As sort of a follow-up from the last post, I thought this article about finding jobs suitable for people with autism/asperger's (and the correspondingly more productive societal role) had some interesting implications for the usefulness of sociopaths in any given culture. A man talks about how he founded a company that specializes in finding specialties for auties, prompted by his own autistic son:
“If others could appreciate his skills and respect his special personality in a meaningful and productive job, then we could go to the grave with a good conscience.”Most parents of children with autism or asperger's do not like the lack of empathy comparisons between their children and sociopaths. I wonder if Sonne is really so willing to stand by his statement that everyone has resources that society can benefit from, including sociopaths. Maybe there should be a similar employment placement service for sociopaths...
The idea for Specialisterne came to Sonne after he got involved with an autism support organization and met scores of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (A.S.D.). There are large variations within this spectrum: it includes people who are significantly challenged as well as some who, on the surface, seem perfectly average and are often very intelligent. People with A.S.D. have problems imagining other people’s feelings and grasping social contexts; they struggle or may be unable to read social cues like facial expressions or sarcasm. They usually have narrowly defined interests, engage in repetitive behaviors, and are resistant to changes in routine. And they are highly sensitive to stress and vulnerable to depression.
“I think that everyone has resources that society can benefit from under the right circumstances,” explains Sonne. However, among those with high-functioning autism, he notes, it is easier to make this case. Sonne saw that Lars, at age 7, had an unusual aptitude for copying details from books by memory. Having spent years working in the field of information technology, he knew that the strengths that often come with A.S.D. — such as a talent for intense focus and concentration, an ability to recognize patterns, spot minute deviances and recall details, and a perseverance for repetitive tasks — could be advantages in jobs where consistency and accuracy are paramount. Software testing and data conversion and management were obvious examples.
Sonne calls it the “dandelion philosophy.” Depending on your point of view, a dandelion is either a valuable herb — a source of iron and vitamin A, with many medicinal qualities — or a weed that invades your garden. “A weed is a beautiful plant in an unwanted place,” he says. “An herb is the same plant where it is wanted. Who decides if something is a weed or an herb? Society does.”