Sean Southland, a performance researcher and entrepreneur, has long had an interest in helping children and adults improve their physical and mental well-being. He co-founded the IDEA Foundation as a means of helping young people with autism and other neurological conditions to make positive changes in their lives. The IDEA team continues to base its work on investigative foundations that Sean Southland originally established.
Recent research has challenged the traditional view that children with autism are developmentally disabled and unable to function fully in society. While children with autism tend to score poorly on standard intelligence tests based on verbal fluency, they often do well or even excel on tests geared toward pattern recognition and visual reasoning. Thus, many researchers advance the theory that autism, at least for those at the higher end of the spectrum, is associated with a special type of intelligence.
Physicians and family members have noted that some young people with autism display a keen ability to detect numerical and spatial anomalies, giving them insights into projects that people without autism may lack.
And, say some neuroscientists, tests have demonstrated a high level of correlation between intelligence and the risk factors for autism. These researchers say that autism may confer a fine-grained intelligence in certain specific areas, rather than the all-around type of intelligence that is more common and easily identified.