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rojo's avatar

Is Autism just the next step in the evolutionary process?

Asked by rojo (15971 points ) March 25th, 2014

A recent article Here has linked ASD to the same gene family as those that are involved with the evolution of the brain.
What are your thoughts on the connection between autism and the evolution of the brain?

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11 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

Tony Attwood in his book A Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome did quote a saying of an Aspie which had the same content as the title of your question. I think it’s true in some ways. Autistic peope in general and Aspie in specific are born expert and they can do a lot more than many normal people. They all have incredible talents deep down. They have different ways of thinking, many of which can lead to great discoveries no one can see coming. Many famous people have their “austism” gene in them. Take Einstein for example.

Or so I think. But right now they are mostly regarded as “weird, stupid, naive people” by many. It’s just because most can’t see what they really can do. Just like a “revolutionary” piece of art. People just can’t see its value until much later.

When referring to Autistic people I love to use the phrase “ugly duckling”. Their value can only be revealed until much later.

jerv's avatar

Relevant (See #1)

jerv's avatar

In today’s technological age,pattern recognition, repetitive behavior, and not wasting time socializing can be great assets. Seeing similarities (patterns) that others don’t is why I see Android as no harder than iOS; same pattern, though most look no further than the presence/absence of an Apple logo and thus refute any similarity. Repetitive behavior keeps us from getting bored at work. Less socializing means more time for stuff that will help us survive in today’s world, whether it be working, learning, or designing death rays in our basements. (Just kidding on that last one; mine’s in the closet.) Minorbbonuses include more acute senses (though sometimes too acute, leading to sensory overload) and, at least for Aspies, a few extra IQ points.

I won’t say “next step” as we’ve always been around. It’s just that now our traits are more useful, so Nature is making moreof us.

Bill1939's avatar

The links that @rojo and @jerv provided suggest that a variety of brain formations exist and have existed for hundreds of millenniums, and that different formations were advantageous at different levels of societal evolution. Homo erectus is believed to have spread through Africa, Asia, and Europe some 1.5 million years ago and anatomically modern humans came into existence about 200,000 years ago. I suspect that tens of millenniums will be necessary before a significant development of human brains will have occurred.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I have a friend who’s kid is autistic. Yeah, he has the pattern recognition and all that which might be useful somehow, but he also (at 8 years old) still shits his parts and is extremely difficult to communicate with. I’d say whatever advantages that pattern recognition might offer is outweighed by the negatives.

RocketGuy's avatar

Evolution is always going on. Society is needing the talents of Aspies, so more will survive, prosper, and reproduce.

My dad probably had a few notches of Aspie and passed that to me. My daughter seems to have a notch of Aspie. My brother seems to have less Aspie (more normal than me), but his son has a double dose (probably contribution from the mother’s side). Her family has some Aspie characteristics. My brother and I are taking advantage of our technical talents, and have minimal time unemployed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ve often wondered if it wasn’t some form of autism that tipped humans over from being “dumb animals” to being human.

My son’s step-son is autistic. Very high functioning, VERY smart…and extremely annoying. He uses his brains to push people’s buttons. Can’t push mine, though, ‘cause I got his number.
He asked me the other day if I liked little kids. I said, “Yup! I love ‘em!”
He said, “Well, if you love ‘em, why do you put ‘em in time out?” LOL!

Also, told him we were going to a farm and the farmer had a wolf (it’s half wolf, half shepherd) That prompted a thousand questions. “Is it a real wolf or a human dressed up like a wolf? Is it mean? Does it bite?”
Question 999 was, “What does he eat?”
Off offhandedly I said out “He eats little kids.”
Poor Jaden! he stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes got big as saucers and he said, “Is that why you’re taking me out there?”
I suck! Oh, I felt so bad! :/
I quickly reassured him that the wolf is nice and I’d never take him some place where he could get hurt.
Jaden and the wolf upon meeting
Jaden and the wolf 5 minutes later

RocketGuy's avatar

Here in Silicon Valley, they look for programmers who have a several notches of Aspie. I don’t think I am far enough there, but my nephew is. Among is talents, he can read and write backwards (“redrum, redrum”) and forwards. Sounds like DaVinci. He can also hear all conversations within 20 feet.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@RocketGuy your nephew sounds like my son. My husband is in IT. He’s completely self taught.

Yes, like Temple Grandin, I think autism got us out of cave dwelling….

“If by some magic autism had been eliminated from the gene pool, you would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave chatting and socializing and not getting anything done”.

jerv's avatar

@Darth_Algar Too much of a good thing is bad.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Darth_Algar Developmental delay is precisely that…a delay. It doesn’t mean the child develops on a typical timeline. Once parents and society ‘get’ that, it’s much easier to see the talents/gifts and work on developing those gifts into a future career while building necessary life skills for future independence.

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