Matt's Blog

A Most Stupendous & Audacious Undertaking

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Does programming cause Aspergers? :-)
After graduating from college with a computer science degree, I’ve spent most of my subsequent years not programming. However, I’ve been spending most of the day for the last couple of months programming. I am noticing that it’s starting to change how I think and interact socially at times. If I just spend a couple of hours programming, I don’t notice an effect, but on days where I program for several hours in a row, my mind starts to convert to a programming-centric state, and it takes some time afterwards to snap out of it. My conversation skills become more stilted, and I become more nit-picky about details. Programming metaphors start popping into my head to describe real-world phenomena. Sometimes the metaphors are appropriate, but these metaphors all tend to be reductionist, and that must alter my view of the world to some degree.

While people who have the symptoms of Aspergers are often drawn to programming, I think the process runs in reverse as well. In addition to the fact that time spent programming is time spent not gaining social skills, programming requires the adoption of a mindset that increases Asperger-like thinking, and the mind is quick to rewire to function optimally in a new environment.

I do wonder whether pair programming techniques mitigate this effect to some degree.

  • 1
This sounds very similar to the effect that doing philosophy or math seem to have on people as well - getting very nit-picky about certain types of things, and trying to use metaphors from the discipline to explain things that they have no right to be able to explain.

Of course, there's going to be lots of things involved in coding that aren't involved in math or philosophy - mainly, working through lots of nitty-gritty details to make sure they all work out, even once you've already done ten other cases that work basically the same.

  • 1

Log in