A good friend of mine has a child with Asperger's, and your column was an excellent and uplifting presentation about this diagnosis. As an MIT graduate, though, I smiled at your generalized diagnosis that "much of the faculty has Asperger's." I'd like to know if there are actually any studies confirming that. Thank you for all of the good columns you write. Your common sense approach to such a wide variety of issues is refreshing.
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Your e-mail is right on target, and thanks.
As a behavioral scientist, I should know better. Indeed, there are no formal studies characterizing the faculty at MIT. At least, I know of none. Therefore, you make a valid point.
In my defense, however, let me tell you some of my experiences. These may be typical of many colleges and universities, but, I suspect, are at least anecdotally more related to a place such as MIT. Some years ago, I had occasion to know some professors at MIT. I do not even recall their names. It was also my privilege to know several students. As a group, the students and professors had behavioral characteristics typical of what we now refer to as Asperger's syndrome.
There are some members of an Asperger's group where I have been present. They are indeed MIT professors. However, that being said, the unusual mind is a thing to celebrate, not castigate or characterize unfairly. My point in the original article was to describe the syndrome and illustrate that it is not a negative bit of name calling.
Generalizations in the behavioral sciences should be a "no-no." So I herewith repent. I should have said that I have known MIT students and faculty who have Asperger's syndrome. Then I might have added how delightful they are!
Even a good statistical study might not be sufficient "proof" of anything, except to say we could reject the null hypothesis at some level or other.
As my daughter used to say when in the throes of adolescent rebellion, "Whatever."
Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question or respond to one, e-mail him at llrryllrsn@CS.com.