What does all this have to do with autism? According to what I have called the 'extreme male brain' theory of autism, people with autism simply match an extreme of the male profile, with a particularly intense drive to systemize and an unusually low drive to empathize. When adults with Asperger's syndrome (a subgroup on the autistic spectrum) took the same questionnaires we gave to non-autistic adults, they exhibited extreme Type S brains. Psychological tests reveal a similar pattern.
And this analysis makes sense. It helps explain the social disability in autism, because empathy difficulties make it harder to make and maintain relationships with others. It also explains the 'islets of ability' that people with autism display in subjects like math or music or drawing - all skills that benefit from systemizing.
That's exactly what I suspected all along: people who are good at math really are antisocial. So now what women really have to do is marry some guy who can't calculate a tip or else they are in danger of having their kid have a horrible disease.
I don't know if I buy it. Attempts to explain psychiatric illnesses using what I will call "gender gradient" hypotheses — where stereotypically female traits are put on one end and stereotypically male traits are put on the other and deviating from the average is called a disease — have not had the best track record. Hormone studies and the relationship of an extra Y chromosome to violence have had similar poor outcomes. I would also say that schizophrenogenic mothering would fall into this category.
On the other hand there is evidence of a sort of opposite to autism in behavior called Williams syndrome. Children with Williams syndrome are hypersocial but show poor math abilities and limited ability to form spatial relations. Presumably under this hypothesis Williams syndrome would be a disease of "extreme female brain".
The problem with these hypotheses is that they tend to confuse social traits — and sometimes very complex ones — with genetic traits. It is like trying to construct a little inheritance tree for whether someone in the family likes macaroni and cheese or not. The behavior may be genetically inherited but it unlikely to be single gene inheritance and will definitely show environmental effects.