Autism may be associated with mathematical skills. Autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen has published studies that autism is more prevalent in the familes of physicists, engineers, and mathematicians. Unusual mathematical skills are reported in a small percentage of cases of ”classic autism.” Movies, television, and popular culture such as Rainman (1988), Mercury Rising (1998), and many other works often play up this rare association by presenting autistic characters with extreme mathematical abilities.

It has frequently been suggested that various scientists and mathematicians including the Nobel Prize winning physicist Paul Dirac, the Russian mathematician and Fields Medal refuser Grigori Perelman, and Fields Medal winner Richard Borcherds have had or have Asperger’s Syndrome, now included in the autism spectrum. Vernon L. Smith who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2002 has stated that he has Asperger’s Syndrome. Wired Magazine popularized the notion of an association of Asperger’s syndrome and autism with computer technology and math in the article The Geek Syndrome by Steve Silberman.

» John F. McGowan |