How our autistic ancestors helped shape human evolution

| | December 1, 2017
Radiological Society of North America
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

[W]hen we talk about the autism spectrum – we are all “a bit autistic” – and we all fit somewhere along a spectrum of traits. And we know through genetic research that autism and autistic traits have been part of what makes us human for a long time. Research has shown that some key autism genes are part of a shared ape heritage, which predates the “split” that led us along a “human” path.

[A]ncestors with autism played an important role in their social groups through human evolution because of their unique skills and talents. Going back thousands of years, people who displayed autistic traits would not only have been accepted by their societies, but could have been highly respected.

Many people with autism have exceptional memory skills, heightened perception in realms of vision, taste and smell and in some contexts, an enhanced understanding of natural systems such as animal behaviour. And the incorporation of some of these skills into a community would have played a vital role in the development of specialists.

[I]t’s no wonder that including autism [in our evolutionary past] – something which is still seen as a “disorder” by some – is considered to be controversial.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How our autistic ancestors played an important role in human evolution

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