Autistic Kids Go For Science and Math

Kids with autism picked science technology and math majors at college

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It is a common belief that kids with autism are more gifted in the arts and math.  A recent study looked at what college majors kids with autism were choosing to study.

They found that, compared to other types of disabilities, kids with autism were more likely to choose science, technology, engineering and math majors. 

However, fewer kids with autism were even attending college.

"Talk with your child about their academic interests."

Researchers, led by Xin Wei, PhD, at the Center for Education and Human Services at SRI International, a non-profit research facility, used data from a large survey of 11,000 teens in special education programs around the country.

They compared 660 kids with autism to kids with other disabilities, like hearing or vision problems, learning disability, and traumatic brain injury.

They found that 34 percent of kids with autism were more likely to choose science, technology, math or engineering majors in college.  Only 20 percent of kids with other disabilities chose these types of majors.

The gender gap was also bigger for kids with autism. In general, more boys than girls choose science, technology, and math majors. For kids with autism, the gap between boys and girls was bigger.

Only 3 percent of girls with autism chose these types of majors. At the national level, 15 percent of girls choose these types of majors.

The researchers also found that only 32 percent of kids with autism even enroll in college. This was less than all the other disabilities they looked at.

This study was published November 1 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, Autism Speaks, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Institute of Education Sciences.

Conflict of interest information was not provided.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 20, 2012
Last Updated:
March 28, 2013