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Programmers and aspergers


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#1 SymLinked   Members   -  Reputation: 887

Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:36 PM

Hi,

Someone at work claimed today that there's a study published that suggests a majority of software engineers have aspergers syndrome.
I can't find this by Googling and I don't think it sounds plausible to begin with. I know there's a higher percentage among software engineers than other fields, but a majority sounds like exaguration to me.

Or does such a study really exist?

Thanks!


Edited by SymLinked, 02 March 2013 - 01:37 PM.


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#2 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4761

Posted 02 March 2013 - 02:09 PM

What's up with the sudden rise of interest in aspengers?

 

From one year to the next it starts to creep into every gaming and programming related forum I see. There are a few with actual clinical diagnosis but a bunch of "I haz aspengers!" dudes who try to find a scapegoat for their shortcomings.

 

Autism is no joke but some people think it's something simple and reduce it to absurdity. Aka "I can't talk to somebody and I think I'm really smart so obviously I haz teh autizm." No, social awkwardness doesn't proves anything. Most of the humans think they're smarter than their peers (common cognitive bias). And mental disorder diagnosis is an awfully complex topic.

 

It diminishes the work of psychologists and it diminishes the people that actually have some sort of autism.

 

No, I don't think that the majority of software engineers have aspengers syndrome.


Edited by TheChubu, 02 March 2013 - 02:12 PM.

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#3 SymLinked   Members   -  Reputation: 887

Posted 02 March 2013 - 02:24 PM

It diminishes the work of psychologists and it diminishes the people that actually have some sort of autism.

 

Of course it does, but a study can't be based on self-diagnosed people - can it? That would make it kinda irrelevant.



#4 Robot Ninja   Members   -  Reputation: 569

Posted 02 March 2013 - 02:25 PM

I agree with TheChubu. This interest in asperger's is becoming the next "ADD". I think this is just a sign of the age we are in. Technology is more integral to our lives than ever before, and so lifestyles are changing because of it. Our brains change as a result of our lifestyle and the activities we choose or choose not to participate in.

 

As a loose example to explain what I'm trying to say, not too long ago we believed that there was a part of our brain that allowed us to recognize human faces. As it turns out, evidence today suggest that this is not the case, but that we are able to recognize human faces simply because we are always around other humans. Our brain adapts and allows us to recognize subtle facial details among different people. This explains how a person can have such an easy time differentiating between different people from their own race, and yet have such a difficult time telling people of another race apart. It also explains how a car enthusiast can easily differentiate between cars of different models/years, or the fact that we can see faces in cars. (Haha, I kind of went overboard with my example.) tongue.png

 

Anyways, I'm not saying I'm correct in this issue. I'm just proposing a theory based on my experience.


Edited by Robot Ninja, 02 March 2013 - 02:38 PM.


#5 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3416

Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:25 PM

Puh...leeeeze the entire issue of the majority of software engineers being affected by Asperger's won't be legitimised until it has become a murder defense in the American legal system!

 

 

 

 

Of course in saying that it probably has been ><



#6 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 9281

Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:39 PM

Well I will admit that while I don't have Aspergers, I do have an anxiety disorder, but claiming that "a majority" of software developers are autists is somewhat.. ah.. ludicrous.

 

Like all generalizations, really. If this study really happened, I doubt it was legit to begin with. Or they picked a sample size of five. Whichever.


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#7 Khatharr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3039

Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:41 PM

Robot Ninja, on 02 Mar 2013 - 12:33, said:
I agree with TheChubu. This interest in asperger's is becoming the next "ADD".


Bingo. In the 90s it was ADD, now it's autism. I met about 5 trillion people in school who had ADD and my conclusion was that ADD means, "Fuck you, I'mma do what I want."

Then I met one kid that had actually been diagnosed with ADD and my conclusion was, "No, you other guys don't have ADD. You're just assholes."

Same exact phenomenon now with Asperger syndrome:
  • People don't like me.
  • It's because I'm an asshole.
  • If I pretend to be handicapped then maybe they'll start liking me.
  • This way I don't have to stop being an asshole.
The people I've met that actually do have Asperger syndrome have not been assholes. They're just socially awkward and actually in my experience they've been quite likable and pretty easy to get along with. This isn't scientific evidence, of course, but it's enough experiential evidence that I'm confident in my ability to distinguish between people with the syndrome and people that just don't want to be accountable for what they do.

Edited by Khatharr, 02 March 2013 - 04:47 PM.

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#8 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22731

Posted 02 March 2013 - 07:46 PM

Many people who really do have Asperger's are extremely withdrawn.

The people who write up clinical diagnosis include the details of being withdrawn to a clinically-significant life-impairing way. That is certainly part of the definition.

Some people will consider being introverted (which is a NORMAL THING) as being withdrawn.

Being withdrawn is also a normal thing, and in fact many studies have shown that those who are the most creative in artistic and scientific fields are much more withdrawn than other segments of society.

... However, there are many people (usually extroverts) who are rarely withdrawn that interpret withdrawal as abnormal or unhealthy behavior. In fact, several mid-century psychologists in the 1900's attempted to get introversion diagnosed as a disorder until a little work realized that a major portion of the society fit the description. Of course, we also had scientists in the 1400's who believed female reproductive organs were "degenerate" forms of male organs, which explained their world view that women were inferior to men. So as always, interpret scientific results with skepticism.


Back to Asperger's, in doing a self-diagnosis people make many major errors. First they begin with not understanding what is normal, what is abnormal but still healthy, what is atypical and not unhealthy, and what is unhealthy or life-impairing. Then they will make the extension that a non-life-impairing normal behavior or even atypical behavior is the same as the clinically-significant, life-impairing problem.

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#9 Koobazaur   Members   -  Reputation: 691

Posted 03 March 2013 - 01:44 PM

Honestly I believe many self-diagnosed aspergers are people going through a social-awkwardness phase. Problem is, many never get out of it.

To destroy my credibility further with more anecdotal examples, when I was a freshman at college I was the guy who avoided parties to instead sit in his room and either do homework (straigh-A over-achevier) or code his geeky game projects. I was awkward as heck and the notion of even talking to a girl was doomed to failure before its conception. In a nutshell, I was the perfect candidate for the an "aspie."

But luckily, I somehow made friends. Friends with whom I interacted. Friends who introduced me to alcohol (hello college). Friends who took me out to parties. Friends who gave me advice on girls. And my campus was small (400 students) with a focus on community and supporting each other which further made thigns easier.

By my senior year, I've been one of the few main guys regularly hosting hangouts and parties, started dating, and had no problem meeting new people and being sociable... while still keepign up my As and coding my geeky projects.

My point is, it took work and sometimes pushes from others to help me develop my social skills and become, well, a "normal and functinal member of the society" (whatever that even means). But I can see how many people, particularily at big (20-30k+ student) campuses can miss out on this supportive social group and instead remain in their little asocial shell, eventually giving up and excusing it as aspergers.

Of course, I am not denouncing aspergers - it's a real disorder and I know a few people who have it. Yes, copious social interaction have helped them adjust, but there's still some awkwardness and you can tell it's more of a learned "acting" than natural social intuition. Those people are constantly thinking of how to act, really struggling on the inside, and can never fully overcome the disorder; but it's different from those who merely think they have aspergers because they never tried, or didn't have the right support group, to overcome it.

Edited by Koobazaur, 03 March 2013 - 01:48 PM.

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#10 game of thought   Members   -  Reputation: 213

Posted 03 March 2013 - 03:26 PM

As a person clinically diagnosed with AS, i really hate it when people classify themselves as AS just because they cannot accept they are assholes.

While people with AS can be assholes (i go out of my way to piss people off who pick on me regardless of social standing) i am not to the majority of the time, i try to be nice to most people.

If anything, i feel that AS is hardly an excuse for flaws, if anything it means you have an excuse for putting 10+ hours a day into getting a new version of your game out( this is an anecdote of course, as that is what i have been doing). If i am honest i think people with AS(at least myself) try harder than a lot of people not to be an asshole.

I also think this idea of having no friends is fallacy as well. While i may not go out to parties(i dont enjoy the atmosphere), i do often socialise with friends over things most would view as nerdy such as d&d. Although i can sense sometimes that what i have said is socially awkward, however sometimes it is the opposite.

Finally, i do not think that most software engineers have AS. To put this into perspective, roughly 1% of the general populaton have AS. While IT(and mathematics and science in general) probably have a higher proportion than other professions, i dont have evidence to support this.

#11 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14262

Posted 03 March 2013 - 04:52 PM

This whole subject just confuses me on so many levels.

 

#1: Why the hell would anyone diagnose him- or her- self with any disorder?  Do people really pretend to have a mental disorder just to have an excuse for being an asshole?  Seriously?  I don’t really know what it is like to be an asshole nor to have some kind of mental condition, but I would imagine I would be less embarrassed for just being an asshole.

(I know what you want to say about me not knowing what it is like to be an asshole.  The way I type online and the way I am in reality are exact opposites, as someone here can tell you.  I have had multiple dates tell me I could never be a villain in a TV show or movie because my face is too kind and I am too nice.  Last week I just got a role as a villain in a movie and since then multiple other people have said, “You as a villain?  No way.”  To see me in real life without a smile on my face is a very rare event.)

 

#2: Who the hell cares what the majority of programmers have, if anything?  New study reveals most women have higher levels of estrogen than men!

Men in class: “Ew don’t touch me estrogen-girl!”

I fail to see firstly how it is relevant to anything, but also how such a study could ever be considered a good thing.

How does it help our industry to tell people that being a programmer might be a sign of a mental disorder?

 

#3: In any case the study is flat-out wrong, making it that much more annoying.  In all the countries where I have worked I have never met a single person ever anywhere in-person who I would even remotely consider being Aspergers.  And I am living in Japan, where the chances for having Aspergers in the IT field is highest.  None.  Not in school, not ever anywhere in my life.

 

 

 

I don’t get all the fuss.  “10 flavors of confused,” describes me best.

 

 

L. Spiro


Edited by L. Spiro, 03 March 2013 - 04:54 PM.

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#12 phantom   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7564

Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:54 PM

This whole subject just confuses me on so many levels.
 
#1: Why the hell would anyone diagnose him- or her- self with any disorder?  Do people really pretend to have a mental disorder just to have an excuse for being an asshole?  Seriously?

Well, it's not just that, when people do things like this it's more often than not an 'excuse' for simply not doing things well in life. "Oh, I could be as good as that guy if not for <condition>."

Of course those are the ones who are generally loud about it; normally if you've got something wrong then yeah, as you say, you try to hide it away because you don't want to be tainted by it.

Personally I know I suffer from depression, show autism signs (a friend who works with autistic people pointed this out to me sometime back - I'd also noticed but never mentioned it) and also might suffer from depersonalisation disorder (I fit many of the symptoms, I started looking for a name for it when I realised some time back that if I look in a mirror I have zero connection to the face staring back.) however I don't shout about it... heck ever writing it here has been a challenge because I don't want this to be all 'look at me!'.
(Not that I've ever seen a doctor but the depression is pretty easy to spot, the autism was spotted by a 3rd party and if I have DPD or not doesn't really matter, its just another broken thing smile.png)

Does it affect my life? Of course, my brain is a crazy wreak and honestly at times I'm surprised I make it though the day.
BUT despite this I've never once used it as an excuse not to try and do things. If anything I try to push myself out of my comfort zone from time to time, if nothing else to see how my brain reacts.

Which is often the difference between people who think they have something and people who are really living with problems; the former make excuses, the latter want to push past them.

#13 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14262

Posted 03 March 2013 - 06:40 PM

You raise a point that I wanted to mention earlier.

 

Many people with some disorder or another change how they behave only because of the actual diagnosis.

I mentioned that I have never met anyone with Aspergers in real life but I had met one online last year and just now I read the topic “An aspie in need” (I had never viewed it because…what the hell is an “aspie”?  I know what an Aussie is…  Come on people, just use the actual term for the condition; not everyone lives every day thinking about that and knows all the 10 million slang words for it).

 

 

The guy I met online last year was asking on another forum how to get a visa in Japan.  He wanted to be a director.  I told him the frank facts that he has no chance at ever getting a visa as a director in Japan, period.  He asked me to speak more kindly to him because he has Aspergers.  (I told him to **** his **** in *** **** red **** until it **** the **** toxic gases everywhere (I bleeped out the names of chemicals so that my post can’t be used to make toxic gas bombs, teehee).)

 

Then I read this “An aspie in need” topic in the lounge only to find someone with Aspergers pleading for people to be kind to him because of his condition.  All I could think was, “Typical.”

 

That guy is a perfect example.  He thinks any negative treatment he gets is due to Aspergers.  If he had never been diagnosed he would likely actually be trying to solve his problems instead of submitting to Aspergers.

Like once you get diagnosed you have a free pass in life.  You give up and don’t try to overcome it.

Wouldn’t it be better to just not diagnose people?

Seriously, what purpose does it serve to anyone?

 

 

There is no medication for it, so how does it help the person being diagnosed?  This is one case where it is healthier not to know.

 

 

Good that you did not go that route phantom.

Certainly not every one does, but those who do are about the most annoying humans on Earth.  Hiding behind the disorder, blaming all of your problems on it, and using it to play on the sympathy of others is the very definition of “asshole”.

 

 

As for me, I have only one “condition”.

It has no name because there are so few people who have it/realize they have it and get it examined.

I am 50% to 70% less sensitive on my right side.  Exactly down the middle.  Pain, heat, and cold do not register.

It is not a mental condition because it is true for my face and tongue as well.

It does not apply to my internal organs because I feel pain in my intestines equally on both sides.

It might be related to the skin itself, but not only the skin since I also gain fat and muscle more on right side.

The only other person I know with this condition has it on the opposite side and she describes the same issues related to fat and muscle as well.

 

 

There you have it.  I am a total freak of nature.  Please be kind to me now that you know my disability.  All of my problems are because I can’t feel my right side.  Everyone judges me for it.  On the train I hear people saying, “Ugh what is wrong with that person?  Looks like one of those people who can’t feel one side of his or her body.”

 

 

L. Spiro


It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
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#14 Capt. Economy   Members   -  Reputation: 102

Posted 03 March 2013 - 06:52 PM

There are a few with actual clinical diagnosis but a bunch of "I have aspergers!" dudes who try to find a scapegoat for their shortcomings.

 

 

 I'm going to love this forum because I do have Asperger's Syndrome and the attacks will become more and frequent as time goes on. Those that want to blame "Aspies" with the problems of programming are just jealous that their brain isn't wired like our's is.  Most of us who are aspies are also classified with a Briggs Myers personality of a *NT* which allows us to not only think like a computer, but allows us to teach the computer new ideas and ways of crunching data. The cool thing about being am aspie is that your father had it, and his father had it, and your father's father's father had it, so we are not only alone but we have heritage or a legacy if you will, of being special.

 

My Father introduced computers to American Airlines back in the 50's and then to Eastern Airlines in the 60's. Those without aspies were not able to foresee the future of finance and thus ran their companies into the ground. That non-aspie that flew his airplane into the World Trade Center's towers didn't help either.  

 

At age 10 I was already loading data into a large mainframe computer for my Father. And that was in 1969. Built my 1st computer (Timex ZX-81) at age 14 and wrote my 1st flight simulator code, using basic, a few months later. So those out there that can't do what we can do naturally, and with little effort, because we are wired differently... don't feel bad! We know we are smarter than you, and we won't hold that against you. Somebody has to run the companies we create with the code we write.

 

The late Steve Jobs was great at code and ideas, but not so good with running a business. Can't we all just get along? Afterall, we have to put up with those that voted for the President and allowed for Obamacare to become law. But if you would like to contribute to the cause, I would like for somebody to design and build me my Jetson's folding up spaceship. We can write you the code for the onboard computer!!!


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#15 IADaveMark   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2531

Posted 04 March 2013 - 12:06 AM

Ignoring the significant load of crap that has transpired in the messages above this reply...

 

Make sure you are thinking of this from the right direction. Obviously, programming doesn't cause Asperger's. However, people with Asperger's are drawn to programming. There are really two reasons for this -- or one reason on opposite sides of a spectrum.

 

First, Asperger's people are often drawn to system and routine. This is both in their personal life (rigid schedules, things just so, etc.) but also in the world. They are often fascinated and drawn to systems.

 

Second,  they are confused by social interaction. Simply knowing that there are "rules" for interacting with people -- which often require reading other people's behavior, meaning, intent, reactions, etc. -- is baffling, confusing, or even terrifying to someone with Asperger's. However, computers, and other technical or non-personal things (art, music, etc.) do not have those minefields of social interaction. Therefore, someone with Asperger's may find themselves spending time with those pursuits because they are safe.

 

So now we have "drawn to because they are interesting" plus "drawn to because they are NOT PEOPLE" and we have an interesting safe haven for Asperger's people that they often excel at.

 

End of story.

 

I now return you to your regularly scheduled, misinformed, off-topic, bitching about people in general...


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#16 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31822

Posted 04 March 2013 - 02:21 AM

There is a strange modern-day cognitive bias that manifests in speech as:
Find: "In my opinion"
Replace: "I heard a study that says"


#17 SymLinked   Members   -  Reputation: 887

Posted 04 March 2013 - 07:00 AM

I obviously realize that programmers don't get Aspegers. I assumed people with Aspegers had an easier time getting into programming and that it could explain why many have it. I know you didn't address me directly, but I wanted to clarify that just incase. sleep.png

 

Anyway. I assume this study doesn't really exist since no one seems to know about it. The background for my question was that my fiancee said I did fit most of the symptoms, and she said her professor told her of the study and I was curious to hear more about it. I also took a look at the symptoms and found that I do not fit even 25% of them, but whatever. It doesn't matter to me really. Just curious. smile.png



#18 ranakor   Members   -  Reputation: 439

Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:27 AM

I obviously realize that programmers don't get Aspegers. I assumed people with Aspegers had an easier time getting into programming and that it could explain why many have it. I know you didn't address me directly, but I wanted to clarify that just incase. sleep.png

 

Anyway. I assume this study doesn't really exist since no one seems to know about it. The background for my question was that my fiancee said I did fit most of the symptoms, and she said her professor told her of the study and I was curious to hear more about it. I also took a look at the symptoms and found that I do not fit even 25% of them, but whatever. It doesn't matter to me really. Just curious. smile.png

Tell your fiancee that she probably lacks the 6 years of study and 10 years of experience required to decide if you fit the symptoms, that's why we have doctors and specialists



#19 SymLinked   Members   -  Reputation: 887

Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:14 AM

I was mainly interested in any study on the matter, Ranakor. But thanks for your suggestion. wink.png



#20 IADaveMark   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2531

Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:03 PM

Tell your fiancee that she probably lacks the 6 years of study and 10 years of experience required to decide if you fit the symptoms, that's why we have doctors and specialists

 

While I agree with you in principle, you don't need a medical degree to diagnose a broken leg if the bone is sticking out.


Edited by IADaveMark, 05 March 2013 - 01:03 PM.

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Professional consultant on game AI, mathematical modeling, simulation modeling
Co-advisor of the GDC AI Summit
Co-founder of the AI Game Programmers Guild
Author of the book, Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI

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IA News - What's happening at IA | IA on AI - AI news and notes | Post-Play'em - Observations on AI of games I play

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