Can 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."