Saturday, April 11, 2020

Autism: An Evolutionary Life Preserver?

One of the characteristics of autism is difficulties with socialization such as1

    • Difficulty understanding non-verbal communication, such as body language
    • Difficulty understanding when and how to appropriately respond in social interactions
    • Trouble developing, understanding and maintaining relationships with others

As a result, some children with autism get negative reinforcement when attempting to socialize.  Subsequently they learn to avoid social interaction.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have been instructed to “self isolate” or practice “social distancing.”  What if autism is the “self isolation switch” for the human race, a switch that serves as a firebreak against pandemics?  Maybe an increase in virus exposure (yes, including vaccines) has “flipped the switch” in anticipation of a pending pandemic.

Imagine that the most gregarious people ignore a directive to self-isolate during an even more virulent and deadly pandemic.  They contract the disease and then die in large numbers.

In Greg Bear’s “Darwin’s Children,” a retrovirus emerges that alters the human genome.  Genetically enhanced children are born.  But they are also thought to harbor contagions that will bring an end to the  race of “normal” humans.

Could autism be an evolutionary life preserver that saves the human race from the next pandemic?


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