Link between autism and clever parents being investigated

Are parents who are high achievers in subjects like maths and science more likely to have autistic children? Researchers at Cambridge University investigate.


Adults who work in maths or science based subjects could be more likely to have autistic children, a team of researchers at Cambridge University is testing. The theory being tested suggests that those parents whose jobs are more systematic have an increased chance of having a child who displays autistic traits.


Whether one parent or both are strong systemisers is believed to make a difference. Mathematicians were found to have higher rates of autism than other professionals in a 2001 study.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen notes that those who have jobs that are highly systematic are likely to portray traits of an extreme male brain, with increased levels of testosterone. He’s confident that there are enough signs to support the theory that children with two systemising parents are more likely to be in the autistic spectrum.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduates who have a child of 18 months or above are being asked to take part in the study, which will monitor their progress for a year.


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