Genius Genes: How Asperger's Syndrome changed the world

 Michael Fitzgerald and Brendan O’Brien (2007).

What makes a true artistic genius?  Is there a genetic basis for the spark that sets them apart?

This book examines influential figures on various fields including Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Alfred C. Kinsey, Thomas Jefferson, Stonewall  Jackson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

“The new view is that people with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) not only have a disability (in managing rapidly changing social situations) but also have talents (in attention to tiny details, persevering in pursuing a single topic in depth for long periods, and the ability to see unchanging patterns).

Fitzgerald and O’Brien have produced a beautiful book illustrating how some of the greatest innovators in history may have had a significant number of autistic traits or might have warranted a diagnosis of AS, had they been alive today.  They recognise that for historical figures such speculation can never be validated beyond fragmented biographical evidence, and that these great figures may not be representative of all people with AS.  Nevertheless, their point is well made: people with AS should not be viewed as having a “disease” in need of a cure or eradication.  They need support for their disability (which can be overwhelming) whilst at the same time they need an environment that is “AS-friendly”, where their talents can flourish.  Just occasionally, such talents can lead to important new insights or creativity.

The scientific importance of this new view, which fits with the evidence from our own lab over the past decade, is that the genes that cause AS may also be involved in producing such talent”.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, University of Cambridge.

 “I wish this book had been available when I was being teased in high school for being a weird nerd.  Genius Genes is recommended reading for individuals on the autism spectrum and for anyone who has ever been called a nerd.  It will help them feel good about themselves and .motivate them to achieve their dreams”

Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and Developing Talents.

 “Above and beyond the question of whether these giants of intellect and creativity merited a diagnosis of autism, Genius Genes establishes how people with the characteristics of Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism have contributed greatly to humanity, western civilization in particular.  This is a must read for anyone interested in how people with different ways of being can make the world a better place”.

Stephen Shore, author of Beyond the Wall:  Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome; editor and contributor to Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum; co-author of Understanding autism for Dummies, member of the Board of Directors of the Asperger’s Association of New England and the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of America.

Autism Asperger Publishing Company, 15490 Quivira Road, Overland Park,

Kansas 66221, U.S.A.

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