As I’ve witnessed, the opposite approach to universal design inclusivity leads to the likelihood of increased segregation, such as the implementation of entirely separate hiring processes for job candidates who have a specific neurological difference. Neurodiversity isn’t meant to be a means of setting individuals apart. Siphoning a member of a marginalized community into a separate process leads to discrimination. Imagine if we encouraged all women to go through a segregated hiring program! It’s easy to see the problems with such an approach — and the benefits that universal design inclusivity can bring in its stead.
I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don’t know quite know what problems are worth working on … He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important. … [T]here is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder.
What both of them are saying is that producing brilliant work is heavily reliant on serendipity. Putting your nose to the grindstone will certainly get things done, but when you are working on cutting-edge problems with no predetermined path to success you derive inspiration through chance discoveries.
Both these men were probably relied on conversations with their brilliant colleagues to deliver them random insights. But they also had the advantage of working at the top of their games at Caltech  and Bell Labs, respectively. The common geek today relies on the Internet, especially community watering holes like HackerNews and Reddit, to keep abreast of “what the world is and what might be important”.
Professor Robert Sapolsky has hypothesized that conditions such as OCD, schizophrenia, and epilepsy have been selected for due to potentially massive contributions to religious, spiritual, and philosophical thought. Go check out his lecture, link in the description. In fact, I recommend his whole Stanford lecture series if you have any interest in Human Behavioral Biology. Basically: maybe a little bit of schizophrenia can actually be advantageous if you’re in the right society for it. And no, neither Professor Sapolsky nor I are saying you have to be “crazy” to believe in religion. Ugh, the C word. There are many well-studied advantages to religious thought and experience. Carl Jung, in fact, said that he would have diagnosed himself with schizophrenia though he channeled his experiences into his work on the collective unconscious, and received great spiritual comfort from his hallucinations. You can read about these experiences and experiments in The Red Book, though I personally haven’t read it so I don’t know if it’s any good. Due to migraine, I often have visual hallucinations which are entirely harmless and, sometimes, maybe even a little fun.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks, who also experienced these sorts of migraines, wrote in his book Hallucinations:
“To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see overall patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or at least the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology or in states of mind which allow us to travel to other worlds, to transcend our immediate surroundings. We need detachment of this sort as much as we need engagement in our lives.”
― Oliver Sacks, Hallucinations
And no, autism is not the next step in human evolution. Stop that. That’s not how evolution works, autism has always been around we’re just now recognizing and diagnosing it.
Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent van Gogh suffered. It’s because Vincent van Gogh had a brother who loved him. Through all the pain, he had a tether, a connection to the world. And that is the focus of the story we need. Connection.
Imagine that you have a neurodevelopmental disability that gives you some challenges with social skills and possibly the occasional rigid adherence to things like truth and fairness. Chances are good that you’ve been explicitly and implicitly told that you are pedantic, rude, blunt and not considerate enough of others’ points of views for your whole life.
We need to become better at being humans. Learning to use symbols and knowledge in new ways, across groups, across cultures, is a powerful, valuable, and very human goal. And it is also one that is obtainable, if we only begin to open our minds to full, complete use of computers to augment our most human of capabilities.