"Autism is a spectrum where on one end, you have half of Silicon Valley and the other end is someone who is non-verbal." - Temple Grandin
Last night, my mom tipped me off to a talk by Temple Grandin being aired by KUOW in Seattle. I found video of the talk here, and really enjoyed watching her and seeing her slides. If anyone could be described as having true grit, it's Temple.
Ms. Grandin spoke not only about the autistic brain, but about how different brains are necessary in programming. She described Steve Jobs as an artist who created the UI, but needed engineers to make the inside of the devices work. "You need both kinds of minds."
The software world talks a lot about diversity, and besides sex, race and cultural background, in my opinion equally important is having diversity of brains/thinking.
Recently I've heard a few stories about apps freeing non-verbal people to communicate for the first time. One story, about a young lady who now is a writer, was particularly touching. I choked up when her parents talked about how they'd spoken in front of their daughter for her entire life assuming she didn't understand a word they were saying. When she started using an iPad to communicate, she had almost perfect English, stunning her parents. She'd somehow learned a language without having ever communicated back to anyone, or even being taught. What would it be like to have that experience? Did she feel trapped in her own body? I can't even imagine.
Another quote from Temple that I really loved: "Less than 2% of your DNA actually codes for making a person. So what does all the other DNA do? Well a big part of that is going to be the operating system. It tells coding DNA what to do."
I hope you'll make time to watch her speak, it's riveting!