanner and Asperger as essentially indistinguishable, though Asperger’s was later taken to mean a more mild form of autism.

    It does not in any way suggest that all or even most people with this diagnosis will achieve such success; merely that some will and that the Asperger’s is in some way instrumental in that success, when it happens.

    Whatever you think about autism, gifts, and success, it is undeniable that some autistic people are profoundly disabled by the condition, and they seek relief. Recognizing the gifts autism may bring to some does not deny the reality of the disability it brings, too.

    • Roberta Hill Roberta Hill says:

      Thank you for the clarification and your comment.

    • Yuval Levental says:

      Thanks for replying.

      I remember now that we talked about this before. I don’t know if I should have included your quote, as it said “a touch of Asperger’s”, not “Asperger’s”, so I exaggerated there. Asperger’s syndrome as discovered by Dr. Asperger was very little known outside the German-speaking world until the late eighties, whereas the rest of the spectrum was known. Of course, the definition of ASDs are so vague his research subjects could easily have had completely different brains from Kanner.

      I guess I should have said that Autism is not necessarily associated with genius as my main point. I was trying to make a direct counterpoint, which I now see is overly extreme. However, based on my life experiences, people assumed that because I was good at one aspect of learning, that it was my fault that I struggled in other areas. So at least this stereotype needs to be broken. Too often, figures like Gates and Zuckerberg are the sole public face of Autism, and as far as I know, they never required special assistance in any area in life. I’m not saying the problem is that I wasn’t a multibillionaire or famous, the problem is that I couldn’t even function to a normal degree in public whereas they are reknown.

  2. Claudia Mazzucco says:

    “Einstein was slow in learning how to talk. Even after he had begun using words, sometime after the age of 2, he developed a quirk that prompted the family maid to dub him “der Depperte,” the dopey one, and others in his family to label him as “almost backwards.” His slow development was combined with a cheeky rebelliousness toward authority, which lead one school master to send him packing and another to amuse history by declaring that he would never amount to much. These traits made Albert Einstein the patron saint of distracted school kids everywhere. But they also helped to make him, or as he later surmised, the most creative scientific genius of modern times. ”

    “To use the language of psychologists, the young Einstein’s ability to systematize was far greater than his ability to empathize, which has led some to ask if he might have exhibited mild symptoms of some developmental disorder. However, it is important to note that, despite his aloof and occasionally rebellious manner, he did have the ability to make close friends and to empathize with colleagues and humanity in general.”

    ~ Walter Issacson in Einstein, His Life and Universe, 2007, Simon & Schuster, New York (pp. 8, 9, 12 & 13)

  3. Bill Peters says:

    While you have the right to your opinion I disagree with you. We need acceptance and accomadations not a cure, I’d like to know why a successful life to you means a life without autism, to me success to many people is differnt, this veiw that somehow autism acceptance is a bridge too far is alarming cause your saying that you can’t live a good life with autism yet many people I know have including myself.

    • Bill Peters says:

      Also life and opptunities for people with autism are improving all the time a cure will wipe away all these things cause why accomadations or understand or improve opptunities if we can just make you disappear via a pill or cure?