The enterprise magnate and new proprietor of Twitter Elon Musk revealed some time in the past that he’s autistic. Musk, the wealthiest particular person on the planet, is autistic. Musk, a fellow of the distinguished Royal Society and Time’s 2021 Individual of the Yr, is autistic. Probably the most well-known individuals on Earth is autistic. Maybe it’s price letting that sink in?
As autism researchers, we predict you will need to elevate consciousness of and enhance attitudes in the direction of autism. There’s now a rising appreciation of “neurodiversity” in society, particularly within the science and know-how sector. There has additionally been dialogue of how individuals, equivalent to environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, might be nice activists resulting from their autistic traits (though there is no such thing as a statistical hyperlink between autism and environmentalism).
It’s shocking, then, that there was so little dialogue of Musk’s autism. Not solely would this be helpful for understanding Musk, who’s now an influential however more and more criticized determine, nevertheless it may also go an extended solution to highlighting autism-related strengths and difficulties.
It is very important keep in mind that he’s neither consultant of the autistic inhabitants nor the final one. However, if we imagine that particular person experiences matter, Musk’s story is an opportunity to study him, autism and neurodiversity. Given his defining place in society, it’s price attempting to know Musk slightly than leaving public discourse to bitter additional.
Musk has shared tales of his social struggles as a toddler. He experiences being bullied and “nearly overwhelmed to loss of life” for being totally different. In a documentary, Musk’s mom talks about him as a “younger genius”, but additionally a shy and awkward little one with out pals. Collectively, Musk has what psychologists name a “developmental historical past” of autistic traits and opposed experiences of not being accepted in childhood.
Abuse directed at Musk for being autistic has continued into maturity, with a Twitter govt referring to him as “actually particular wants” and “a looney tune”. Only some individuals known as this out. That is sadly reflective of the bullying that autistic individuals face within the office and extra typically.
Such hostility is believed to partially clarify why autistic individuals face the best charges of unemployment of all disabled teams. Musk is in a way more highly effective place to defend himself than most others. However it’s attainable that the bullying he is skilled all through his life speaks to why he might be defensive and combative on Twitter.
It’s also price remembering that, though Musk seems emotionally sturdy, there’s typically extra happening beneath the floor for autistic and neurodivergent individuals. Our analysis exhibits that autistic individuals use psychologically exhausting coping methods, equivalent to “masking” or hiding their genuine self, which might worsen psychological well being. This is the reason autism is taken into account an “invisible incapacity”.
Autism can be typically linked to a literal mind-set. This was epitomized by Musk bodily carrying a toilet sink into Twitter HQ, which he has not too long ago taken possession of, as a play on the frequent phrase “let that sink in”.
It was, after all, a publicity stunt, however he may also have been making a comical level from the truth that many idioms do not actually make sense. The non-literal use of phrases like this does not essentially come naturally to autistic individuals.
Whereas some individuals perceive and recognize this unconventional model of humor, many are prone to assume it’s unusual or inappropriate. This has most likely contributed to the polarized opinions about Musk, which could partly replicate variations in humor between autistic and non-autistic individuals, as revealed by analysis.
Showing on the US hit present Saturday Night time Stay, Musk himself commented on how his autistic communication model might be uncommon and humorous: “I do not all the time have quite a lot of intonation or variation in how I converse … which I am instructed makes for nice comedy.”
An uncommon approach of talking has certainly been linked to autism in analysis. For instance, autistic individuals could have totally different acoustic options of their speech, equivalent to pitch, which might make them seem blunt or impolite. That’s how Musk is likely to be coming throughout in public conditions, following his acquisition of social media large Twitter.
Musk’s achievements are additionally prone to replicate autistic strengths in science and tech which might be price celebrating. In an interview final 12 months, he talked about how he “discovered it rewarding to spend all night time programming computer systems … simply on my own”.
This dedication to particular pursuits, as a substitute of socially typical actions equivalent to taking part in with pals as youngsters, would possibly clarify why some autistic individuals have extraordinary skills and may typically outperform non-autistic individuals on sure duties. Analysis on that is sparse however rising.
One of many world’s most well-known individuals being autistic will invariably elevate consciousness of autism. That is what researchers, charities and the autism group have been attempting to do for many years. If remembering that Musk is autistic can advance this endeavor, it might be worthwhile.
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Elon Musk: How being autistic could make him assume otherwise (2022, November 15)
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