Links below are to an article interviewing Simon Baron-Cohen about his Autism-Engineer Hypothesis. Excerpt:
"If Baron-Cohen is right, today's male engineer is more likely to leave the house wearing a stained tie than his professional forebears, simply because he is more likely to be married to a woman who is herself of the systemizing persuasion...Such "assortative mating," as he calls it, would have served to concentrate the critical genes, increasing the chance that such a couple will give birth to the most extreme systemizers of all those with autism."
Baron-Cohen's latest article is Two new theories of autism: hyper-systemising and assortative mating.
In fact, older studies like Autism occurs more often in families of physicists, engineers, and mathematicians had claimed higher rates of autism among families with fathers or grandfathers in engineering, but as personality / MBTI studies of engineers have shown, a majority of engineers are of an introverted and thinking temperament, and current at autism diagnostic criteria being what it is, I can't help thinking that this alone would qualify many engineers (or children who will grow up to become engineers) to meet a few "spectrum" checkpoints just on the basis of some reduced eye contact, fewer peer relationships (especially compared to extroverts), and suboptimal conversational ability. But is this a disease?
Introverted children are often slower to warm up when meeting new people, and this may include being interviewed at a doctors appointment as well as in performance situations in conventional classrooms.
The figure below shows what Baron-Cohen and his group originally found when they administered psych questionnaires to students at Cambridge University. Autism higher in the maths group, whereas manic-depression higher in the English / Humanities crowd.
What the field needs is a better tool to distinguish normal differences in the criteria of behavioral diseases such as autism of Aspergers syndrome. Every field has its own differences in the personalities and temperament types it attracts. What is difference and what is disability needs to defined.
BTW, it didn't seem so long ago that Baron-Cohen wrote about The Extreme-male-brain theory of autism. Could Baron-Cohen Be linking extreme maleness with the engineering profession?
Thanks, John, for the HT.
Autism and Engineers- IEEE
Personality Types in Engineering pdf
Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child
Activities Where Introverted Children Can Win
Technorati tags: autism, Aspergers, personality, temperament, psychology, engineering, introversion