Cogito Patris

Random Thoughts for Random People

Random Theory Alert

OK, so I have a tendency to create wild theories and to post them for whomever will read them.  As an example, there is the Terraforming of Venus.  So, here is the latest installment of what I am calling my “Wild Theory” category:

 As I have mentioned before, my son is autistic.  He is considered “high functioning” which means he has the intelligence to be considered “normal”, he simply learns differently from his peers.

So, here is my wild theory: Autism is an evolutionary step FORWARD.

 Autism is currently handled as a learning disability (Personally, I hate that word).  I am certainly not the first to call it a learning difference.  Here is why I think that Autism is the next step in human evolution:

 1) Autistic children (and adults) are usually good at recognizing patterns.  In an increasingly technological society pattern recognition is a benefit.

2) Autistic children tend to have good memories.  They are able to recall details from memory more easily than “normal” children.

3) Autistic children learn more easily from television than from a human teacher.  This may sound like a disadvantage, but consider the sheer volume of high-quality children’s programming that is currently available and compare that to the dronings of a single teacher trying to pour knowledge in to children’s brains.  I think the future of education is in “learning machines” rather than human teachers (partially due to the difficulty in finding qualified teachers).

4) Autism is considered a learning disability.  At some point in the evolution in man, the two-chambered heart used by primitive animals would need to morph in to a four-chambered heart.  While this was occurring, the additional weight of the heart would be considered a flaw, though not a critical flaw.  When the fully functioning four-chambered heart was finally developed, the carrier of that heart would have a decided advantage over his or her peers.  Why can’t the same be true of the human brain?  An autistic child may be a baby step on the way to a new evolutionary step. Doctor’s can not point to the part of the brain that is “wrong” in an autistic child (at least I havn’t found anything dealing with that).  Scientists still don’t know how the brain actually works, what constitutes consciousness and sentience.  Maybe our brains use quantum-level “switches” to make decisions.  Perhaps autism is a subatomic modification of those quantum-level “switches” that doesn’t show up on medical equipment.

5) Autism isn’t perfect.  This may be my strongest argument for Darwinian Evolution (at least if this theory is correct).  Autistic children are split in to groups.  Those that are mentally diminished and those that are considered “High Functioning”.  I am fortunate enough to have a High-Functioning autistic son.  Going back to the evolution of the four-chambered heart, not every step taken in the evolution of the heart would be a step forward.  More often than not, the heart would fail under the strain.  The heart itself wouldn’t function at all.  It is an evolutionary mis-step.  That sounds needlessly callous to those people that are dealing with the evolutionary mis-steps in the evolution of the brain, but “survival of the fittest”, on which Darwinian evolution is based, allows for the eventual eradication of those evolutionary mis-steps by preventing the genetic code from being passed on to another generation.  In that way evolution is callous.

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January 29, 2007 - Posted by | The Kids, Wild Theory

4 Comments »

  1. I had this same thought about autism being an evolutionary step. Humans are moving into less physical work and into dealing with computers – some with autism are able to sit at a computer without other human interaction for long periods of time and understand the way that computers work. They become absorbed in the world of the computer. By the way, one of my sons is no doubt mildly autistic (probably Aspergers). He has no social skills and was always told in school he had a learning disability. As a boy he would rock back and forth, line up all his toys, and was very regimented. I thought he would not survive getting a job in the real world because he could not talk in a job interview, even though he was a whiz at computers and even got several certifications in the computer. Luckily we had a family job that he could work at. However, his love of the computer won out and he figured a way to make a living sitting at home with his computer and will make a six figure income this year at the age of 26!!

    Comment by Becky | March 8, 2007 | Reply

  2. Thank you for your comment. When dealing with “the child” it can be a little frustrating to try to communicate with a child who can’t or won’t speak. I like hearing “success” stories. It helps to re-enforce the bright future I see for Dante.

    Also it helps to know that I am not talking to myself with this blog. 🙂

    Comment by m2morgan64 | March 22, 2007 | Reply

  3. I have had the thought in regards to evolution and autism for quite some time. My son is on the spectrum. My thought is as follows. Autistic people don’t dislike being around others, quite the contrary. I think their brains are just “turned on” a little more than a typical person. They hear, see, feel, and think all at the same time. Perhaps the ability to process all of this information simultaneously has not developed as fast as the ability to take it in. That is why they pull away from the contact. It isn’t because of indifference. When that ability develops, autistic people will be ten steps ahead of everyone else. They already have a marked ability to “think outside the box”. That, coupled with their predilection to perseverate makes them the only ones likely to be able to solve the world’s problems. Even people like me, who have genius IQs, are not able to make the cognitive leaps that some of those on the autistic spectrum do. That was a bit wordy, by I hope you get my point. I enjoyed reading your article.

    Comment by Beth | April 26, 2007 | Reply

  4. This is by far my most viewed article. This blog is found most frequently using the search “autism evolution”(or some derivation). Apparently this wasn’t as unique a thought as I first believed, but so far I am gratified by the response.

    Although my son is still young I have noticed some of those “cognitive leaps” that you mentioned. It seems strange to me that the brightest future I see may be in the hands of people who are currently considered to have a learning disability.

    Comment by m2morgan64 | April 27, 2007 | Reply


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