Asperger Syndrome, a Trait in Great Demand

asperger syndrome

Asperger syndrome has been long considered an obstacle in a child’s harmonious social development, but nowadays this disorder on the autistic spectrum has become a trait in great demand, especially when it comes to the labor market. Even though it is still perceived by some as autism, what determined pediatrician Hans Asperger to nickname children suffering from Asperger syndrome “little professors” was the preoccupation they had for a certain subject and the reason why most of those who know how to channel their gift end up being prodigies.

According to Doctor Tony Attwood, a world authority on this disorder described the syndrome as a “different way of thinking” that has transformed Asperger into a trait in great demand, especially in the field of technology, where an eye for details is highly valued. Director Steven Spielberg has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and experts speculate that Bill Gates has traits that could be associated with this disorder.

“Most of the major advances in science and art have been made by people with Asperger’s, from Mozart to Einstein,” Attwood said.

The most notable differences between Asperger syndrome and autism are that the former does not usually involve a speech delay and autism symptoms are generally not so severe. The disorder discovered in 1944 boosts the individuals’ language skills, memory and level of intelligence, therefore narrow special interests can become obsessive , but also brilliant as the world’s prodigies demonstrate.

Although the root of Asperger syndrome remains a mystery, researchers suggest that it might be connected to early developmental changes in brain structure, which could be triggered by “abnormal migration of embryonic cells during fetal development,” as the National Institutes of Health shows. Therefore, the statement according to which prodigies are usually born, not made walks hand in hand with the definition of Asperger syndrome, which is no longer considered simply a disorder, but a trait in great demand in the labor market.

The Thin Line Between Syndrome and Genius

Asperger is a syndrome that still stigmatizes brilliant, yet socially challenged people, but a recent study of eight young prodigies links their genius with the disorder and proves that Asperger could become a trait in great demand, professionally speaking.

As the study shows, all prodigies have exceptional working memories, a characteristic that people with Asperger syndrome master and score high in autistic traits like attention to details. In short, the smartest children that become brilliant professionals could have some genetic trait or learned skill which helps them maintain focus without suffering from other defects that generally accompany autism spectrum disorders.

Today’s Prodigies

Although there are no clear, fundamental findings that link the prodigies to Asperger syndrome, researchers believe that Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Carl Sagen and many other illustrious people’s geniuses have been touched by this disorder.

Other prodigies who could have this syndrome are Gregory Smith, four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee who could read by the time he was two and experimented life as a college student at the age of ten and Michael Kevin Kearney, the world’s youngest college graduate. Kim Ung-Yong was hired at NASA when he was six years old and Saul Aaron Kripke was a ten-year-old Harvard professor.

Asperger syndrome remains a mysterious disorder that affects social skills and sometimes triggers alienation, but employers who manage people suffering from this condition have stated that they are highly productive and successful, traits in great demand in the labor market.

By Gabriela Motroc


The Week
The Sydney Morning Herald
Business Insider

34 Responses to "Asperger Syndrome, a Trait in Great Demand"

  1. Col   March 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I really liked the article and can believe that people with Asperger’s are increasingly in demand in some business fields; however, many of us (I’m an Aspie) don’t get diagnosed until later in life and often find ourselves in employment where we can’t use our skills to their greatest potential. I find myself in that position and it seems likely there are many others like me.

    I don’t know, if I have any “special interests” or not. I have a strong interest in photography (portraiture, ironically) and Photoshop, which may be seen as a “special interest”. I believe this is the kind of field I should be working in but am finding it very hard to make the transition. There will be many more people with AS, who will struggle to get into the ‘correct’ field of employment.

    If you’re interested, the following video may illustrate what constitutes a “special interest”-

  2. Dana   March 5, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Aspie’s DO make good fathers! And husbands! My Aspergers husband is devoted to my son and I and he can provide well because he is a genius at architecture. Those who make sweeping gemeralizations are incorrect. And I don’t consider it a disorder. It’s a different way of thinking. Why do NTs get to say what is normal?

    • SuperDuperNathansMom   March 5, 2014 at 11:25 am

      BINGO!! Great comments Dana! I agree, it’s all in the thinking. If you treat it as a deficit, it will be. We’ve always taught our teenage son that he is differently-ABLED, not disabled. My son is a carbon copy of my husband and my husband is a fantastic father..

  3. preston campbell   March 5, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Just because Asp isnt in the DSM anymore, doesnt change anything as far as the person ajd what they are experiencing, along with their families. Manic depressive disorder was remived a few years ago and the diagnosis was moved to bipolar spectrum. I am 42 and suffer from Asp syndrome and my 9 year old also has it. I was tested at 10 years old with an IQ of 135 and later at 29 with an IQ of 142. La ti da, i have been married twice, havent heldthe same job for more than 5 years and have no friends other than my kids and my wife. Im glad to see an article celebrating the few brilliant minds with Asp, but there are more without Ado that are just as influential and successful. The struggles behind the scenes are the true stories of aspergers.

  4. Grandparent   March 5, 2014 at 6:10 am

    I am the grandparent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. I can tell you that not everyone with this diagnosis considers it a blessing. Trying to find where your child’s strengths can fit into the world so that they can live a productive, happy life is quite a challenge. I am hopeful that with the love and support of family and the very few friends who understand the condition, our grandchild will be able to live a successful and more importantly a happy life. Conversations like this are very helpful because the more people talk about this the more understanding there will be. Thanks for the opportunity!

  5. ChildofAspieMother   March 5, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Some Aspie’s may succeed in the work force, but they never make good parents. Please look at when the children with Asperger’s grow up to have families. The core of autism does not allow for listening, comforting or perception of emotions of the children they raise.

    • Florence   April 2, 2014 at 9:35 am

      I think I’m a damned good parent, thank you! I have raised two successful, compassionate children who now are fantastic parents themselves.

    • Col   April 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Sorry to hear your experience of growing up.

      Mine was very different, as my father is either undiagnosed AS or in the Broad Autism Phenotype. He is one of the kindest, calmest, most intelligent and understanding people I have ever met.

  6. Shari Forsythe   March 5, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Autism is a spectrum disorder. I am a mom of a young adult on the spectrum. He does not have any “special” talent as far as we can see (please stop asking us about it). He is a lovely, kind, intelligent young man who struggles daily in every aspect of his life, due to the disorder. I would have liked him to have had the “Bill Gates” variety of ASD–if Bill even has ASD. However, we, like millions of other families, got the much more prevalent “garden variety” type. It has immeasurably shaped his world and ours.

  7. Skip   March 4, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I agree with Brent and Aaron. My 15 yr old daughter was diagnosed 3 yrs ago. She knows everything you never wanted to know about anime, mario and sonic the hedgehog. She knows every voice actor for every cartoon out there. And talks about them all day. She also likes to listen, and sing along, to all kinds of Japanese cover songs. I have tried to get her to direct that focus towards something more marketable but she is not listening to that. She already has a studio in Dallas picked out to send a voice reel. I am concerned about her adult future.

    • Col   April 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      It’s worth looking on Facebook for the support groups for people on the spectrum, families, friends, etc. There are a lot of people with similar concerns and it’s definitely worth a look.

      My experience is sounds similar to your daughter’s in many ways (diagnosed later mid 30s though) and it’s only now that I’m really learning to treasure my Aspie traits and actively look for work where I can really utilise them. I think we often have really specific and well developed skillets (whether we have special interests or not) and working life can be tremendously satisfying when we find employment where we can put them to work.

  8. ros   March 4, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    My son was diagnosed with aspergers when he was 31 by the wonderful Tony Attwood. He is now 45. lives on his own and works part time. Held the same job for 22 years till 12 months ago. I have longed for him to have a special friend and to be able to share more deeply about his emotional side. However he is very content and loves his bowling for the disabled each week. Social dance one a month and attends the same church for the past 40 years. People have been very supportive once they know the problem. He has just commenced a course in warehousing and is enjoying the challenge. Not brilliant by any means but a very special person. I get concerned about his future when I die but hopefully family will gather and take over. It sure has made me a more understanding person.

  9. Caolan O'Domhnaill   March 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I have Aspergers and it has been more of a liability than a boon. I struggle with it everyday as a software engineer who has to work well with others on a team. Luckily everyone on my team is understanding of my quirks and knows that when I do or say something inappropriate it is not meant to offend. This had not always been the case. I have had several contracts and fulltime employment over the years where the teams don’t care and I get let go for “wrong fit” reasons despite being a good engineer.

    I have gone into the wrong field though. I had an aptitude early on for mechanical engineering but 25yrs into my field is a little too late to start over in that career despite my obsessions over propulsion systems.

    • Col   April 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      I get where you’re coming from- I just left a job because of ‘wrong fit’ reasons. I hadn’t been happy in it but now I’m pursuing something where I can put my real skills to work. Currently looking at starting my own business while working part-time in a field more suited to my computer skills.

  10. Brayden S.   March 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    This is something that I think everybody should know. According to the new DSM-5, Asperger’s is no longer a disorder. The reason for this is that the DSM-5 task force concluded that it was not a distinct disorder. And in many cases, those previously diagnosed with Asperger’s were actually cases of high-functioning autism, while some other cases were patterns that did not really involve autistic-like functioning. Those where were previously diagnosed with Asperger’s and got special aid, should now be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Or for those that do not fall in ASD, there is a new one called social communication disorder which is a nonautistic disorder characterized by persistent difficulties in communication, social relationships, and social responsiveness.

  11. SuperDuperNathansMom   March 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

    The abilities of any child, whether they have Asperger’s or not, is only limited by the parents negative attitude. Your child has abilities that no other children have! Find his passion, find a way to build on it! Stop allowing your kids to live inside their comfort zones because YOU don’t want to have to deal with a melt down to teach him the new thing. If YOU as the parent can’t get out of your comfort zone and stop complaining about a disability, how is your child supposed to have the courage to venture outside his comfort zone?
    My son will be 14 soon, he was diagnosed when he was 3. He’s a leader, a public speaker, we’ve helped him cultivate social conscience and has started a non-profit for the homeless which his dad and I teaching him how to run. He’s a black belt in Karate because his photographic memory allows him to memories complex movements. It also cultivates focus and discipline. I’ve been pushing him outside his comfort zone all of his life. Any child is nothing without a parent who sees his vision whether he has a disability or not. Get out of your own way and you’ll get out of his!

  12. Miriam Stevens   March 4, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Where in a resume can one or would one put what medical conditions you have? No one is required to disclose that they have autism, and no one employer would require to be aspie on a job description. I know a person with autism can be obsessive about a subject and that subject they choose might be a profitable one or not and employers might see that you are really good at it. We can not generalize though.

    • Aaron J.   March 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Not only that, Miriam, but Asperger traits make it hard to get through an interview. Many employers are hiring by personality no matter what they say. Social abilities work preferences etc all stack against you in this case.

  13. Brent   March 4, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I’m tired of hearing about all the prodigies that are afflicted with Asperger’s. We know they exist, but the focus should be on the majority of Asperger’s kids who don’t have such easily marketable interests. My son, Kyle, for instance, is fiercely interested in certain video games, like Sonic the Hedgehog and others. How about some advice on how to turn an obsession like that into a positive? Most of us aren’t dealing with kids whose unique abilities are being artists, musicians, or computer geniuses. Most of us are trying to help a kid like mine and worrying constantly about how their child will fit into the adult world.

    • Aaron J.   March 4, 2014 at 9:50 am

      I am in the same boat, Brent. My son keeps becoming interested in very trivial things, memorizing details about The Simpsons and all of the voice actors for animated movies and shows. I am trying to get him to apply this ability to the stock market, chemistry, medicine or some other information-rich field.

    • Florence   April 2, 2014 at 9:47 am

      My family member had similar interests at a young age. We gave him a net book which he learned to operate on his own. For a while he only wanted to play games, watch videos and send odd emails. That ability did mature into other things with some guidance. He went from playing the same baseball game over and over into fascination with stats on players to collecting baseball cards. He learned how to do a spreadsheet on all his cards to help organize them. He is only eight but has now developed some great skills using Excel. He is developing marketable skills at an early age because some people thought outside the box . The key is EARLY. You can’t wait until they are teens. They need to be directed now. Using the special interests is a starting place.

  14. ictus75   March 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Were it so easy today to get a great job doing what you love…

    It also does a great disservice to us Aspies when people speculate as to who ‘may’ have Aspergers (like Bill Gates). Please stick to the facts and people who have been properly diagnosed.

    I also agree that some input from an Aspie would’ve been nice.

    • plumfanatic   March 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Well said ictus75. Input from Aspies would be great. My grandson is obsessed with gaining knowledge of anything and everything from Sonic to what is inside his body. He is 6 and I’ll bet he would have a few things to say on this subject. It’s a shame that he is being hindered in school because he is on a fourth grade level being taught as a kindergartner.

  15. Tina Fry   February 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Comments about the current societal need for parents to want to diagnose their children, is an extremely disturbing suggestion for me. As an Asperger and having worked supporting parents with Asperger children, this comment clearly is blind opinion making. One parent I met described her child’s diagnosis as a “death sentence”. Very few parents experience joy at an Asperger diagnosis. When they begin to reconcile themselves to the diagnosis, they experience a sense of relief, but they then also spend significant and ‘detrimental’ amounts of time becoming carers and advocates. Parents who don’t come to terms with the diagnosis and don’t find some place to gain positive comfort from understanding it, generally find themselves in very difficult circumstances with their Asperger child/ren.

  16. Andrew Jones   February 27, 2014 at 8:08 am

    I disagree with it being as celebrated and positive as the article makes out! I have it which feeds severe anxiety so I don’t really see it as good at all! There’s different spectrums within spectrums and gradients etc..

  17. JudgeRoy   February 26, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Great! So somebody can give me a job. The problem is people think we’re all good with technology; some of us are better at the arts. I do photography, drawing, and a heckofalotta writing, mainly screenplays. I’m still very much impaired by Asperger’s syndrome and other disorders but I really want to prove myself with the skill set that I have.

  18. Natalie J   February 25, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Ditto Tina and Hollie.

  19. Yorkshire Pudding (Karen)   February 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I would of preferred to have seen some input from people with the condition. I am 35 and I am ASD and we get sick of other people acting like experts, we are the experts of how we live!

  20. Tina Fry   February 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    My comment: It’s good to see a positive approach to Aspergers however,prodigies are individuals, I don’t see how this extrapolates out to the broader population of Aspergers – apparently this author hasn’t read Aspergers on the Job, Rudy Simone – up to 85% of Asperger adults are unemployed. I suspect also that many who are unemployed like me are employed in places where their qualifications might be useful but not critical to the job.

  21. Pam M Mason   February 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    We are not all children (I’m autistic and I’m 52). We are not all prodigies. We are not all superb employees with a wonderful eye for detail. You do us no favours with this cliched one-dimensional stuff. You should have got an autistic to write it. It would have been a great deal better.

    • Miriam Stevens   March 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

      You are right Pam M Mason, aspies can give more insight of what goes on in their mind and with some help also some insight of their feelings. It would be great if you find a platform where you could write a blog.

  22. myaspielife   February 24, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    About 1 in 50 U.S. children (2 percent) ages 6 to 17 have an autism spectrum disorder (source:, so I wouldn’t call that “nearly all children.” I do agree, there’s no doubt in some misdiagnosis, but there is also an improved ability for doctors to make the determination in milder cases. Technically, there is no such thing as Asperger’s, as it was removed from the DSM-V. Now it’s just autism spectrum. Being a parent of two autistic children (and on the spectrum myself) and knowing dozens of other parents, that while I also agree that in some cases “current societal need parents seem to have to feel special somehow,” I’ve never met an autism parent who does so. No doubt they exist, but I would say the exception, not the norm.

  23. Rebecca Savastio   February 24, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Very interesting story. besides the tech field aspect, I think there is also an aspect of the current societal need parents seem to have to feel special somehow, so nearly all children are now labeled as being “on the autism spectrum” even if what they are showing is simply a varied personality. As Asperger’s becomes perceived as being a “good” thing to have, the diagnoses will increase even more as parents wish to jump on the bandwagon. Over-diagnosis is becoming a major problem. It’s probably true that Asperger’s is desired in the tech field, because many techies have the poor social skills that come with this syndrome and are drawn to those similar to them. Really fascinating story. Good job.

  24. Hollie Blakeney   February 24, 2014 at 7:49 am

    It is Carl Sagan, not Carl Sagen.


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