A couple of Sundays back — a mere month after a made-for-HBO film chronicled the life story of a noted autistic animal behaviorist (played with unglammy aplomb by Claire Danes) — CBS’ “60 Minutes” profiled in succession, a hedge fund analyst with Asperger’s Syndrome (and the subject of Michael Lewis’ new tome, “The Big Short” ) and an autistic piano savant. “Might this signal the mainstreaming of the autistic?” I wondered out to no one in particular while riding public transportation a few days ago. “How long until a prominent politician or sportsman holds a press conference introducing his or herself as ‘an Autistic American’?”
My fellow bus riders had nothing to say on the subject, strangely enough, but that was before NBC Chicago covered the story of Alex Herman, an autistic teen who might the only person alive with a perfect bracket through the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Perhaps these are all isolated incidents, but as someone old enough to remember a time before women were allowed to vote (and before Jews could dine at Wendy’s), I am quite hopeful we’re on the dawn of a new era of understanding for our autistic brothers and sisters. And if there are any autistic CSTB readers (or contributors) who’d like to help me with my taxes, that would be awesome.