Techies Are Autistic

A Harvard psychiatrist says computer nerds are mildly autistic.

Proof? They talk like Mr Spock - formal, little emotion.
And they can't read people - no empathy.

Autistic kids also have difficulty connecting socially. They're hypersensitive and spend hours rocking or moving their hands rhythmically, to soothe themselves. (Bill Gates is reported to rock himself, spend hours on the trampoline, not make eye contact, and have trouble making social conversation).

The problem may lie in a part of the brain called the cerebellum which controls the shifting of attention. Children with cerebellar damage take six seconds to shift attention. This isn't fast enough to make out the fleeting changes of emotional expression and social information.

A smile erupts and disappears in a moment on a mother's face. The child with slow-shifting attention can't catch the smile or can't see what the mother is smiling at.

At best, he catches the shadow of her smile. Thus, he cannot tune in to people or share in a moment of joy. Later on, he may learn to tediously calculate what others are feeling.

Because attention shifting is slow, autistic people experience life as a series of freeze frames. They have trouble perceiving the whole. But they are far better than normal people at perceiving the parts. Some autistic artists can reproduce, in perfect detail, a building only seen once.

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