High functioning ASD remnants from earlier humans?

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07 Nov 2018, 3:50 am

Sorry for the long title. Before I get attacked, which I fully anticipate, let me explain my thinking.

tl;dr Aspergian traits are remains from when intelligence, ingenuity, and social independence were valued in the past, and gradually disappeared with more complex societies which prioritized social ability. In this scenario, I also assume Aspergers or high functioning autism to be distinct from more debilitating forms of autism, which show a different neural structure than Aspergers and other HFASDs.

Firstly, there may have been a time in earlier human development, especially during extreme climate changes like the Last glacial maximum, where people became isolated from each other and traits like intellect, ingenuity, problem solving, and self-dependency were valued, especially in males who had to help hunt and design protection. The lack of abundance meant that every little innovation might be able to supply something like food for months, and as a result, many of these traits could be naturally selected. A degree of social skills are needed in small family bands and tribes, yes, but in most cases (not all) families don't require extensive socialization and are already accustomed to each other. In short, when you're comfortable with people, you're slightly more likely to accept them, and them you.

These early socially-detached human groups could have started to gradually shift to more communal lifestyles due to increased selection of those who could communicate better thanks to the rise of complex societies, urbanization, and the expansion of farming. Ever notice how in a large group the one with the most social oddity gets singled out, while even second in line in terms of social incapacity will join the others in scrutiny of the odd one out? We were essentially made to look less capable because the traits listed above became less desirable, just like a larger amygdala (useful in early humans because fear kept you alive, while now it hinders us).

And thirdly, judging by both the fact that my own results listed me as having genetic variants associated with Asperger's as well as high functioning autism, and it runs very strongly in not only my own family, but those of people who have Asperger's that I know personally, I have reason to believe that it is passed down and only a small part of it is environmental (which would be the social anxiety that worsens symptoms. If we believe we are awkward, we put less effort into using intellect to counter this). This means that the traits survived somehow, or spread with a small founder population. It's somewhat easier to learn cues intellectually than to reciprocate them.

Additionally, the supposed racial pattern, and increase in frequency of autistic spectrum disorders in West Eurasians (Europe, Middle East, North Africa, etc.) is similar in distribution to other genes which are unique to these groups, a remnant of this isolation and which spread far after the separation of West and East Eurasian groups like Chinese or Malays. After the ice age, most of Europe and even the Farming-heavy (large cities) Middle East was repopulated by mostly isolated hunter gatherer communities which didn't interact until later but came from a distant common origin. The impact of the ice age was also different in Western Eurasia than it was in East Asia, extending as far south as the Atlas and Zagros mountains down from Scandinavia and Britain.

I know this sounds like a messed up conspiracy theory, but hear out this last part. I'm not some autistic supremacist, I don't think that I'm better than others, if not a bit worse off. I hold nothing of what I say as absolutely true, I don't dislike "neurotypicals" and I take my OWN ideas lightly. I just want to look at high functioning autism in a different way to see if there really is some small possibility that Aspergian traits are not mistakes or errors in development but rather remnants like the warrior gene in ADHD. I also wonder if Aspergian traits, at least as I defined them, will become useful in the future again as our societies and the world changes.

I forgot to mention: Emotional detachment in aspergers could also serve as a resistance to starkness of landscape, and Asperger brains like repetition and patterns, as well as similar surroundings. Living in central Africa, where you're exposed to highlands, desert, jungle, savanna, and mountains is going to help the person become accustomed to traveling over a wide variety of terrain types, as opposed to the frozen tundra of LGM Germany or the ice fields of Iran and Turkey.

https://theautismblog.seattlechildrens. ... -and-race/
http://professormichaelfitzgerald.eu/pe ... -syndrome/
https://www.livescience.com/40311-pleis ... epoch.html


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07 Nov 2018, 4:19 am

My opinion: you need just one shaman in the village. Aspergerian traits have always been there, always in minority and very often beneficial for the community as a whole.

Ailurophrenia. Meow.
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Joined: 22 Jan 2019
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22 Jan 2019, 5:57 pm

I used to think we are either primitive in a lot of ways or the next step in human evolution. I don't know what to think anymore but it's interesting.


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22 Jan 2019, 6:26 pm

The exact opposite is more likely.

Despite the fact that human population density was less in the Paleolithic than now, human societies back then were more communalistic, and more cooperation based, and less individualistic than modern society. NT traits were selected for because of the great need for social acumen back in the stone age.

Autism at each level always existed. However IF it is getting more common now ( and I am not sure that it really is getting more common) there could be reasons for that.

Starting with the invention of movable type in circa 1450 AD literacy became more important, and selected for for survival. Then in circa 1800 AD they invented the steam locomotive, so folks moved around more. This caused folks to meet and get spouses from farther afield than just the next village. Folks would meet spouse in places of higher learning, and would self select partners of similar IQ and other traits. This caused gradually more geniuses to appear, but also more autistics to appear in the population as more kids were conceived with double doses of inherited traits of intellect and literacy. Just a thought.

Snowy Owl
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05 Feb 2019, 1:01 am

I would argue autism has always been weaponized since war has always been a, if not the, main catalyst for technological innovation, hence nuclear weapons.

So guess who is going to be VERY valuable to the leaders during war-time and would have a high status of sorts: autistics.

It's something the romantics don't really want to talk about, but it is reality so it is best to not ignore it.