Could Autism Be the Next Stage of Human Evolution?

By Jessica Ruvinsky | November 6, 2007 1:46 pm

In the play “Lucy,” an emotionally distant anthropologist (Lisa Emery) decides that her severely autistic daughter Lucy (Lucy DeVito) is not sick. Instead, says the hermit scientist, she is the future: Lucy’s lack of connection to other human beings is actually an evolutionary leap forward. The rest of us? Obsolete—mental health fossils.

Our anthropologist supposes that hypersociality has created a poisonous overgrowth of society curable only by turning inward, and that autism (the diagnosis of which has increased tenfold) arose to accomplish that.

Thanks for the science, but she’s wrong.

Even if the assumptions are correct, her evolutionary hypothesis doesn’t work: Mutations don’t have a purpose; natural selection works on individuals and not whole species; the rise in autism, if it’s even real, has happened in just the last 20 years. Unlike the evolutionary “leaps” the anthropologist cites, autism involves many genes, and would take even more generations to spread if it were advantageous. And most of all, there’s the sex. As one character actually points out, it’s only an adaptation if it makes you have more kids, so a literal human connection is essential.

While science-based theater is potentially more profound and illuminating than, say, science-based cosmetics, Damien Atkins’s “Lucy” doesn’t get much past putting on scienceface. Even so, the basic idea is great. It IS possible that autism could be the next stage in evolution. As long as there is variation, it’s heritable, and it leads to differential reproductive success—that is to say, if slightly-autistic geeks get more play—then natural selection may increase the frequency of autism in the future.

And I’m not only saying this because DISCOVER is a prop on the scientist’s coffee table.

Lucy, the current offering from the E.S.T. and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Science & Technology Project, is showing through November 18 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in Manhattan.

  • Anonymous User

    Perhaps in the middle to far future, technology will have such a great influence on society and in such a way that turning inward would in fact be the most beneficial thing for a human to do. It’s also concievable that technology could handle the reproductive aspect to some degree so that humans don’t actually have to form connections anymore. Just look at online dating!

    • giaguzman

      turning inward would benefit us right now…

  • marcus

    When I read the tag-line of this article I got shivers up my spine, as I’ve had this theory… Look at the telescoping nature of evolution, it took billions of years for life to emerge as single celled organisms. Then hundreds of millions of years to the first sea-life, then tens of millions of years for life to emerge onto land then millions of years through amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and on up to hominids which have become “modern” through tens of thousands of years. It seems only natural to me that evolution will continue to occur in shorter periods until there’s a crescendo, possibly within a few generations or possibly it’s already upon us. But I fully believe this will mean evolution on individual basis’, which isn’t even evolution in the classic sense but I have no doubt that that is how it will occur. Evolution will no longer be the mechanism of the persistence of life, but the fulfillment of life, or rather the realization of the potential of life, which in my mind would be transendence of the masses and actualization of the individual which will transcend life and reality as we know it, and at the same time be something far more wonderful and uncomprehensible to those who don’t evolve.

    • Plain Jane

      Marcus, think you’re on to something here. I have been undergoing a profound change in my experience of the world in the last few months, which has been diagnosed as fibromyalgia. This has prompted a lot of reading about the condition on my part and I’ve come to the conclusion that I agree with the theory that fibromyalgia is basically extreme environmental sensitivity and that it is very similar to autism, only it kicks in when you’re an adult. From a superficial societal perspective, one would think I’m losing ground–physically less stamina, less ability to function in social situations, etc., yet my intellectual and creative skills have never been stronger. I’ve just had to reposition my working life to capitalize on that. This is actually a huge advantage economically. It feels like evolution in one lifetime… a strengthening of one form of intelligence to replace one that was growing obsolete.  

  • Anonymous User

    I find the comment questioning the rise in the number of autism cases to be quite offensive. The author needs to do more research. My son is autistic and believe me, I wish more than anything in this world that he did not have it. We need more people in the scientific community (researchers, doctors, and writers who specialize in science) to get their heads out of the sand before it’s too late. We need answers. Why is this happening to our kids? What can be done about stopping it?

  • Anonymous User

    this theory reminds me somewhat of the book childhood’s end. It does spin it in a more sinister fashion, though.

  • Anna

    This causes me to entertain an amusing notion. Maybe “reproductive success” will no longer be the defining factor of the survival of the human species. The effects of overpopulation could possibly destroy the earth and the existence of humans altogether. Therefore, what if there are gene mutations occurring, such as one that causes autism, that would help to control the population by making relationships/reproduction LESS likely? I’m no scientist, but it certainly begs the question to me. Just brainstorming. :)

  • Jessica Ruvinsky

    No one questions the current prevalence of autism – it’s all around. The uncertain part (maybe necessarily uncertain) is to what extent it has gone undiagnosed in the past. Luckily, tracking down the history is not the only way to track down the cause.

  • Anonymous User

    Are we so sure that that this rise in autism isn’t a triggering of already-dormant genes, rather than mutations? suppose the development of autism is triggered by the presence of various enviromental chemicals characteristic of dense populations of organisms, which are absorbed by the fetus in utero,affecting the development of the human mind. The presence of the compound has but to reach a threshhold, and the brain develops in such a way as to limit the organisms reproduction while still allowing it to be fairly survivable.
    This could be a long present adaptation meant to allow a population to self-limit. any higher animal could benefit from some of its individuals becoming “unresponsive” to others in a closed environment for a generation or two(say an island or an oasis or whatever), until the population dwindles to sustainable levels for that area, thereby lowering the levels of the environmental factors that initially caused the autism explosion. Obviously there would have to be some individuals born with enough social capability to reproduce, hence the “degrees” of autism such as aspergers, high-functioning, etc. The conclusion would be that the rise in autism is the result of more pregnant women living in densely populated areas, orthat the presence of that environmental factor has reached that threshhold by some other cause.

  • Anonymous User

    No, I am not sure. It was simply another theory. Thank you for doing me the honor of entertaining my little idea intelligently, though, unlike some people. I am part of the “spectrum” I mentioned above and as such have a less than impartial interest in the subject, and you’re right, it does feel good to rationalize why one would be this way. As a teen I entertained the fantastical idea that autism was a manifestation of ancestral neanderthal traits, (autism is most commonly found in Europeans) an idea almost as drama-worthy as the one in ‘Lucy’, but again, more ‘science-face’ than science.

  • Anonymous User

    Yes, but what would that strange, as-yet unidentified chemical BE? Before we search for hypotheses that support the claim made in this loosely-based-on-fact play, we need to find out more about autism itself. And – is it really viable that there would be a special chemical that triggered it based on population density?

    I know it feels good to tell yourself that autism happens for a reason, and that it’s really something more than some kind of mutation. But, if we are to do so, we need to first look at all the other, inglorious, theories that are much more realistic.

  • Anonymous User

    Now that you mention it, it does resemble Childhood’s End… That book used to give me nightmares as a child, and the fact that real life is looking more similar to it is doing nothing for my peace of mind. Then again, I suppose that’s just what I get for reading so many science fiction books. And being mildy paranoid.

  • Anonymous User

    We live in an increasingly knowledge based society, it no longer matters if you are an asocial 98 pound weakling instead of a caveman when it comes to daily survival. Look at Bill Gates. Poster child for Aspergers Syndrome (autism lite) he’s got the money, the beautiful wife and the mansion, and he did it using his brains. ‘Success’ hasn’t been redefined, ‘power’ has.

  • Anonymous User

    Some leading doctors have shown evidences that 60 to 70 percent of autist children were the result of immunizations/vaccinations. The rapid increase in their numbers coincide with more parents taking their babies to be vaccinated, especially in 3rd world nations where vaccinations are made compulsory in some countries. As more families reach middle and upper-income status, they can now afford more ‘modern’ medical care and thus the rise of fully vaccinated children… and thus the rise of hyperactive children and autism. The best way to keep our children healthy is cleanliness. Research has indicated that the decrease of major diseases around the world are the results of better sanitation and hygiene.

  • William

    It’s not the vacines that are the problem it’s the mercury they use as a perservative within it. A heavy metal Mercury can effect the brain even in small doses and has diffrent effects on diffrent people. Some people just are less effected by it.

  • Camilo

    It is not out of any biological necessity that evolution will favor autism (there are certainly other more logic less vulnerable means of evoliving into a more demographically controlled society). it is, like one reader said, A CALL for evolution on individual basis. Nowadays we are seeing increasing sensibilities among children, yes, tremendous vunerability to the environment. That to me is not evolution. But considering how those sensitive genes turned on, then there is a short term evolutionary response: humans need a more sensible brain to the environmental, nutritional, emotional irritants that past generations could withstand but that after mutations and mutations DNA damage, bad genetic signaling, deficiencies in parents, the only thing that could result from that were brains that carried the message: I WANT OUT! So yes, it is not a call for evolution, it is a call for consciousness. Hoping to get back to the basics of nutrition and clean air, which to me is pretty much the basis of later stages of fulfillment of life, or like this other guy said, the realization of the potential of life. And yes, this trascends the masses and catapults the individual to a much higher level of intelligence. Society is transforming.

  • Foo

    What an enormous load of crap.

  • Andrew Lehman

    The premise of the piece above is that natural selection is the only selective process. Darwin offered three theories of evolution. Natural selection was only his first, and least subtle.

    What drives autistic evolution is sexual selection operating through a matrifocal social structure additionally influenced by the environment through Lamarckian principles.

    Please consider visiting to review a unique and unorthodox theory for the cause of autism.

  • Simon

    An interesting idea and similar to some thoughts I have had.

    Looking back I have to say that my son showed indicative behaviours of Autism Spectrum Disorder from as little as 6 weeks although we didn’t know it at that time and it was only now we know and we think back that it seems so obvious. Therefore I don’t personally subscribe to all of these vacines/mercury causing Autism theories.

    My son is who he is and I love him even more for it! I personally find it offensive if people suggest that this or that is wrong with my son because……

    There is nothing wrong with him, he just thinks differently to us ‘normal’ people,

    • Lolaperola

      I like to think that my son is unique not “ordinary” and the more I meet ordinary boys his age and see they’re nasty personalities, the happier I am that my child is not “ordinary” He is a very gentle little soul, contrary to what many people say about autistic children being violent and throwing tantrums. My so called “normal” child has out tantrummed my “unique” child, 20 to 1

  • matt T

    I have aspergers syndrome and I for one would never want to be anything else. The person who mentioned about her son, do you know if he wants to be anything other than who he is?

    ‘My son is autistic and believe me, I wish more than anything in this world that he did not have it. ‘ is that your opinion or his? To me that is no worse than saying your son is an athiest and you want him converted to Islam/christianity.

  • LarianLeQuella

    Wow, how did I miss this? I made a similar blog post (although mine was much more on the wild speculation side of things!). How coincidental! :)

  • Alex Cassell

    I’m not sure how old this article is, but your facts aren’t up to date with cutting edge science. Scientists have found the mechanisms that do control our evolution.. Random mutations occurring by chance is yesterdays thinking..

  • Jamaal Young

    To understand autism as a step in evolution, the focus should be on the evolutionary ADVANTAGES, not the DISADVANTAGES. Therefore, a mutation that leads to anti-social behavior would still not be advantageous to human evolution. However, increased intelligence would in fact be an advantage. I associate many forms of autism with higher than normal intelligence, albeit with social deficiencies. Autism may be one form of nature’s messy attempt to select higher intelligence. Perhaps autistic persons that have enough social skills to reproduce will be the next step in human evolution.

  • JKS

    If anything autism is a sort of de-evolution of humans as it makes them less apt to survive without societies aid. Evolution, by definition of its mechanisms, only works beneficially on behalf of an organism by making it more viable within the context of its environment. To put it more logically put a normal healthy person and an autistic person together in any complex situation and I assure you that the normal person will out last the autistic person and probably in short time to boot.

    It’s been postulated that autism may be the result of over vaccination of young children. If this is so (which it may or may not be) then this is a sort of self imposed de-evolution. If this is so it can not even logically be called evolution of any kind bc this is not a naturalistic mechanism at work, it’s stupidity getting the best of us…

  • aerinmeister

    Fascinating! I’ve noticed several references to Childhood’s End in the comments–so as long as we’re talking sci-fi, let’s throw in Darwin’s Radio. As I understand it, that book was informed by real science (along with plenty of wild speculation, yes) and it certainly raises some questions about how punctuated equilibrium might look to those who have the rare opportunity to see it in motion.

    As to the notion of de-evolution, I’d like to remind everyone here that from an objective standpoint, de-evolution does not exist. There is only genetic change fueled by environmental change. We adapt in response to changes in our environment and it is only natural that some of those adaptations should turn out to be unsuccessful. Personally, I don’t see how “severe” autism is going to enhance anyone’s ability to thrive and reproduce. (No offense intended to anyone.) But look at someone with high-functioning autism, someone who possesses both the larger brain AND the ability to function at a reasonable level within society. Then (assuming that autism is even heritable in the first place) we end up with offspring that have tremendously improved memory, focus, and the abililty to make brilliant connections between seemingly unrelated subjects. Will we all be auties someday? Maybe not, but at the very least it’s beneficial for some percentage of the human population to have these kinds of specialized brains. Depending on their area(s) of specialization, autistic folks can become superior artists, programmers, analysts, architects, engineers, statisticians, designers, inventors, and more. How does that improve our viability as a species within this artificial environment that we’ve created? How doesn’t it, is what I’d like to know.

    In case anyone cares, I’m an NT with autistic friends, family and students; and a firm supporter of the autistic cause.

  • R3

    “the rise in autism, if it’s even real, has happened in just the last 20 years.”

    No, our culture has just developed more superficial standards due to the rise of Capitalism and people’s focus on television, the media, money and vast amounts of consumerism. When you live in a nation that’s strongly structured on selling a lifestyle to it’s people, naturally those who have difficulties buying into it, such as Autistics, stand out more so than ever.

    A perfect example of what might be early Autistic thought would be in Existential writing and philosophy. It rose questions about Victorian era Romanticism and the rising power of the Industrial Revolution, ultimately mocking society and it’s embracing the absurdity of it not having any real meaning or purpose.

    “If anything autism is a sort of de-evolution of humans as it makes them less apt to survive without societies aid.”

    I really don’t see how Autism could be considered a sign of devolution. After thousands of years, there still exists tribes throughout our world which don’t rely on a highly superficial structure of living such as ours. Sit them in an upper class restaurant and try talking about fashion, politics, cars, careers and the latest hit song. Chances are they will think you are crazy, if not a complete threat.

    “Perhaps autistic persons that have enough social skills to reproduce will be the next step in human evolution”

    Social skills have little to do with the act of reproduction, we’re only convinced they are because of the culture we are born into. Nature documentaries have shown that mating rituals between animals are rather simplistic and straight to the point. No marriage, no prolonged dating, no discussion of emotions whatsoever.

    If anything, Autism might be nature’s way of pointing out how much humans have overcomplicated things. It wouldn’t surprise me consider how much pollution and filth we’ve created within the past hundred years alone.

  • db

    There are two types of evolution. Evolution that benefits the individual and evolution that benefits the group at the expense of the individual.
    In this case, it’s hard to see how the individual is benefited (less evolutionary fit) and it’s also hard to see how the group is benefited (more resources being poured into unproductive areas).

    The only way out is to look for a third avenue of evolution: evolution that benefits the ecosystem at the expense of the species.

    The massive population of human beings has a huge effect on the environment and the environmental services we all depend on. Perhaps autism is a way that nature is forcing us to scale back. A natural check.

    Food for thought.

  • KL

    I think a key point that many are missing is that evolution takes an incredible amount of time. Perhaps people with autism today are prototypes, meaning nature has yet to “get it right”. There are diffent degrees of autism/ABS (low to high functioning), perhaps nature will one day get it right, where someone born with autism has the benefits of the condition without any of the negatives. I believe humankind is in a transitioning phase. Eventually someone will be born with autism/ABS that has the unique abilities such as a mind like a human calculator, but without the negative effects such as being unable to function in society. This person(s) will be able to reproduce successfully, because they can function as normal people, and probably with more success due to a greater mental capacity. Over the millennia, evolutionary mutations didn’t occur step by step in a straight forward manner. I don’t think the next step in human evolution will come simply, the first of their kind may be viewed as disabled or handicapped, and then over time eventually the right mutation will occur, where they are successful in society, and reproduce because the person may be considered smarter, or be able to do things that give him/her an advantage over their peers.

  • michael

    ok first off adaptation has nothing to do with ones ability to reproduce. adaptation is the copacity to “cope” with changes in an environment. i however realize that autism may not do that in the most noticable way. it most definitely does just very discretely. i have been around several persons (kid and adults with autism) most of which are contrary to popular belief extremely intellegent. i watched a kid crack a trig problem i really didn’t get in no time flat. i watched a 53 year old autistic man rape the shit out of my uncle in texas holdem (counting cards). i’ve also noticed that usually they are only extra intellegent in one or two specific areas (usually math or problem solving). huh problem solving sounds alot like what i have to do every day you’d think any person of whom better understands said problem would have a better chance of solving said problems thus, being able to productively succeeding in life. now understand the notion of autism as the next “stage” may yet be a little hard to fathom at this time but thats just it. darwin was outcasted be the enirety of the amercan society and ridiculed for suggesting something new. i think what you my friend fail to understand is by discarding such ideas is an insult to science and if your to claim yourself a scientist than consider my point. the idea behind science the passion is to open your minds to that of the world around you don’t focus so much on fact or fiction focus more on how and why. how does it work and why does it work like this. in order to fully comprehend that of another you first have to set aside everything you know so your mind is open to a persons values and beliefs. its not your wrong this is how it works but much rather why do you think it works like this how can you help me undersand/show me that is works like this. btw you need to find better methods of persuation my twelve year old brother broke down your word play in a matter of seconds you showed little to none “evidence” to back up your point. you through in the mass amounts of geneplay opposing to that of MOST adaptations and that autism may indeed hinder ones ability to reproduce. i want you to research the increasing amount of autistic rape victims you might find the results startling and quite oppositional to one of your main (and only legitament) points. and try not to use the word geek my brother finds it offensive and claims that he has a harder time as an autistic child in society because of society not because he can’t understand things as well as most people. when you want to be a real scientist let me know. my email addy is and when you respond inform me if you would on the results of your research.

  • cherylL13

    I am a woman with aspergers syndrome, with a husband and toddler. My life has not been conventional to start out, but I have done the things normal people do, I dated, I had sex, I got married. My husband finds me sexy and values my intelligence. It is very possible we are evolution in progress. I feel things that others feel in my body and sense things that can’t always be explained by logic. Some things are hard for me, knowing what to do when I get overwhelmed is a pain, if someone can teach me how to deal with that, then maybe I would not be as limited. All human beings have things that are easier for them than others. Also, who is to say we cannot learn social skills. I am already reading up on body language, and their are social skills videos. We can all advance in our abilities to some degree. Personally, for those who say that we are deevolution, you are being insulting. I have heard that aspergers symptoms have been said to be like the signs of being gifted on different websights. Some people with Aspergers excell in careers because they have a single minded focus and a love of what they study. So what if not everyone is a social genius.

    • Michael

      As a psych R.N. I found the above comment interesting . Also the parent who has a child with autism who dismisses the idea that autism is an evolutionary advancement, but rather sees it as a hindrance. My adopted son is thought to possibly have asperger’s and can shut the whole world out while doing his puzzles and math problems. However, his social cues are limited. If that is the next step in evolution, I consider that a sad lonely step backwards in evolution , deevolution. Isolation instead of enlightenment. A sad testimony to our society.

      • dungone

        What is your definition of enlightenment?  I have a 155 IQ and a single-minded focus but in terms of enlightenment, I really do not see enlightenment in the belief systems and social activities which the vast majority of the human species engages itself in. 

  • JJ

    The reason we are unique as human’s lies somewhere between language and social skills. Little is still known to why we are unique as humans and separated from animals. The argument follows that we have adapted through evolution from apes to human through our ability to form higher social skills and thus language. To determine whether we have ‘theory of mind’ or why would lack this social ability to ‘read’ others minds, may root in the differences between humans and animals. Did language come 1st or the ability to think? It is argued that we are only able to reason due to our ability to speak. Therefore, animals are neither able to speak or ‘think’. The reason we are social animals and have created an ability to talk is due to the fact we are highly social beings with the need to rank in society and to communicate. ‘Theory of mind’ has also been argued to be missing in autistic children and will their disadvantages in social skills and some parts verbal and non-verbal behaviour I am wandering that through evolution they may be the missing link between our predecessor’s apes and humans? Is this possible? Who is to say autism is a new thing, who’s to say it has not been around before the human adaptation we see now. If we adapted why is there nothing in between apes and us? Many studies have tried to prove animals have ‘theory of mind’ and intelligence, an awareness of others mind and mental states but none have come close to show that our predecessors have more than mere stimulus-response associations. I have worked with extreme autistic children and would quite often describe their behaviour as ‘animalistic’ fulfilling only their basic biological needs only communicating if wanting something to help them survive. However, this does not explain the spectrum of the disorder from extreme to aspergers. What I am referring too is only the far extreme scale of autism. Therefore, does their lack of ‘theory of mind’ adapted social skills in order to fit in with the enviroment, convey they are in fact a form of adaptation?

    I am no scientist and don’t mean to offend anyone with my comments merely hypothesising

    • giaguzman

      the thing that separates man from animal… is that we are the only ones who are aware of death. 

  • James Mathew Anderson

    First off, let me start with this: I have aspergers syndrom. It is a less extreme versioun of autism, and 1/15 people have it.

    By the age of 3 (either that or it was six, I forget lol), one of us will have the brain size of a normal 13 year old. This gives us a higer neuron to misc-tissue ratio, increasing our ability to run computions.

    Now we’re going to go back in time a little bit here: Before civilization began, each indaviudal had to be capable of completeing every task on his/her own.

    Okay, now lets zoom forward again: We have civilization now. People no longer need to complete every task, or solve every problem. People just need to complete one task very well, and solve parts of problems. This leaves human phycology behind technology.

    Lets look at the ASD mind now shall we? We have the tendency to focus on the indavidual parts of objects, rather than the big picture. Further more, each one of us will have a specialty that we are born with. I’m, for instance, very good at math and science, and have exceptionally good visual thinking skills. Add this to my larger brain size, and I am born into a technical pprofession. I am a born specialist.

    Lets keep moving here shall we? Look at society, what do you see? Celebrities opinion’s on the econamy matter more than econamists opinion’s. What’s wrong here? Nuero-Typicals are hypersocial.

    Taking all of this into account, those with mild ASD are better fit to building, and controling society. For those that doubt this, please take a look at the following list of people that have had, or are believed to have had, ASD.

    Mosarc/Beethoven (Which ever one was the violen guy)
    Sir Issac Newton
    Benjamin Franklin
    Nicola Tesla (Please google this one!!! I love this guy!)
    Albert Einstein
    Howard hueghs
    Bill Gates (For proof on this one, look up how he released miquitos on everyone)

    Now, all of this is not to say that we are evolving this way for a reason. Human evolution is going backwards now actually. Over that past 10,000 years, or brains have been shrinking. This is because we let the weak and stupid live the same as the strong and inteligent (civilization). So technically, we are evolving spasmatically right now as there is no selective pressure to go in any particuler direction. What I am merely saying, is that this Genetic malfunction, may actually be a benafit.

    If this is hard to understand, we need only look to the past for answers about the future. Why can we speak and monkey can’t? We have a deformed monkey gene in us that makes speech possible. A deformity, one of millions, turned out to be a benafit, and spread through the population. THAT, is what I am proposing mild forms of ASD are.

  • trippin

    evolution i was watching an episode of star trek voyager where we evolve into amphibians in a hundred thousand years no thanks 😛 i had a wierd experience i had psychic dreams of the future mostly they were all wrong about what actually happened but i saw people in these few dreams that i had never met yet i saw houses i hadnt lived in yet people worked at a few jobs i hadnt met yet i saw cars i hadnt driven yet (guess what im trying to say is if i could see that does this mean that in 1000 years humans might be able to regularly be able to see the future?) guess theres a million reasons why this coulda happened but im thinking heavy vibration and sulphur (diesel fumes) and possibly mold (black mold) might have had something to do with it or maybe something paranormal well nuff said heh!!! lols /// one last thought is that evolution has occured because of accidents and mutations not just survival of the fittest or i should say the more prolific breeder yah and definitely anonymous thanks shouldnt have written this 😛 definitely was a scary experience though

  • Raymond

    In order to predict the future and what its people will be like with some accuracy, we have to understand the past. Among primates there is a direct correlation between brain size and group size. Primates share their habitat with other animals with smaller brains and those small brained animals are doing just fine. Some are even replacing the endangered primates. Intelligence via a big brain is a good asset to survive the natural world, but there is a limit to how much intelligence is required. The bigger brain the primates have is what they need to successfully navigate their complex social structures. The size of the group (which requires cohesion to be held together) is determined by the level of sociability each individual brain can handle. If the group gets larger than members ability to keep up, conflicts will break out which will split the group into smaller units. Nothing in the natural world our ancestors faced could have required a brain capable of algebra and calculus. The only thing that grew our intelligence so much was sexual selection due to the social pressures of living in groups of ever increasing size and complexity. Living in groups of ever increasing size and social complexity, that is what brought us to where we are today and that’s where we are headed. Most of our ancestors that lived in groups of about 100 individuals in a hunter gatherer arrangement could not imagine the world today in which we live. Nations of more than 100 million people were most will spend at least 20 years being school educated just to become productive members of a tiny sector of that society. 20 years, at that age our ancestors would have participated in every activity of their society, raised a family and had about a decade left to live.
    Following this trajectory, I see even larger and more complex communities in our future. I see a future were we call the entire solar system home not just earth. Space dwelling communities of 100 billion individuals living in societies so complex that up 60 years of school education per person will be the norm.
    People currently struggling with the “fast pace” of today will not be represented in this version of the future.

  • Mr. Stab

    firstly, “Thanks for the science, but she’s wrong.”
    correction: “Thanks for the science, but IN MY (your) OPINION she’s wrong.” Please pick your wording.

    “Even if the assumptions are correct, her evolutionary hypothesis doesn’t work: Mutations don’t have a purpose; natural selection works on individuals and not whole species; the rise in autism, if it’s even real, has happened in just the last 20 years.”

    I genuinely don’t believe that this is a recent development; rather we’ve only recently begun to realise the situation. bear in mind that prior to the past two centuries, we were pretty much in the dark ages regarding all aspects of health, especially mental health.

    no other species has had to adapt to the complex psychological constructs of our human society, and as such, over THOUSANDS (not tens) of years, it’s illogical to assume that society HASN’T affected our genetic structure in various ways.

  • Chad

    I was always interested to know how the human would evolve from a hunter/gatherer into what we are today. I think that our lifestyles have evolved so rapidly over the last 2,000 years or so, that Mother Nature is still playing catch-up. I do believe however that the recent rise in autism is due simply to the fact that we can diagnose it better and earlier. I am still waiting for the first wave of babies to be born without their little toe (like my Biology teacher said was eventually going to happen).

  • Zana Renfrew

    Thanks for sharing such valuable information. I’d also like to let everyone know that if you visit my blog you can receive a copy of the audio interview I did with Dr. Michael Goldberg, renown autism specialist. He has helped my son tremendously and I’d like to share his methods with as many people as possible. Thanks. ?Dorothea

  • Vaughn

    There ARE many aspects of Autism. It’s a spectral disorder, meaning that there are many more parts of autism being researched. As for the “sudden” rise in autism, that’s only because it took the last twenty years for scientists to realize all the different aspects of autism. When it was first taken notice of, autism was diagnosed based on just a few criteria. Criteria, that has been found today to not only be inaccurate, but far too minimal. That was a child 1, not speaking. And 2, having a low IQ. Autistic children are not stupid by any means. And there are many that can speak just fine. The autistic brain is not less than the normal brain, but wired much much differently. Sometimes the way they’re wired can be beneficial in some areas and difficult in others. While one autistic child may have difficulty socializing and read social cues, they can excel mathmatically, creatively. I don’t mean to say that every autistic person is a savant. But there are certain things that they can do better than others.

    Also, autism is certainly not a brand new, ooh shiny condition. It hasn’t just started existing 20 years ago. Autism, as people are finding, has been around for hundreds of years. What has been discovered, however, is our understanding that it exists.

    Historians believe that the legendary Michelangelo was autistic as well. Explaining his unwavering ability to focus hours at a time at a project, rarely bathing, changing his clothes, and showed all the signs of difficult social interaction.

    Consider other strange moments that might’ve taken place in human evolution. The first weird human that fearlessly decided to come out of the tree and live on the land? Genius or autistic? Whatever the case, I’m sure that person was thought of as a freak, a socially inept weirdo that everyone else thought was crazy or stupid.

    Then what about the nutjob who started banging rocks against other rocks for what seemed like no reason at all? Perhaps he did it all in repetition? Maybe he had some strange tic and needed to do that? But then look what happened when flint was banged against iron!

    I think you see my point.

    All during human evolution, there was usually a spike of significant knowledge brought about by at least one individual. The one that climbed out of the tree, the one that began walking on two legs so to have use of the arms to carry food with, the one that banged iron and flint or rubbed wooden sticks together. Sure, maybe it looks pretty genius to us now, but I’m sure those individuals were thought of as the odd-balls who had something “wrong” with them and it needed fixing.

    I’m not saying that all the historical spikes in knowledge were the result of autism, but I can see how those witnessing such things would lead to the thought the person behind it was a freak that was broken. Humans tend to lump atypical and abnormal things into a category labeled under “bad.” This guy is weird, so there must be something wrong with him!

    We call autism a disorder because to us, it makes people strange. As social animals, we see anti-social behavior as a problem. We see repetition as nuts. While there are some handicaps involved with autism, it could simply be that all the kinks are being worked out. The humans who eventually stood on two legs probably have a difficult time with it, but as things progressed, it became fluid and graceful.

    Humans developed as social, tribal creatures because back then, it was necessary for survival. There was safety in numbers and pair-bonding was symbiotic and necessary for survival of the offspring.

    The world is a different place now. More and more we’re left safely alone, allowed to concentrate, to think and invent and grow as a species. Evolution has always been on a need-to-be basis. There isn’t quite a need as before for tribes. And in fact, the custom is becoming a problem due to overpopulation, crime, and disease that thrives in localized conditions. Our brains are now becoming rewired towards concentration, anti-socialism, and, as a side-effect, strict routine.

  • Josh

    There is some very bad science in many of these comments.

    First, evolution is unthinking. It does not consider what is the best path nor does it plan anything. The process of evolution is to try as many things as possible with most paths resulting in dead-ends and a few managing to various degrees to continue. Evolution is the process of elimination to discover what is left.

    Second, it is perfectly reasonable to suspect that the Autism spectrum may be part of the evolutionary process. As we’ve developed more effective technologies to compensate for base physical needs, mental evolution in the form of information storage and processing ability becomes the greater need. Those with these skills in abundance are recieveing better jobs, higher pay, and thus more resources required in the modern world to survive and thrive. Don’t forget that very often those with Autism, especially Aspies(People with Asperger’s) possess significant mental ability.

    Third, Vaughn is correct. You can’t cite the difficulties Autistics have as a proof against the notion that it is evolution at work. If this is evolution then consider the possibility that what we are witnessing are the first stumbling steps in a new human direction. During the first, or prototype, stages of a new evolution it is not at all unreasonable to see incomplete versions before the final model is presented. Perhaps what we are calling autistic disadvantages are just part of the conflict between old and new.

    Josh L.

  • Watseli

    It is a simple thought to think that food sensitivities are proof that autism is not evolution, which I’m pretty sure we all know by now IS just that. You go spend your time eyeballing your neighbor and touching all over one another, sharing spit and basking in your mind-meld. See how much gets accomplished.

    If not for autistic people, we would all die. If not for the honest people, you would choke on your own lies.
    Antisocial behavior is a beautiful thing.
    I appear thin to others, and weak. I am stronger than most of them and can perform tasks that do not appear possible, shocking those around me… I do not get ill, and do not age normally, tire during work activities or suffer from slow healing. Despite an occasional nerdy disposition, I possess the ability to be more lovely, more graceful and generally better at things than others, not requiring help or teaching, given I practice to control and coordinate my motor problems ( kind of like Marilyn Monroe). Who cares is tying one’s shoes are a burden? Get an NT to do it, for you. I did!
    It may seem as though sensitivities make you weak, but any scientific mind knows that the more complex a species becomes, the higher their survival needs become to balance it.
    A cat for instance is made to eat meat, where a dog is made to eat trash. One is a predator, the other is a tool. Tools eat junk food. See what I mean? Kids that are sensitive to junk are SMART kids, not the other way around.
    Beans, dairy, packaged/dyed/poisoned crap, sugar, corn and gluten/many grains are for tools. Simple as that. We left those lamos in the mud to tend their corn alone when the hunter-gatherers split off to do what we were made for. They tried to fight us but they were weak from eating grains and sitting around all the time.
    Other powers I possess are the ability to hear thoughts, to see a person/ animal causing violence before it happens, the ability to know when a person has died, when a baby is born, and to know personal details about people and my own life before they occur. I affect lights when focusing, and occasionally other machines, though I don’t know how much of an ability that is. Also remember three past lives. My younger sister is now also seeing things before they happen and it is quite the exiting time for us.

  • Watseli

    As for being more successful, I know we have the capacity to take over the world, because it has already happened in many respects. Even the guy who created Pokemon was autistic. Scary, I know.

    Success for the autistic individual does not seem to be the issue in the long run, though it may seem so initially, more so the problem being that is seems improbable that they will develop powers without them being taken advantage of by a more sinister personality (I’m thinking about Einstein’s theories, here, and the theories of many other autistic people that have been abused/ blown out of proportion).
    Many of those with autism do not understand the full extent of their powers or see why a loner would suddenly advance so quickly, and when it does happen, they are not morally or pragmatically prepared to deal with their potential and instead display naivete or carelessness. Others truly are psychotic, and some are simply exploring the realms of reality, gleaning as much knowledge as possible, becoming like walking museums or natural scholars. Where others may cheat on a test or ask a person how they are just to be polite, a person with autism REALLY wants to know and that drive and dedication eventually leads them to positions of power.

  • Sammie

    I agree with you Simon.!!!

  • fearlessleeder

    I’m coming to this article late, but have to take issue with the statement , “And most of all, there’s the sex. As one character actually points out, it’s only an adaptation if it makes you have more kids, so a literal human connection is essential.”
    Um, have we not been discovering (now that the veil of Religion has been pulled further off our eyes) that homosexuality and other non pro-creative methods of sex are ‘triggered’ in mammal groups that are risking over-populating their environs?
    Besides, my autistic son is VERY interested in sex. He draws constantly, and has been drawing women naked since he was six. He now draws clothing on afterwards and gets erections before he does. His condition has not diminished his ‘desire’ to breed. I believe that the lack of social mores has only increased the likely-hood that he may engage in sex before being ready, if not watched and guided.

  • Tom Lawson

    Check out the website It contains an interesting article that discusses the adaptive qualities of autistic thinking. It seems to imply that autism is a different, but equally valid step in human evolution – a mind state that gates social distracters out, so that the mind can be focused on nonsocial activities – like foraging.

  • Mike

    I have AS and what that means is that I’m better at certain things than others. Highly functioning means i can function just as well as everyone else, i just don’t spend 95% of my day on facebook or twitter, there is no benefit in that. I have 2 kids and my son (as it seems to be a mainly male thing) is ridiculously intelligent for his age. (ABC’s and 1,2,3 before 2 he can take a flashlight apart and re-align the batteries correctly and put it back together just to name a few things)

    I do very well financially because i can think outside he box. We have to see things for what they are and not what society says they are. This is a huge advantage. I can cut right to the problem an bypass all the glitz and glitter than others get confused by.

    On the other hand my wife has had some difficulty dealing with my “obsessions” but she seems to filter out my rants about certain topics and humor me. And because of this we work well together.

    I played sports in school and can socialize very well assuming i have an agenda (a purpose for socializing). Without any personal gain motive I just fade into the background socially as I don’t seem to enjoy “small talk”. If i want a job or a connection i can be charming and friendly, but only if im interested.

    So why is Autism the next step? With technology we have very little use for any new physical traits, being bigger and stronger isn’t going to get us anywhere. We have nowhere to change but inside. Life and the world is tricky to navigate largely because of social noise from advertisements, and trying to keep up with what your friend from 3rd grade just ate for breakfast. (what good is any of that?) Wouldn’t it be great if we could just flip a switch and kill all the noise? Autism is a cure for this, it’s the red pill.

    • Pain

      sir u were misdiagnosed as A.S. when you seem to be psycotic.  Sorry

  • Taylor Archer

    I think autism is linked plastic myself. Autism wasn’t even mention prior to the introduction of plastic and other oil base pruducts. Some say autism was a direct result to vaccines but I would disagree. The first recorded case was in 1943 around the same time Dupont began producing petroleum based pruducts. The fumes that these products create as they are melted into molds cannot be good for an unborn baby. Only problem in all this, the autistic child is more likely than not to be a male. Like some input???

    • Barbara Finlay

      Female autistic children are equiped to handle ’emotional’ and ‘sensory’ over loads genetically better than males due to estrogene fluctuations…men don’t do well with anything of it’s nature. Hence, even though the numbers indicate males are higher in numbers, females cope better with the same situation.

      • Barbara Finlay

        Also, I am autistic and we didn’t use plastic when I was a child…even milk came in a glass bottle.

  • naali

    Well, I have thought of this before too and searched to see if anyone else had…I don’t believe that ASD folks are truly unable to connect with others. What I mean by truly is that human socialization currently is rife with dishonestly and that to suceed you need an ability to be dishonest and insensitive-to play the game. People born with an increased sensitivity are traumatized by what is being required of them and it’s possible that this trauma happens at a very young age, causing them to express their distress intensly. ASD people have increased sensitivity to pollutants, allergenic and non ancestral foods, perhaps too antibiotics and vaccines. They are more sensitive to stimuli such as noise and get overwhelmed by crowds. But I have read of studies showing that it’s untrue that they can’t recognize emotions on people’s faces. They just don’t respond conventionally (which is to say as we are often required to do, dishonestly) . We all know, right, that “correct” response to people is societal and doesn’t really exist. Aren’t Asperger’s people brutally honest? That’s not the same as unable to recognize emotions. It’s the same as not being able to lie or “play the game”. And actually that game is a bunch of BS. It makes sense to me that asd people suffer-i am one-this society is no place for a highly sensitive person and i know i personally just don’t have the kind of brain which can conform and learn to play an utterly useless and soul sucking game-i spent most of my life trying, to no avail. I continue to be my highly attuned self with visual thinking and suffer everyday from environmental stimuli which humans were never intended to process. I do think this is true-that this is how humans are evolving and it’s because sensitivity to an actually intolerable situation makes total sense-if people had this kind of inability to deal on a lager scale we would not be creating such an unhealthy world. And Oh yeah I know that people w/ aspergers are often incredibly talented at creating destructive technology. I want to say that most of the stuff i’ve read from autism support groups focuses on placing autistic people in a functioning role so that they can be contributing members of society. This does not focus on the autistic person’s true well being or talents but on their conforming to society where there might be a place for a geeky person to fit in-like in a cubicle in front of a screen. Instead of looking for tiny square niches in a world of BS people need to ask what asd folks really need to be happy as themselves.Also savant abililities could be directed toward creating sustainable technology but i wonder if the people mentoring them are just to often being like-fuction and make money however you can that’s what matters. to that mom-you wish your kid was not autistic-have you thought of how painful it must be for someone to exist in a culture so not made for them? Maybe you should think of wishing that society wasn’t so twisted and could accomodate someone like your child.Oh yeah, and I’m a mom too-even this geek managed to get knocked up. this article is descriminating and offensive and you(the author) are the insensitive a-hole that i hope becomes extinct.

  • LexingtonGA

    all you people who say evolution occurs over these large sums of time, were u there, honestly, can u say theoretical is the same as reality. we don’t fully understand evolution or how long it takes autism might very well be what the lady says, although it might have been to make herself feel better but autistic children have no real disabilities, and have amazing understanding of things the masses don’t even touch upon. I also believe from hear on out evolution will happen for the benefit of the whole, the planet. but this could have been avoided buy simply figuring all this out a bit earlier instead of trying to make money, take land and breed. im sure our next evolution will also be a understanding of the things we take for granted but even buy now its too late, too much damage done to this planet for it to continue not seeing us as a threat. and religion plays a big part in blinding humanity of these simple yet untouched subjects.

  • LexingtonGA

    i used to babysit autistic infants, and let me tell you they are much smarter at much more complicated matters than normal kids, they are also a handful..

  • HappyAspie

    Just because our society focuses so much on the social difficulties of autism doesn’t mean that that is what is central to the condition underneath it all.

    I imagine if you went back in time and tried socializing with our closest ancestor, Homo Ergaster you’d have some serious problems understanding him. Any differences in sensory processing is going to cause different beings to grow up and develop differently and have more trouble understanding each other. The proto-Homo Sapiens would’ve seemed “autistic” to the last of the Homo Ergaster.

    There is a theory of evolution that says that evolution occurs in leaps and bounds. Consider all the changes that have been happening in recent human history. Look at the past couple hundred years and compare it with the history before that. Politics, society, technology, everything is rapidly changing. It makes perfect sense that with all these changes would come vast changes in genetics.

    They think many of America’s Founding Fathers, and many leading scientists have had autistic traits. These individuals certainly had an advantage when it came to choosing a partner, and at obtaining wealth and since wealth in one generation tends to secure it for future generations the cumulative effect over the years is for these individuals’ “seeds” to spread far and wide. Some studies show rich families are more likely to have autistic children.

    The media focuses on sob stories, but many autistic people live successful, normal(or extraordinary), and productive lives. I have Asperger’s but I am in college, heading for a lucrative career, and socially I’m not doing that bad either. The only real signs of autism are that I take things very literally, I’m often asking people to “run that by me again”, don’t always grasp context but it’s all in a way that seems “funny” rather than off-putting. The other signs are my great intellectual giftedness and talents.

    I can see extra colors(ultraviolet and infrared, you know how snow will appear “whiter-than-white” in the sun, instead I see a more violet-than-violet glow coming off of it), and I can smell colors. Infrared has a spicy smell to it. Ultraviolet is hard to describe. Regular violet is like lavender. Regular red is like roses. Blue is kind of like the ocean. Yellow is like bananas. Not all of us can do these things, and some non-autistic people have these traits but these things are more common on the spectrum.

    Cure? I make normal people jealous with how I think and perceive the world. I bet people are jealous just from reading this post and wishing there was a cure for normal.

  • R. Metzger

    One day it will be all obsolete. We will no longer be at the mercy of chance in evolution. With inroads made in understanding how thought processes work, in understanding what does what in the human genome and nanotechnology, we can control the direction of our evolution. Cancer is cells dividing out of control. But if we could use it to combat cell ageing, dying of old age will be a matter of choice. People who are autistic can make a choice to unlock their full potential, and so do the non-autistic. Even now paraplegics can choose to have robotic limbs, in the future we could be enhanced with nanobots to superhuman levels, see further, run faster, able to solve delicate problems with ease. Technology is our evolution. Disorders, physical or mental, will soon be a thing of the past.

  • Jdcremin

    Most autistics excel in some field – surfing, math, music.  If the mutation is beneficial, that trait will be passed on and expand. If one with autism mates with a normal person, the offspring could inherit the new skill but be normal socially.

  • Guest

    Your understanding of evolution seems a bit off base. Autism IS probably an evolutionary step, or “over-step” to be more accurate. Like you said many genes make an autistic person autistic. All of these genes have been being passed down through many generations. Many of the intellectual benefits an autistic child possesses their parents possess to a lesser degree. Many of these ‘benefits’ are evolutionary benefits that have made the parents more suitable mates. The problem is that the autistic child got a few too many of the wrong genes and is unable to socially function. They unfortunately will not be chosen as mates and the selection process continues with millions of others until the right combinations of the right genes occur and those most “suitable” reproduce and the rest get weeded out unfortunately. Along with autism, most other psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar, are thought to be evolutionary “over-steps” as well. We can expect our future species to be incredibly smart, creative and telepathic!

  • Guest

    True, in the near future, technology will render our physical disorders obsolete. Yet, these mental “disorders” occurring right now are really intellectual evolution. And in the more distant future, we will become so intellectually powerful, technology itself will be rendered obsolete.

  • Ree

    I was just thinking the EXACT same thing.

  • Pain

    I believe that autism is the first real eveolution of the juman mind in many many years.  I also believe that vaccinations are the cause of this.  I dont believe that just vacinatiting babies is the cause but vaccinating the parents and their parents.  Then it is obvious that we are the cause of this change to ourselves.  We have created a world where human children require no natural defense mechanism whatsoever.  Their minds are now growing into something more beautiful then before children were allowed   they dont need to feel the need to conform or know anything though i do believe their will be a way eventually discovered that willl make it possible to reach them and use these beautiful minds and their extraterestrial senses they have developed.  But in the end all I have to say is they are beings of a true innocents and I am jealy

  • Jim Vitale

    This is not only the absolute reality but the biggest missconception or deceptive information ever pushed on intellegent people of the world. Unfortunatley most people are so pre occupied with there superficial selves that they choose not to recognize the evolutionary progress of man kind. It’s just like to society to ignore and down play god’s natural proccess of progress. If science can’t recognise the obvious cycle of evolution based on the progress of technology then maybe uneducated ignorant individuals of the world like me should be calling the shots when it comes to rsearch. That’s enough anger and outright disappointment for one post your comments are welcome. P.S. Ihave a 5 year old PERFECT Autistic little boy, and I use the lable Autistic as the ultimate compliment in antisapation for the great contributions he will bring to this world of smoke and mirrors. Thx

    • Nancy Mac

       I hope you don’t teach your son how to spell.

  • Theokan

    There’s a reason why people with Autism have a hard time understanding our social behaviors even though they have a superior and more evolved brain.  Us humans are not born with the capability to understand social behaviors of apes even though we were evolved from them; without proper education, we don’t know which ape is the alpha male, which ape is supposed to get the spoils, which ape gets the female, which ape does the dirty clean up work, etc..  If Autism is the next stage of evolution, it would make sense that they were not born with the capability to understand us at a social level, and would not know how we function in our society unless they are educated so.  If centuries from now the world is inherited by autistic human, the “normal” people would be the ones that wish we can actually connect with them at a social level.

    • someguyimet

      It’s an interesting thought, I mean alot of the social norms that society has come to adopt are deeply irrational and only serve to complicate our already pretty complicated lives. I’m not saying a world where most people have autism would necessarily be some kind of utopia, but it would most likely get rid of some of the problems we face in society.
      It’s likely to never happen of course, but the thought IS pretty interesting.

  • Guest

    There is proof that we are evolving at a rapid space in time. Our DNA is going to be different after the 12.21.12 changes occur. I fully believe in my heart that Autism is a blessing and not a disorder. It only comes across that way to us all because we all are experiencing this illusion of reality at a low vibrating consciousness.

  • Shootnforthestarz
  • Jacob Michael-Glenn Evans

    This article is more of a subjective retort then an actual look into the science of the issue, and the possible direction this mutation can take in the human race as it evolves. Not to mention how humans evolve is no longer going to be based on purely survival of the fittest in the wild dynamic, nullifying most of what this says anyways. As for autism “if it’s even real…” are you serious can anyone even consider themselves a scientist with that way of thinking, its pompous and arrogant, also (here)[]

  • Yashbhatt215

    Your conclusion is irrelevant, you are comparing Autism to physical evolution. Autism is mental evolution. As us humans have mastered survival there is no need more anymore physical adaptations. However mental, i think yes. Autism is evolution.

  • Aileen_22

    Extinction is the next stage of human evolution.

  • Cooper

    I don’t see the lack of emotions that autistic people experience as a deterrent for procreation. If anything it would be an advantage for the species diversity to not emotionally chain yourself to one reproductive partner for your entire life. I have a feeling emotionless people would still have the base human need to have sex.  

  • Spybot

    Autism playing a role in evolution is a very real and
    possible occurrence. Human emotions encompass insecurity, among other emotions…all
    of which can create a hoarding process called greed. If people used just data
    they could probably calculate the demise of our planet with a lot more accuracy
    and reevaluate their objectives for energy and profit. Also, with
    overpopulation, there will be a moment when our own growth, as a species, will
    be compromised, almost like the increase in autoimmune diseases. I personally believe
    humans are not evolving fast enough. If our planet is suffering, to balance
    this out, humans must slow down and have more reasoning. Like an autoimmune
    disease, our own bodies will evolve and fix the problem. Lacking emotions, we
    will slow down reproduction and allow the world to heal. Autism being a part of
    evolution is very real and makes total sense.

  • Timothy Leo Ernest Crowe

     Jessica Ruvinsky  has a very limited imagination considering the possibilities of human potential! Probably because she has no kids and therefore no valuable genetics worth of   species perpetuation. The parents of all Autistic children have reproduced and there for given autistic children the species perpetuating traits that developed into Autism. Additionally as Autism Speaks perpetuates, Autistic individuals are very social… with each other!

  • dungone

    Adaptation isn’t just about individual survival, it’s also about group survival.  It could very well be the case that groups of people who have more autistic babies gain advantages over groups who don’t.  So if a mother has 2 children and one of them is autistic and becomes a brilliant computer programmer who increases the family’s wealth, this could in the long run increase that family’s long-term survival without requiring numerous offspring.  Human babies require intensive care from their parents – they are not like crocodiles that hatch out of an egg and go out on their own.  The more children that a mother has, the less she is able to take care of each one.  Hell, it could even be the case that an autistic baby increases its own chances of survival by requiring even more intensive care, which discourages parents from having more babies.  So it could be good for its siblings as well as for itself.  It’s also fallacious to assume that autistics never have babies – they just have a more difficult time of it and probably have them much later in life than more socially adept people.  But if most people stop having kids after 2, then there is no disadvantage to being autistic – in fact there is an advantage because by waiting longer, they are able to save up more resources for healthcare and gain vital life experience to raise it intelligently, thus giving their baby an edge.

  • Laurenknuckles

    Here is my issue with your hypothesis.. The “diagnosis” of Autism has increased in the last 20 years but think about all of the things we have discovered and diagnosed as individual illnesses/disorders in the last 20 years and I think you will have your answer. Let me just say as someone with autism…. It’s like owning a car that is red and suddenly(!!!) you see dozens of red cars on the road. Red cars MUST have become popular around when you bought YOUR red car or else you wouldn’t have noticed them. Just because science has brought something to your attention RECENTLY doesn’t mean it hasn’t been around since before you classified it in a certain way.

    • Barbara Finlay

      The red car thing may be something a typical mind may see…I’m not sure. But as for myself, being autistic, I, the last 40 years, have noticed a marked increase in autistic kids. There are a lot of kids that are autistic, but not going to doctors for diagnosis because they’re on the high end in regard to functioning. Also, their parents show signs albeit more mild. But quite a number of kids are learning to cope the increase in sensory sensitivities as they have friends just as ‘weird’ as they are. They are slowly becoming the new norm. Take a serious look around…watch kids at parks or school playgrounds (provided you have kids or someone may question your need to be there :) ). Why do you think they are capable of learning at accelerated rates? Lower functioning autistic kids are just as intelligent, they just got caught in the sensory overload area to the point of screaming and closing down. People are people and evolution affects everyone differently.

  • Notonyourlife

    What if nature has decided she’s had enough of us and that we don’t need to reproduce quite as much? Maybe it’s nature’s way of saying, “Get your mind on more important things other than sex now that you’re not living in caves.” And I don’t know how much this writer gets out but geeks are getting HUGE play these days, believe me, I’m a professor and an art geek. And wouldn’t it stand to reason that people who are only slightly ‘impaired’ wouldn’t have any trouble hooking up and getting some more of that play? Yo?

  • shayne

    As an autistic, I agree with Lucy. As an autistic, I have a signifigantly increased intelect and eidetic memory and, unlike most people, I’m not bound by things such as morals, emotions, social protocols, or a need for human companionship. In my personal opinion, the need to socialize and adhere to social protocols has ruined the human race.

    • Jack

      Correct your speaking next time you describe yourself as an autistic. You are not an autistic, but an autistic sociopath.

  • Laura Kincaid

    So then by that logic, would you say that Mexicans are the more highly evolved race?

  • bertvan

    If you believe the human race is becoming less conforming and more creative, then we are becoming more autistic-like. Not all attempted adaptations are equally successful, and some autistic children lack the resources to compensate for their lack of intuitive ability, and appear retarded.

  • bertvan

    The web site is the story of my autistic son diagnosed at a time when maternal rejection was regarded as the cause, and psychotherapy was the treatment. And the website address is


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