THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
THE ONE THING TWO PARTIES CAN AGREE ON

BARON-COHEN: IT'S THE GOLDEN AGE OF AUTISM!

ExcellentCan you imagine hearing someone say, "There's no better time for a soldier to get his legs blown off in Iraq because our ability to save mangled bodies and employ high tech prosthetics is at an all time high."  You'd pillory the person who said that, wouldn't you? 

How about the person who says this about autism? They may feel that the future is bleak for all of these newly diagnosed cases of autism. But I remain optimistic that, for a good proportion of them, it has never been a better time to have autism. Why? Because there is a remarkably good fit between the autistic mind and the digital age.

This is from an article that was published in January of 2007.  You can read it HERE.

"Simon Baron-Cohen Psychologist, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University; author, 'The Essential Difference'

The rise of autism:

Whichever country I travel to, attending conferences on the subject of autism, I hear the same story: autism is on the increase. Thus, in 1978, the rate of autism was four in 10,000 children, but today (according to a Lancet article in 2006) it is 1 per cent. No one quite knows what this increase is due to, though conservatively it is put down to better recognition, better services, and broadening the diagnostic category to include milder cases such as Asperger's syndrome.

It is neither proven nor disproven that the increase might reflect other factors, such as genetic change or some environmental (eg, hormonal) change. And for scientists to answer the question of what is driving this increase will require imaginative research comparing historical as well as cross-cultural data. Some may throw up their hands at this increase in autism and feel despair and pessimism. They may feel that the future is bleak for all of these newly diagnosed cases of autism. But I remain optimistic that, for a good proportion of them, it has never been a better time to have autism.

Why? Because there is a remarkably good fit between the autistic mind and the digital age. Computers operate on the basis of extreme precision, and so does the autistic mind. Computers are systems, and the autistic mind is the ultimate systemiser. The inherently ambiguous and unpredictable world of people and emotions is a turn-off for someone with autism, but a rapid series of clicks of the mouse that leads to the same result every time that sequence is performed is reassuringly attractive. Many children with autism develop an intuitive understanding of computers in the same way that other children develop an intuitive understanding of people.

So, why am I optimistic? For this new generation of children with autism, I anticipate that many of them will find ways to blossom, using their skills with digital technology to find employment, to find friends, and in some cases to innovate."

Comments

John Stone

Prof Baron-Cohen was at it again in Brian Deer's very own Sunday Times this weekend:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4882699.ece

A non-news story. The fallacy of Baron-Cohen is that in certain very exceptional cases a brilliant sequential memory (which is what any great actor or musician has to have) can assist an ASD person in developing life-skills, or being very creative.

On the other, and as usual he turns away from the huge devastation in many people's lives - many more people's lives than a generation ago. And this is all for consumption by people who do not have to grapple with the daily reality of autism.

More Sunday Times mythmaking.

K Fuller

Perhaps Baron-Cohen would volunteer to consume mass quanities of mercury and other toxin to prove his point. After all it is such a great time to be autistic. His statements are proof that he does not understand Autism at all.

Mark

I find this man more offensive that Borrat.

Stagmom

I went into an ice cream parlor today to buy a gift certificate for a friend who watched my three girls for an hour while Mark and I had to do grown up things. Autism does not have enough innovations yet to allow my kids to attend to the task at hand in some instances....

So, at the ice cream parlor a tall, muscular man was having a full blown screaming meltdown (pardon the pun) which I recognized instantly as autism. Shame the innovations of this golden age of autism haven't gotten to him. I gently asked the older, tired man who was trying to reason with the tantruming adult, "Can I help? Is this autism?" He looked shocked. I said, "I have three with autism." His answer? "I'm sorry. He hasn't done this in a year." And he coaxed his son down and got him to their van.

It's a fine time to have autism. Horsepucky as JB would say.

KarenAtlanta

Poop smearing, very innovative.

I think the Autism epidemic is creating a cottage industry of highly paid experts, who have no intention of finding cures or answers for very sick kids.
It would be career suicide.
Must we stomach more of this useless nonsense?

Jenny

I nominate him for a Bruno!

Teresa Conrick

And I thought his cousin was the comedian! What an ignorant and arrogant opinion he has as this is hardly a scientific fact. How is it that SBC has ignored the epidemic of diarrhea, constipation, inflammation,allergies, head banging, biting, no language, tics, OCD, bacteria, yeast, viruses, mercury, lead, aluminum, etc ? I guess he can't get by his moat in the Kingdom of Grandiosity and Money Making Opinion Pieces that Do Not Reflect True Autism. What a jerk.

Just zip it

Well this is yet one more example of mainstream thought about autism - let's focus on the brain to the exclusion of everything else. These people have no idea about the bio-medical horror our kids' bodies are undergoing on a daily basis and there is no one to tell them (thanks in no small part to deceitful organizations such as Autism Speaks).

For their own sakes, and for ours, it would be better if they just zipped it up!!

Stagmom

Amazing - so our kids can stim in front of a computer for 12 hours a day and that's good?????

John Robison (Look Me in The Eye) told me was that he felt a large part of HIS successful development with Aspergers was the fact that he HAD TO INTERACT with people - forced sociability. There were no kids TV shows and electronics in the late 50's. He thought that all the electronics of today isolates kids even further. And I think he's right. Take that Dr. Baron-Cohen.

Shannon Carpenter

It's the golden age for aids? It's the golden age for para-pelagic persons? Give me a break and our children too.

Gatogorra

Simon Baron-Antoinette-- let them have computers.

In an era when gas threatens to go to $7 a gallon, when military conflicts will continue to rise over lack of reasources as the earth heats up, when half the world's grain crops are being used for fuel...it's a good time to have autism? Huh? It's murder caring for effected children in prosperous countries, how about autism (for those "lucky" enough to get Western vaxes) in Darfur? How's that work? In Myanmar during a typhoon? On an Indian reservation? What happens to children who can't care for themselves in places where everyone's dying of hunger?

SBC's assertion is sick on so many levels that I'll just focus on the economics of it-- not the ravaged lives of parents of desperately sick children, the despicable residential care for those children once their parents die, the dire outcomes of the vast majority of individuals with unrecovered autism. Not everyone lives in a ****ing estate on the English moors, opining from ivy towers while being paid handsomely to spout pure convenient-to-medical-authorities ****.

Ugh. I'd recommend that SBC take up a position in a place more suited to his actual job description, but I'm afraid the honest working girls at the Chicken Ranch in Nevada would be offended.

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