Albert Einstein has been routinely diagnosed as autistic by a variety of individuals, Temple Grandin being the most prominent of these. Einstein allegedly could not speak at the age of three. He also dressed in very casual clothes, wore slippers and had unkempt hair and these are largely the basis of these assertions.
As I stated in my essay on that topic, there is evidence that Einstein’s speech delay may have been apocryphal. Denis Brian in his book, Einstein A Life stated Einstein’s sister told a story that when she was born and 2-year-old Einstein was shown his sister he said, "where are the wheels" when he believed she was a toy.
One of the arguments that is routinely made by individuals in the neurodiversity movement is that because Einstein was autistic and his intelligence is considered an autistic gift is this is one reason autism should not be cured. Temple Grandin has implied that Einstein’s genius is a result of autism or at least autistic traits.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no scientific evidence supporting these assertions.
As many people know, pathologist Thomas Harvey stole Einstein’s brain after performing an autopsy on the deceased physicist. He kept many pieces for himself and gave others to a variety of neurologic researchers who found differences in Einstein’s brain as compared to typical age-matched controls. One of the most interesting discoveries that while Einstein’s brain may have had a normal number of neurons, he had far more glial cells than than a typical brain. This evidence suggests that it was glial cells rather than neurons that were a factor in contributing to Einstein’s aptitudes and intellect. At one time glial cells were believed just to hold neurons together and provide maintenance support for them. Now, there is increasing evidence that glial cells provide more than just support for neurons and may be a more important part of the central nervous system than was originally thought. However, this is another topic.
Is there scientific evidence that parts of Einstein’s brain were qualitatively different than postmortem brains of those diagnosed with autism? a recent study suggests that this may be the case. The researchers found that Einstein’s corpus callosum had more extensive connections than comparison control brains. Unfortunately, this study has recently been published and is behind a $35.00 pay wall and I have not been able to read it yet. There are various ways I might be able to read the study without paying, but I have not exercised these options yet.
In comparison, a variety of studies on the corpus callosum of post-mortem autistic brains shows exactly the opposite, i.e. autistic corpus callosums have weak connections between the left and right hemispheres and, in some cases, autistics have a smaller corpus callosum or none at all. There have been apparently some studies showing that individuals missing a corpus callosum demonstrate symptoms of autism.
It would appear that Einstein’s brain, at least in this area, may be qualitatively different than in individuals with autism. Perhaps people can stop trivializing this disability by claiming that Einstein had it or had traits of it.