Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Mar 2006

Teaming Up Against Autism

This has absolutely nothing to do with football, but it's an important story. And the author's name rings a bell.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 31 Mar 2006

9 comments, Last at 02 Apr 2006, 11:38am by Dan Babbitt


by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 03/31/2006 - 1:24pm

Nicely done, Russ. And kudos to Olaf Kolzig.

My favorite TV show, The Shield, deals with autism in a way that strikes me as very honest and realistic. (Yes, it's a show about a corrupt cop, but he has a son with autism and the scenes that include his family have a very different tone than the scenes with him on the street.)

by C (not verified) :: Fri, 03/31/2006 - 5:29pm

Great article. I have a son on the spectrum, and can relate to what Russ and all of the players in the article are going through. It's an epidemic and soon everyone will have an autistic child or know/be related to one. One in 166. Think about it.

by Josh (a.k.a. Lezard Valeth) (not verified) :: Fri, 03/31/2006 - 8:00pm

Attitudes like this deeply anger me...

I am a high-functioning autistic man. Have known this since I was 3 or so, just turned 21 not too long ago.

And I would not have it any other way.

Autism is not an

by Josh (a.k.a. Lezard Valeth) (not verified) :: Fri, 03/31/2006 - 8:03pm

Ack, forgot about the quotes. Continued:

Autism is not an 'epidemic', not a 'nightmare.' It is a difference, in how one acts and how one views the world. We can be just as productive and happy as anyone else, if we find the right things to do and have strong support systems.

And I personally hope there will continue to be more of us in the future. Let me explain...

For a while now, I have been trying to figure out what element of humanity causes the most suffering. I thought it was government, then religion, then big business, etc... Finally, after studying human history, I have come to the conclusion that the answer to that question is greed. Most often, people harm others because they WANT something from them.

And I looked at myself, other autistics I know, and notable autistics throughout history...now, I am convinced that we lack the innate greed that other humans have.

Essentially, if you study history and the people around you, it seems most likely that greed is a part of human nature. People like Noam Chomsky think this isn't the case and you can teach people to have no greed or selfishness at all...frankly, I think that is completely wrong. You can teach people to inhibit those qualities, but you can't remove them.

But it also seems likely that autistic people do not possess these qualities to nearly the degree that others do. If you'll look at those among us who have achieved notable successes, practically none were or are in competitive fields like business or sports or politics; almost all of them made their mark in the arts and sciences. The only possible exceptions to this rule that I can think of are Bill Gates and Thomas Jefferson, and people have only suggested they may be autistic; there is no conclusive proof.

Thus, I think that we could be an important antidote to the

by Josh (a.k.a. Lezard Valeth) (not verified) :: Fri, 03/31/2006 - 8:06pm

Oh snap, left ANOTHER quote in there. Now for the last part...

Thus, I think that we could be an important antidote to the 'greed is good' ideas of Republicans and libertarians that are increasingly taking hold of my generation. But we must make ourselves known and be willing to speak out, which is starting to happen more and more on the internet at least. Hopefully we will start to make an impact in the outside world as well.

There is a lot more I could write about autism in general, but this is enough for now. I just wanted to let you know that there are plenty of us who don't want to be 'cured.' I have enjoyed the intelligent discussion on this site for a while now, and hope we can have one about this.


by Theo (not verified) :: Sat, 04/01/2006 - 1:04am

To get non-philosophical: we're here to S & R: Survive and Reproduce.
That's what our 10.000 year old brains are trained to.
and to have sex at the right time...

by Josh (a.k.a. Lezard Valeth) (not verified) :: Sat, 04/01/2006 - 4:00am

Autistic people survive & reproduce too. =) We just tend to have a bit different natural instincts, that's all.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been so harsh earlier on. I understand that good can come of greed...for you sports people, think of Jose Canseco basically starting the whole steroid discussion in baseball. At the time he did it just because he needed some quick cash, and it ended up bringing the problem out in the open and leading to new attempts to fix it.

What I was trying to say is that when the populace as a whole accepts accepts social Darwinism and believes that money represents your goodness as a human being, the result tends to be human-rights violations and massive suffering for the have-nots. Think of America in the late 19th century...

And I see things headed in that direction now. Although the Republicans are too polite to directly say it, the logical conclusion from many of their arguments is that the rich are rich because they're better people, and vice versa for the poor.

And, in particular, intelligent people around my age are buying into this ideology. I know many who have become libertarians, or even anarcho-capitalists. Maybe I'm off here, but these ideas seem to completely justify a selfish life devoted to money and little else.

And I know virtually no autistics who think like this. As such, if we can overcome our natural shyness, I believe we can be voices for compassion and spirituality.

What I am trying to say, in a nutshell, is that we are not defective humans who need to be fixed. We can be happy, contribute to society, and use our unique perspective to help others.


by Josh (a.k.a. Lezard Valeth) (not verified) :: Sat, 04/01/2006 - 4:04am

Gah, put two 'accepts' in a row up there. Me are smart.

by Dan Babbitt (not verified) :: Sun, 04/02/2006 - 11:38am

I linked to RFK's article for Rolling Stone Magazine on the possible connection between mercury based vaccines and autism in children.

Russell, I also curious if this is an angle that you've explored at all? Did Olaf mention it?