From Messi to SAP: the world discovers the potential of autism

by Ivano Abbadessa - 2013.10.15
From Messi to SAP: the world discovers the potential of autism
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The captain of Argentina's national football team and Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi, is autistic. More precisely, he has Asperger's syndrome, exactly like the great Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein. The news was broken in recent weeks by former Brazilian footballer Romàrio on his Twitter account, before it spread quickly across the globe. News of his condition could go some way to explaining Messi's exceptional talent.

The revelation from Romàrio, together with other news and debate in recent months, therefore begs the question: have we finally discovered that people on the autistic spectrum are more talented?

Only a few months ago, the German multinational company SAP, a leader in the field of computer science, announced its intention to employ more people with autism. It said this is because of this group's specific ability to concentrate and to identify problems and errors. Its aim is to find workers who 'think differently'. It's a decision that, if forecasts are correct, will mean that by 2020, 1% of the current 65,000 SAP employees will be autistic.

These numbers add to those released recently in Spain by the project Juntos Somos Capaces. The initiative has, to date, enabled hundreds of individuals with mental disabilities to find work with equal opportunities. The project was able to demonstrate that companies benefit from taking on people with intellectually disabilities, both socially and economically.

Now the announcement that Lionel Messi is a footballing genius because of a mild form of autism seems to confirm the idea behind our question. This is backed by Roberto Amado, the Brazilian journalist who was first to speak about Messi's condition.

West interviewed Amado, who said that the purpose of his article “was to reveal this unknown feature of Messi and show that autism is not a cause of social exclusion, that autistic people can be very productive”. Because the revelation caused waves around the world, Amado wanted to contribute to the cause of fighting social prejudice, which, in his opinion, continue to be widespread, even in football.

Published in Autism.
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