Dear people with autism, thank you for the technology – News

Last Saturday, April 2, was World Autism Day. Yay! Is that a good reason to throw a party? Or would we rather see autism ‘cured’? If it were up to me, a man with autism, they shouldn’t be inventing that pill. I am quite happy with my iPhone. You don’t think we would have made much technological progress without the autistic brain, do you?

First and foremost, my autism can be really annoying at times. I can sometimes drown for hours in a detail that really only matters in my own head, or sometimes I can feel so empty socially that you could cast me in a zombie movie. And, I can often cause a neurosis in my fellow man as well. For example, when people ask me to say ‘greetings’, I sometimes say that they should send an email with ‘hello’ themselves. Or even more annoyingly, and much to my girlfriend’s delight, I sometimes have a ‘word of the week’, where I experience a passionate love for a certain word for a week, and want to continuously force it into every conversation (guess my word of the week based on this text?).

Dear people with autism, thank you for the technology.

But, and now my point, luckily not all about autism is doom and gloom. Maybe autism hasn’t been so bad from an evolutionary point of view?

Let’s start at the beginning, the real beginning, in the time when we were all ‘hunter-gatherers’. Presumably it was the autistic people who, through their higher perception of differences, were the masters of tracking, distinguishing one animal from another. Or, were they the ones who could continue to test which stone made the sharpest spear because of their maniac focus?

In any case, autism has not succumbed to selection pressure, so it must not have been that bad. In fact, we are currently seeing the opposite. In certain parts of the world, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, autistic people seem to be reproducing en masse. You could argue that autism might even be an advantage there to find a partner, who would have ever thought that? One possible explanation is that they often hold senior positions in important companies, which often attracts them, or simply because the ‘kind seeks kind’ strategy is just that little bit easier there.

It is not surprising that people with autism do well in technology companies. They often have strong logic capabilities, which is the only real necessary requirement to write computer code. They may also be stuck for hours on a technical problem where a neurotypical person had long turned to endless Facebook scrolling. A computer also does what you ask, even if you don’t take the time to tell it how bad the weather is outside. But, although the autistic brain lends itself perfectly to technical jobs, it is important to nuance that people with autism are often particularly good at creative jobs, partly because their brain is often a lightning-fast knowledge vacuum cleaner.

Let us not automatically assume that autism automatically implies a disorder, but let us also question the social structure into which we sometimes frantically push people.

Bottom line, you could say that having autism in San Francisco is not necessarily a problem for everyone. It’s a place where environmental factors don’t get in the way of genetic factors, and can sometimes even catalyze them into a strength. For example, the company structure there is often flat, because people with autism simply do not think blind slavery is very logical. There is also a culture of directness in communication there, which helps if you have a colleague who can’t resist telling you that your breath really stinks that day. It’s also completely okay there to program from your basement in your underwear for 4 days, if there are no necessary meetings. Maybe we can learn something from that in Belgium?

And if you think about it a little deeper, people with autism can actually just be themselves there, that’s all there is to it. They must not deny themselves to fit into an abstract structure invented in industrial eras. For me personally it is precisely that disconnection from myself, that heroic quest to continuously trim my puzzle piece to fit into the puzzle, in the classroom, at work, etc., that my autism also effectively has a disorder made. But, and this is also important, every person with autism is different.

So, on World Autism Day, let’s celebrate all the technological advancements that the autistic brain has brought us. Who knows what kind of futuristic scenarios this will end up in? Let us not automatically assume that autism automatically implies a disorder, but let us also question the social structure into which we sometimes frantically push people. And above all let’s raise a glass to all these beautiful autistic people, thank them for their authenticity and sincerity. That they should never deny themselves.

On his blog and podcast 20angles, Steven De Blieck takes a closer look at autism, awareness and other topics.

First and foremost, my autism can be really annoying at times. I can sometimes drown for hours in a detail that really only matters in my own head, or sometimes I can feel so empty socially that you could cast me in a zombie movie. And, I can often cause a neurosis in my fellow man as well. For example, when people ask me to say ‘greetings’, I sometimes say that they should send an email with ‘hello’ themselves. Or even more annoyingly, and much to my girlfriend’s delight, I sometimes have a ‘word of the week’, where I experience a passionate love for a certain word for a week, and want to continuously force it into every conversation (guess my word of the week based on this text?). But, and now comes my point, luckily not everything about autism is doom and gloom. Maybe autism hasn’t been so bad from an evolutionary point of view? Let’s start at the beginning, the real beginning, in the time when we were all ‘hunter-gatherers’. Presumably it was the autistic people who, through their higher perception of differences, were the masters of tracking, distinguishing one animal from another. Or, were they the ones who could continue to test which stone made the sharpest spear because of their maniacal focus? In fact, we are currently seeing the opposite. In certain parts of the world, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, autistic people seem to be reproducing en masse. You could argue that autism might even be an advantage there to find a partner, who would have ever thought that? One possible explanation is that they often hold senior positions in important companies, which often attracts them, or simply because the ‘kind seeks kind’ strategy is just that much easier there. It is not surprising that people with autism do well in technology companies. They often have strong logic capabilities, which is the only real necessary requirement to write computer code. They may also be stuck for hours on a technical problem where a neurotypical person had long turned to endless Facebook scrolling. A computer also does what you ask, even if you don’t take the time to tell it how bad the weather is outside. But, although the autistic brain lends itself perfectly to technical jobs, it is important to nuance that people with autism are often particularly good at creative jobs, partly because their brain is often a super-fast knowledge vacuum cleaner. that having autism in San Francisco is not necessarily a problem for everyone. It’s a place where environmental factors don’t get in the way of genetic factors, and can sometimes even catalyze them into a strength. For example, the company structure there is often flat, because people with autism simply do not think blind slavery is very logical. There is also a culture of directness in communication there, which helps if you have a colleague who can’t resist telling you that your breath really stinks that day. It’s also completely okay there to program from your basement in your underwear for 4 days, if there are no necessary meetings. Maybe we can learn something from that in Belgium? And if you think about it a little more deeply, people with autism can actually just be themselves there, that’s all there is to it. They must not deny themselves to fit into an abstract structure invented in industrial eras. For me personally it is precisely that disconnection from myself, that heroic quest to continuously trim my puzzle piece to fit into the puzzle, in the classroom, at work, etc., that my autism also effectively has a disorder made. But, and importantly, every person with autism is different. So, on World Autism Day, let’s celebrate all the technological advancements that the autistic brain has brought us. Who knows what kind of futuristic scenarios this will end up in? Let us not automatically assume that autism automatically implies a disorder, but let us also question the social structure into which we sometimes frantically push people. And above all let’s raise a glass to all these beautiful autistic people, thank them for their authenticity and sincerity. That they should never deny themselves. On his blog and podcast 20angles, Steven De Blieck takes a closer look at autism, awareness and other topics.

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