Autism And Human Evolutionary Success

By Wayne Parker, Parent Herald November 18, 12:24 am

Academics from the University of York have concluded that 100,000 years ago in our evolutionary history, there was a subtle change that permitted individuals who behaved, who thought differently to be inculcated into the society.

Collaborative morality was responsible for this change; it meant that those who had autistic traits were likely to be not only accepted in society but probably respected for their individuality. Genetic studies have implied that autism has a long evolutionary history, thus hinting that our ancestors most likely had autism too.

But unlike today wherein people with autism are treated very differently from ordinary people, people with autism in those years would have been important players in their society thanks to the uniqueness of their skills.

Penny Spikins, a senior lecturer at the University of York, said that the characteristics of a single person were less significant in the human evolutionary success than the diversity and differences between people. She stated that is the birth of collaborative morality that broadened the variation of the human personality.

Superior memory skills, the exceptional perception in the senses, a refined understanding of natural systems were only some of the unique traits autistic people had.

Inculcating these competencies in society was very vital in the growth of specialists, suggested the authors of the report.

In 2005, there was an ethnographic study on an elderly Siberian deer herder published in Time and Mind and it was found out that he had a detailed memory of all of his 2600 animals including their parentage, medical history, and character ad though the header was much more comfortable with his reindeer than of humans, he was still respected and even had a wife and a son.

Tangible evidence always has difficult to obtain for academics, especially in archeological records.

Spikins said that a skeletal record for autism cannot be given by archeological records, but it can provide us with a record of how these individuals were different and how they were integrated. More clues can be found as artifacts in caves.

Identifying autistic traits in upper paleolithic cave art has long been a debatable topic. It really cannot be said that someone who had autism drew parts of it, but there are some traits that we can link to autism. It was at that time that they saw collaborative morality rising.

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