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Autism May Have Had Advantages in Humans' Hunter-Gatherer Past, Researcher Believes
ScienceDaily ^ | June 3, 2011 | University of Southern California

Posted on 06/10/2011 3:13:11 AM PDT by SunkenCiv

Though people with autism face many challenges because of their condition, they may have been capable hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times, according to a paper published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in May.

The autism spectrum may represent not disease, but an ancient way of life for a minority of ancestral humans, said Jared Reser, a brain science researcher and doctoral candidate in the USC Psychology Department.

Some of the genes that contribute to autism may have been selected and maintained because they created beneficial behaviors in a solitary environment, amounting to an autism advantage, Reser said.

The "autism advantage," a relatively new perspective, contends that sometimes autism has compensating benefits, including increased abilities for spatial intelligence, concentration and memory. Although individuals with autism have trouble with social cognition, their other cognitive abilities are sometimes largely intact.

The paper looks at how autism's strengths may have played a role in evolution. Individuals on the autism spectrum would have had the mental tools to be self-sufficient foragers in environments marked by diminished social contact, Reser said.

The penchant for obsessive, repetitive activities would have been focused by hunger and thirst towards the learning and refinement of hunting and gathering skills.

Today autistic children are fed by their parents so hunger does not guide their interests and activities. Because they can obtain food free of effort, their interests are redirected toward nonsocial activities, such as stacking blocks, flipping light switches or collecting bottle tops, Reser said.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: History; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: autism; godsgravesglyphs; huntergatherers; prehistory
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1 posted on 06/10/2011 3:13:17 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
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2 posted on 06/10/2011 3:14:14 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Thanks Cincinna for this link --
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To: SunkenCiv

He may have a point but I don’t see it.

If he has real world cases existing in modern hunter gatherer societies he may persued me.

3 posted on 06/10/2011 3:32:55 AM PDT by Pontiac
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To: SunkenCiv
This idiot clearly doesn't have an autistic child. My wife and I have adopted two.

What color is the sky in this numbskull's world?

4 posted on 06/10/2011 3:35:57 AM PDT by 60Gunner (Ma'am, that is not a seizure. That is a dance move.)
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To: SunkenCiv

They had the advantage of knowing Kmart sucks before the rest of us did.

5 posted on 06/10/2011 3:40:58 AM PDT by edpc (I disagree. Circle gets the square.)
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To: SunkenCiv


And Down’s syndrome kids wove really intricate baskets and thats why they had an “advantage”?

Ok, then...that was real science! You posited an idea that was a piece of crap. Now go back and try again for another grant./s

6 posted on 06/10/2011 3:43:41 AM PDT by Adder (Say NO to the O in 2 oh 12)
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To: 60Gunner

I suspect the author means high function autism, ie something along the lines of Asperger’s Syndrome.

7 posted on 06/10/2011 3:48:25 AM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: Pontiac
This wasn't about "hunter gatherer societies" ~ in fact, quite the opposite. It's about adaptations that allowed "individuals", if not "societies" to be better hunters and gatherers.

It's the lone hunter thesis.

There are biologic models of this. Killer whales come in a couple of varieties. First, there are the pods ~ much like any sea going mammal society, the pods cooperate in hunting, have family lives and friends, and are "friendly" to others who own very large steel hulled boats with massive engines.

Then there are the solitary killer whales. They are not friendly. They will even attack boats!

8 posted on 06/10/2011 5:28:07 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: SunkenCiv

Only one problem with that........there is no evidence to suggest there was a hunter-gatherer past. The only record we have is the Bible, and it doesn’t account for it.

9 posted on 06/10/2011 5:29:35 AM PDT by Salvavida (The restoration of the U.S.A. starts with filling the pews at every Bible-believing church.)
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To: Adder

Not sure what part Down’s Syndrome would play in autism? They are not the same.

10 posted on 06/10/2011 5:29:57 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: SunkenCiv
Harmful mutations are actually beneficial ... yeah ... that's the ticket.
11 posted on 06/10/2011 5:31:54 AM PDT by dartuser ("Dealing with preterists is like cleaning the litter box ... but at least none of the cats are big.")
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To: Salvavida
What was that "mighty hunter" bit about then? Did you imagine Tubal Cain was out there leading a large body of men around on the Long Hunt?

BTW, the Long Hunt wasn't mentioned either but we know that's how the Iroquois and other American Indians handled the winter starvation problem.

Frankly, I think somebody just forgot to write it down for you.

12 posted on 06/10/2011 5:32:12 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: dartuser
Who said it's a mutation? We were probably all like that before the mutations that turned man into Mr. Friendly!

Land sharks baybeee, land sharks!!!

13 posted on 06/10/2011 5:33:28 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

It plays no part in autism. I was positing an equally absurd notion about the persistence of Downs.

14 posted on 06/10/2011 5:38:10 AM PDT by Adder (Say NO to the O in 2 oh 12)
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To: 60Gunner

One of my best friend’s son has Aspergers. I don’t understand what this author is thinking... not only does this child not read “social clues” but doesn’t fully understand the dangers around him. I have also seen children with full autism. I think the author is over-reaching.

15 posted on 06/10/2011 5:39:01 AM PDT by momtothree
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To: momtothree
There's a lady with autism who has become the world's foremost expert in what cows think.

She shares the opinion of the author.

BTW, she makes a good living with her skill since moving cattle around without panic is a major problem in this world. Her observations and recommendations have saved billions of dollars.

I doubt she's aware of con artists, but she probably would do OK in anticipating the moves of wolves.

16 posted on 06/10/2011 5:44:42 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: dartuser

It is not as crazy as it sounds.

People with sickle cell trait are significantly more healthy that those without the trait when living in a malaria endemic area.

The prevelance of the condition is high enough that exploration of benefits from the trait is reasonable.

17 posted on 06/10/2011 6:10:40 AM PDT by dangerdoc (see post #6)
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To: muawiyah
You're referring to Temple Grandin, an extremely high-functioning autistic person. I've never seen her express agreement with the OP's ideas. She thinks autistic humans have brain defects which disable some of the functions which normal humans have, making autistics think and feel more like higher mammals who never had those brain functions in the first place.

I highly recommend her books to anyone interested in animal behavior, real scientific psychology, and heroic effort to overcome adversity.

18 posted on 06/10/2011 6:11:49 AM PDT by hellbender
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To: hellbender
Thanks for the book references. I've read several interviews with her ~ which must have been very difficult to do ~ but it seemed to me she thinks there's some survival advantage to autism.

That's the writer's point.

Kind of like Heidelbergensis. They were among the first to bury their dead, but their immediate past ancestors were like animals and just left their dead behind.

19 posted on 06/10/2011 6:21:58 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: hellbender
BTW, yes, she is HEROIC.

We have a young friend with another form of all this ~ took him 25 years to learn to count but he learned. His ambition is to get a driver's license.

He is as aware of his plight as anyone is ~ and understands his limitations thoroughly. He is exceedingly heroic and works a real man's job ~ redirecting mail in a large office building using a computer.

My kids taught him how to use DOS commands back in the early days. That enabled him to load his own video games. Nothing stopped him after that.

20 posted on 06/10/2011 6:25:16 AM PDT by muawiyah
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