(tape rewinding) (rhythmic instrumental music) - [Voiceover] I read about someone who tested a piece of equipment in their head for many days to see if it was working.
Do you do that?
- [Voiceover] I think that was Tesla, and it was spinning a dynamo, dynamo for the electric power plant, and then he could tell whether it was gonna be off balance and not work.
And Tesla definitely today would be diagnosed autistic.
If you got rid of all of the genes that cause autism, you'd be rid of Carl Sagan, you'd be rid of Mozart.
Einstein, today, would be labeled autistic.
He had no speech until he was three years old.
Half of all the people that work these big tech companies have got at least a mild version of Asperger's.
You didn't have a little bit of those Asperger autistic genes, you wouldn't even have any computers.
(gentle music) I just loved flying things when I was child.
I loved model airplanes that flew.
I loved kites.
If it flew, I liked it.
And then when I got into high school, it was horses.
Horses, horses, and more horses.
(horses galloping) I was diagnosed with Autism as a young child.
I had all of the full-blown autism symptoms: no speech, screaming, just everything.
I was definitely fully autistic.
(gentle music) My brain is visually indexed.
I'm basically totally visual.
I mean, everything in my mind works like a search engine set for the image function, and you type in a keyword, and I get pictures, and it comes up in an associational sort of way.
I want you to give me some keywords, and don't give me something common like house or car because everybody can visualize that.
- [Voiceover] Alfalfa.
- [Voiceover] Well, I saw a field of hay.
Now I'm seeing bales of hay over where Mark's horses are.
And I go, "Oops, that's grass hay.
"That's not alfalfa."
Now I'm down at the zoo, and they used to feed alfalfa hay to the animals.
Nancy used to complain it was way too rich.
But, okay, you're wondering how did I get from alfalfa to Phoenix Zoo.
Okay, it's associational.
There is a logical progression there.
(guitar music) I've designed handling facilities for all the major meat companies.
Half of the cattle in this country, when they go to a meat plant, they're handled in a center track restrainer system that I designed.
And my first big breakthrough was when I designed dip vat systems and they worked really, really well.
Beef Magazine and all the cattle magazines were there, and one of them called it a work of art, and I was just so happy.
People, you know, being autistic, they thought I was really weird, but my stuff worked.
(guitar music) I started doing my livestock handling class.
I also guest lectured on humane slaughter methods, cattle handling, meat quality things, livestock behavior for the veterinary college.
And my students in my class actually had to draw drawings.
One of the interesting things I've found is that there are some students that absolutely can't draw, that have learning problems, and I can tell by looking at the drawings because, okay, instead of just drawing nice half-circles, they've got it all over the place.
I just had a student this year in my class, her drawings were really horrible.
I'm asking the student, "So what are you seeing?"
She says, "Well, I see just waves."
And I asked her if she hated driving at night, hated fluorescent lights.
Print jiggle on the page?
I suggested she go out and try on some different colored sunglasses, and she went out and got some little pink sunglasses and her economics grade went from a B to an A because now she could see the charts.
Cheap sunglasses, a simple intervention.
Nobody knows why they work, but they do, and there's kids flunking out of school that don't need to.
That's the thing that's so disgusting, and the only reason I know about this is because of the autism community.
One of the big concerns I have right now is getting people on the spectrum into good careers.
Computer science and stuff like that.
As an autistic person, I am what I do more than what I feel, and I get a lot of satisfaction in life.
Okay, I design something and it works, or I have a student say, "Well, your course was really helpful to me."
Or somebody likes one of my books, they say, well, it helped them with their autistic child, or it helped them to understand their dog.
That makes me really happy that I'm doing something that does something constructive on the ground.