Sports

How Asperger's Makes a Better Surfer

Clay Marzo is one of the best surfers in the word. He also has Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. In September's Outside magazine, Jonah Lehrer explains what one has to do with the other. Asperger's syndrome can cause impaired social interactions and difficulty communicating, but it also creates intense preoccupation with a subject. For some, that means an obsession with coffee makers or 19th century trains. For Marzo, it's surfing. Says a fellow champion surfer, "Clay's kind of a surfing freak... [he] definitely knows things that I don't know." Marzo's mom is often in the position of communicating for him. "He remembers every single wave," she says. "They all kind of look the same to me, but not to Clay."