From Monday's Globe and Mail
Montreal — If you wanted to create a surreal, academic version of The Odd Couple, these two could be the stars.
He is the highly respected university professor, a quintessentially French gentleman of a certain age, glasses perched on his nose, with literary allusions and scientific theories rolling off his tongue with equal alacrity.
She is a middle-aged woman, eyes darting about the room constantly, arms bearing the marks of well-practised self-mutilation and tossing out her inflammatory opinions in staccato fashion.
Yet, like the classic TV pair, Felix and Oscar, behind their glaringly obvious differences, lie mutual respect, admiration and complicity.
He is Laurent Mottron, distinguished professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal and world-renowned autism researcher.
She is Michelle Dawson, a postal worker on disability leave (involuntarily), an outspoken activist and herself autistic.
Theirs is not a doctor-patient relationship.
Rather, Dr. Mottron and Ms. Dawson are colleagues, having co-authored six (and counting) papers published in specialized journals such as Brain, Neuropsychology and the Journal of Autism and Behavioral Disorders, research that is making waves in both the scientific and autism communities.
Their latest collaboration, a study presented Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in St. Louis, is the most controversial yet: That people with autism — most of whom are classified as of low intelligence or mentally retarded — are a lot smarter than anyone ever imagined.
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