This doesn't mean atheists all have autism it just means more autistic among them. Hispid on CARM introduced it and explained this way:
The cognitive science of religion is a new field which
explains religious belief as emerging from normal cognitive
processes such as inferring others' mental states, agency
detection and imposing patterns on noise. This paper
investigates the proposal that individual differences in belief
will reflect cognitive processing styles, with high functioning
autism being an extreme style that will predispose towards
nonbelief (atheism and agnosticism). This view was
supported by content analysis of discussion forums about
religion on an autism website (covering 192 unique posters),
and by a survey that included 61 persons with HFA. Persons
with autistic spectrum disorder were much more likely than
those in our neurotypical comparison group to identify as
atheist or agnostic, and, if religious, were more likely to
construct their own religious belief system. Nonbelief was
also higher in those who were attracted to systemizing
activities, as measured by the Systemizing Quotient.
Keywords: Cognitive science of religion; autism; cognitive
styles; individual differences
It makes sense if the major trait associated with autism is the lower functioning of "theory of mind" then it is also less likely that one would attribute natural phenomena to the workings of an uber mind.In other words the autistic among them keep them grounded in reality. I think that might explain their inability to understand concepts, their refusal to consider philosophical notions, their childish mocking. That and low self esteem accounts for the really obnoxious part of the atheist community.
I'm sure Hermit will respond with outrage. the truth is I don't know what this means. I'm sure atheism is not the product of any mental defect.
We can't bury the research but we shouldn't make intellectual criticisms based upon the weakest opponents. We should only base intellectual criticism upon the strongest opponents. Unless we are talking about the bad behavior of an element. We can't criticize a whole movement on the weakness of a few.