It’s long been thought that people with autism permeate the science and technology fields. Now, new research suggests that there may be some truth to the theory.
In a study of young adults with autism, researchers found that among those with the disorder who attend college, they disproportionately chose majors in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
The findings come from a study published this month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders looking at the experiences of 660 young adults with autism who participated in the federal government’s National Longitudinal Transition Study-2.
While college participation among individuals with autism remains low, researchers found that about 34 percent of those with the disorder who attend two or four-year colleges selected a major in science, technology, engineering or math. That compared with nearly 23 percent of students in the general population.
The trend, however, was strongest among men with autism who were 13 times more likely to major in a science-related field than women with the disorder, the study found.
“In an era where a world-class science and engineering workforce is needed to remain competitive in a technologically advancing global economy, it becomes imperative to discover previously untapped sources of STEM talent. This study confirms that individuals with an ASD may indeed have the potential to become such a resource,” wrote researchers from Washington University and SRI International in the report.