Scientists need to stop referring to the traits of autism as "deficits,"
argues a prominent autism researcher.
"Recent data and my own personal experience suggest it's time to start thinking of autism as an advantage in some spheres, not a cross to bear," Dr. Laurent Mottron, professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal wrote in the journal Nature.
The way autistics' brains are organized can be a strength, Dr. Mottron notes. And they can be contributing members of society in the right environment -- despite statistics that show one out of 10 cannot speak, nine out of 10 have no regular job and four out of five remain dependent on their parents.
However, people with autism often have exceptional memories, can outperform others in auditory and visual tasks, and do well on nonverbal intelligence tests.
Rajesh Kana, a University of Alabama psychology professor agrees that researchers shouldn't focus only on deficits, but he believes autism should still be thought of as a disorder.
Many with the condition have trouble with basic tasks necessary for being functional in daily life, Kana said, such as the ability to understand when someone is lying, which allows them to easily fall victim to deception.