TED Conversations

Theodore A. Hoppe


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Is autism, or some types of autism, an evolutionary effect.

This is an uninformed notion I have had, and this is the first time I have found support for it.
Toward the end of this TED talk Enriquez provides some numbers on the rate at which autism has increased in a decade, 78%.

He says, "We are trying to take in as much information in a day as people use to take in in a lifetime."
Is autism a rapid evolution of the brain?

Topics: autism evolution

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  • Jun 14 2012: I've read the comments here and something interesting strikes me about Autism: Emotional detachment.

    From all the literature I've been exposed to, I would probably classify myself as having a mild form of Asperger's. That is by no means a clinical analysis - just a personal guess. From this viewpoint I would propose a simple cause-effect-effect-.. regarding why Asperger's and Autistic people are so detached:

    No one understands them.

    "Birds of a feather flock together" is an old, old saying and it probably applies here too. I'm socially outgoing enough (thanks, mom) but I don't feel like I 'connect' with people. I have always been the awkward one. I never connected with kids when I was a kid and I have a very hard time connecting with adults now. It's not that I have nothing in common with people, it's just they don't have anything _deep_ in common with me. I would propose this is a mild version of what Autistic people endure.

    Lets say you are 23 years old and you LOVE space exploration. You're confined to a room with a bunch of your peers and all they can talk about is American Pie and getting drunk. Your world revolves around physics, space, astronomy, cosmology, orbital mechanics, robotics, and.. Their world revolves around people being dumb and getting drunk.

    Wouldn't you clam up and disconnect from them after a while? You'd recess into your own little world. What if you were confined to that room of you vs. 100 for a day.. for a week.. for a year.. what if you were confined to it your entire life?

    Even better: What if those 100 were in charge of defining "normal"?

    I'm not sure if Autism is an evolutionary effect in and of itself. I'd postulate that it is an expression of the evolution that has already been happening since human life started - just another step on the road.

    I'd also propose that "normal" people might be part of devolution (going the wrong way - lower cognitive capacity, causing them to become less aware of details)
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      Jun 15 2012: re: No one understands them

      "A few years ago, the marriage of David and Kristen Finch was falling apart. They barely spoke anymore. And then Kristen asked David to take a test - a quiz with 153 questions that led to a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. The diagnosis changed their lives. They talk about how the recognition of Aspergers changed how they relate to each other."


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