One in sixty-eight children are now on the autism spectrum, according to the Centers for Disease Control. We argue over whether this is a diagnostic or epidemic phenomena, but either way, neurodiversity has always been with us, shaping history.
Steve Silberman, answering question from Carl Zimmer:
One way to understand it is to think of human operating systems. Just because a computer is not running Windows does not mean it's broken. It's doing things in different ways. Autistic people are bad at reading social signals but good at detecting flaws in visual patterns. They have a hard time coping with surprise, but they're good at pursuing a personal interest with great focus and intensity. So instead of diseases and cures and causations, we should think of autism as a different way of being that deserves respect and accommodation in society.
The follow-up question was "But what about someone who is violently banging their head against a filing cabinet?"