Autism is characterised by both a lack of empathy and a tendency to ‘hyper-systemise’. ‘Hyper-systemising’ is the practice of creating patterns, coupled with the often obsessive desire to understand how they work.
Certain industries that require engineering, scientific, mathematic and technological skills, demand this kind of highly systematic thinking.
Prof Baron-Cohen, cousin of controversial comedian Sacha Baron (most famously known as Ali-G), believes that if both parents work in a mathematical field of work then they are more likely to have an autistic child.
The professor’s theory rests on the basis that humans choose partners who are genetically similar to them- otherwise known as the ‘assortative mating hypothesis’.
Currently, scientists accept that autism occurs as a combination of genetics and environment, although the root cause has yet to be fully established.
There are approximately half a million people with autism living in the UK, equivalent to 1 in every 100 people. According to researchers, this number has grown hugely over the past 20 years.
It is unknown whether the boom in numbers is due to a boom in autism, or a boom in diagnosis. Many cases of autism prior to the 1980s may simply have passed unrecognised.
Prof Baron-Cohen said: “Fathers of children with autism are more likely to work in engineering and this is also true of grandfathers of children with autism on both sides of the family. We also know from a 2001 study that mathematicians have more autistic traits than people in the general population.”
If you or your child has a form of autism, there may be certain issues you require help with. A counsellor can offer guidance and support throughout all aspects of life. To find out more, you may wish to visit out pages about Child Related Issues, Asperger’s Syndrome or Stress.
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