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Elon Musk was bad at understanding social cues as a child because he had no friends in school. As a result, he picked up social cues from reading books, according to his new biography. As a teenager, Elon Musk followed his sister around to clubs and parties so he didn’t have to be lonely.
Billionaire Elon Musk was a lonely child because he struggled to make friends in school and this also meant he had a hard time understanding social cues, according to his new biography penned by Walter Isaacson.
Isaacson wrote that Elon Musk’s mother Maye Musk put him in nursery at three years old because he was “intellectually curious,” despite the principal’s warnings that he would experience social challenges, being younger than anyone else in the class.
“It was a mistake,” Isaacson writes. “Elon had no friends, and by the time he was in second grade he was tuning out.”
Elon Musk would later pin his problems down to having Aspergers, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, causing emotional and social challenges that made him “bad at picking up social cues,” according to Isaacson.
“I took people literally when they said something,” Elon Musk told Isaacson. “And it was only by reading books that I began to learn that people did not always say what they really meant.”
Musk “had a preference for things that were more precise such as engineering, physics, and coding,” Isaacson writes.
Maye Musk told Isaacson that Elon Musk “became so lonely and sad,” when he started going to school.
“Kimbal and Tosca would make friends on the first day and bring them home, but Elon never brought friends home. He wanted to have friends, but just didn’t know how.”
When Elon Musk was a teenager, his family briefly lived in Toronto, and he insisted on following his sister Tosca Musk around to clubs and parties so he didn’t have to be lonely, according to the book.
Tosca Musk, “a saucy teenager,” liked to go out often and allowed her brother to join her but ordered him to “stay 10 feet away,” from her “at all times.”
Musk walked “behind her and her friends,” Isaacson wrote, “carrying a book to read whenever they went into a club or party.”