News Stories

Geeks Have Autistic Children

There's a huge increase in autism cases in Europe and theU.S., especially in Silicon Valley, California, where asmany as one in 150 children have some form of the disorder.Now scientists say this may be due to the type of genesfound in high-tech workers. Workers who have the complexanalytical skills needed to succeed in high-tech industryand are socially awkward "computer geeks" may be carryinggenes that contribute to the condition. In high-tech areas,these "genetically-loaded" men are more likely to meetpartners who also carry autistic genes, increasing theirchances of having autistic children.

There has been a 273% increase in the number of autisticchildren in Silicon Valley between 1987 and 1998, and asimilar situation is developing in the "Silicon Fen" area ofhigh-tech industry surrounding Cambridge in the U.K. Ratesof autism have soared over the past two decades, and much ofthis has been attributed to better diagnosis of thecondition, since previously, many of these children weresimply described as ?backward.? Boys are 4 times more likelyto be autistic than girls. Since males are generally betterat math than females, scientists think autism may be a kindof "extreme maleness, " an amplification of the natural biasin many boys that favors analytical skills over socialabilities.

Dr. Robin Hansen, a pediatrician from the Mind Institute inSacramento, says, "If your father has four genes and is acomputer whiz, and your mother has three genes, you mightwell get all seven and get full-blown autism. Clearlythere's a sort of mating where you don't like change and youare a little bit awkward socially and you meet a person whois a little bit awkward socially too."

While autistic children lack key social skills, they oftenhave remarkable abilities in other areas. Could autism be aform of evolution, producing humans who will be able toadapt to a highly technological future, in which science ismore important than emotional and artistic expression?

Athletes are special human beings as well, since many ofthem have learned how to manipulate time. Read about howthey do it in ?Perfect Timing? by Von Braschler,click here.

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