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Geekiness and autism: Is there a connection?

I've addressed this issue in a few past blogs, generally arguing that stereotypes, even positive ones, are not helpful for a group. A positive stereotype about Asian students, black athletes, or autistic scientists is still a stereotype that ignores the experiences of individuals and creates illusions of what is normal in those groups.

Geekiness and autism: Is there a connection? – GeekOut - Blogs

Yes, I'll admit I am a technically-skilled, science-loving person. But I enjoy creative writing. Even the "geek" stereotype bothers me (which is often reduced to socially awkward "nerd" and not actually technical skill, anyway).

Autism, to me, is the hyper-sensitivity of the senses. It is migraines. It is seizures. It is the inability to understand social nonsense (and much of it is nonsense). It is a physical reaction to things that don't seem to cause physical / sensory reactions for other people.

Autism is not about any special gifts. It's the challenges caused by the traits I associate with autism.

I have a preference for computers and solitary work because they spare me the social interactions I dislike. I particularly dislike new situations and I really dislike the fluid nature of workplace socializing.

My theory: Many of us end up "gifted" with computers or science, or some special field because we would rather sit alone and read or do that one thing to remain calm and focused. It is relaxing, at least for me, to sit and write computer code or poetry or whatever I am writing, at my desk in my office without any other people around — but maybe a cat or two at my side.

That preference, even a need, to be alone in a predictable and secure space, leads me to exercise some skills for hours at a time. Of course my technical skills improve. You spend hours reading about and perfecting something, you'll get better at that task.

Anyway, if you do read the article the comments are fairly revealing, too.


  1. Hi, CS. I agree with you that, while 'geekiness' is partially captured by ascribing it to some on the autism spectrum, it fails to capture the broader interests of those on the spectrum. Like you said, some are fantastic writers, others are great athletes, others are musicians.


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