I suppose the title is a bit of a swear word in that I don’t really appreciate it being used as a label against me.
While I suppose I’d be hard pressed trying to convince you that I am not autistic, considering this blog’s focus on tech and computer games. The truth is I have not been diagnosed with it up until recently. I think the medical system just had me under non-standard human, classification type D (as in “defective”) apparently that was enough for the government’s needs at the time. I jest, too much perhaps, but the truth is the part of my life when I was nothing but an autistic computer nerd was not fun, to say the least (remember, most of this was before the Internet). I don’t like to remember it, I suppose I’ve grown beyond it, thanks in no small part to some kind people and I’d rather be known for what they gave me, than for what I was before.
However, one thing that’s kinda been on my mind is the fact that the medical community feels so lost regarding the causes of Autism. And then there’s the conspiracy theorists. I must say I understand why people feel the way they do about it. It’s horrible to be witness to a medical condition of a loved one and having no answers you can understand. We tend to come up with our own explanations regarding reasons, but the truth is, we’re not medical professionals and the ideas we come up with are stupid and embarrassing, we just don’t realise that they are. I’ve made the same mistake regarding my own COVID complications, but thankfully then had access to someone who could explain them to me… If I can be that idiot, so can anyone else. We shouldn’t be insensitive towards people who get caught up in this.
I suppose the explanation for autism that motivated me to try and write this entry for, is probably also stupid and embarrassing, I just don’t know it yet. Or maybe it’s the answer, who knows. I am not a medical professional. I am not an anthropologist. I am a scientist by spirit, not by education. This blog is not a paper, it’s just my opinion. But, at the same time, I really wanted you — someone, to understand what I thought could be a reason for it.
I think, that autism is genetic. I think that in the distant genetic past of us humans, our large brains developed as a result of a need to handle complex social interactions of ever growing social groups. While very large groups still give us trouble, our brains can easily handle the social relationships between perhaps up to 150 people. I believe, that since the modern development of technology, some of these functions have become repurposed from handling social interactions, to handling the understanding of technology.
The selective pressures regarding the genetics that makes up our brains are thought to have ceased long ago, but I would argue they stuck around. Just like lactose tolerance is genetic and the selective pressures related to it have ensured that the majority of modern Europeans have this gene, which is a relatively recent development in evolutionary terms (in the last 10 thousand years) — so I believe has happened with the genes regulating our personality traits, which dictate how predisposed our brains are at different types of skills and interests.
I believe that the genes that give us predispositions for being able to be skilled with technology, make us less adept at the original purpose of our large brains — social interactions. I believe there have been selective pressures that favoured the survival odds and reproductive abilities of people who’ve been predisposed to tech skills and interests. This has led to genes for this being concentrated in newer generations of humans, which has led us to collectively become even less adept at social interactions and even more adept at technology.
Just look at some of the traits that seem common in people with autism: Preference to have objects lined up or ordered, sticking to routines or repeating tasks without variation, focus on specific parts of objects, obsessive interests, fascination with moving water, fascination with numbers, fascination with animals, etc. All of these are obviously traits that allow us to interact with technology (in the last 10 thousand years, most of our technology was farming and therefore water and animal powered). These traits allowed our ancestors to develop an interest in technology that in turn allowed them to survive.
What I’m saying basically, is that autism isn’t a medical condition so much, as it is a set of traits that we’ve been selecting for. Of course I’m not saying lower functioning autism is not a debilitating condition. I just think that in the modern school of thought, we are taught to think that in modern times the genetics of everyone is basically the same and irrelevant, but I don’t think it is. I think we differ genetically and that these genetics define our predispositions for technology or social interaction. I think autism is a genetic condition bred into us by our taking advantage of technology.