Navigating Love and Autism

by The NewYork Times

GREENFIELD, Mass. — The first night they slept entwined on his futon, Jack Robison, 19, who had since childhood thought of himself as “not like the other humans,” regarded Kirsten Lindsmith with undisguised tenderness.

She was the only girl to have ever asked questions about his obsessive interests — chemistry, libertarian politics, the small drone aircraft he was building in his kitchen — as though she actually cared to hear his answer. To Jack, who has a form of autism called Asperger syndrome, her mind was uncannily like his. She was also, he thought, beautiful. Continue reading

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The Hidden Potential of Autistic Kids

by Live Science

When I was in fifth grade, my brother Alex started correcting my homework. This would not have been weird, except that he was in kindergarten—and autistic. His disorder, characterized by repetitive behaviors and difficulty with social interactions and communication, made it hard for him to listen to his teachers. He was often kicked out of class for not being able to sit for more than a few seconds at a time. Even now, almost 15 years later, he can still barely scratch out his name. But he could look at my page of neatly written words or math problems and pick out which ones were wrong.

Many researchers are starting to rethink how much we really know about autistic people and their abilities. These researchers are coming to the conclusion that we might be underestimating what they are capable of contributing to society. Autism is a spectrum disease with two very different ends. At one extreme are “high functioning” people who often hold jobs and keep friends and can get along well in the world. At the other, “low functioning” side are people who cannot operate on their own. Many of them are diagnosed with mental retardation and have to be kept under constant care. But these diagnoses focus on what autistic people cannot do. Now a growing number of scientists are turning that around to look at what autistic people are good at. Continue reading