Cambridge Autism Study Confirms the Obvious

In less-than-earth shattering news, a recent study done by the University of Cambridge, with The Science of Evil author, Simon Baron-Cohen as one of the researchers, finds that areas heavily involved with the information technology industry have a higher incidence of school children with autism. The authors conclude that autism-related genes express themselves as a talent for system-oriented thinking and may persist in the gene pool because they are linked to “adaptive, advantageous traits." 

How much time and money were spent on this study to confirm the obvious? Anyone in touch with the world of autism knows that children on the spectrum gravitate towards technology, as evidenced by the iPad revolution and the multitude of apps available for those with special needs. 

Pardon my impatience, but I live in Seattle, land of Microsoft. The suburban area around Microsoft has an extraordinarily high concentration of children with autism, a correlation around here that people take for granted. 

Of course, individuals with autism tend to systematize. Even people with autism who aren’t overtly involved with technology see the overarching order in their world. Talk to Temple Grandin about her radical vision of slaughterhouse systems, or talk to one of my sons about where heavy metal fits into the schemata of all known music. 

Six years ago, I heard Dr. Tony Attwood postulate that people with high functioning autism are on the cutting edge of a new evolution and it is incumbent upon the world to to appreciate them in that light. 

I just wish researchers would not devote precious time and resources to scientifically proving things that are already common knowledge, then presenting their findings with a global drum roll. 

Why don’t we investigate the issues that will actually make a meaningful impact and help improve the quality of life for our children with autism?