Our Changing World for Thursday 9 July 2009
Living with Asperger Syndrome
What do Einstein, Beethoven, Andy Warhol, Bill Gates, Bob Dylan, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Van Gogh, Mozart and Thomas Jefferson have in common? They all have, or had, Asperger syndrome. Asperger syndrome is one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, which are a range of life-long developmental disabilities affecting social and communication skills. Asperger syndrome is a form of autism at the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum, and includes many highly intelligent talented individuals in its ranks.
Australian filmmaker Stephen Ramsey read an article in Wired magazine about Asperger syndrome. He filled out the accompanying check list, which seemed to aptly fit him, and then went round the world in search of others who live their lives with Asperger syndrome. The film, Oops, Wrong Planet, is the result, and this week's Our Changing World is the soundtrack from the film.
Among the people Stephen Ramsey meets in the film are Temple Grandin, a woman with an extraordinary understanding of animals who has a doctorate in animal science, is a best-selling author, and is a consultant to the livestock industry in the United States; researcher Allan Snyder, who holds the Chair in Science and the Mind at Sydney University; Simon Baron-Cohen who is Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University; and James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix, and father of a child with Asperger syndrome.