Yes, according to this theory, dyslexia is really not a disorder at all: It was always there for the exceptional individuals whose brains had an extra edge. We just never realized it, so when someone came up with all that "reading" and "writing" poppycock, the people whose brains dared to object were looking at a ticket to Disorderville.
Autism Made Hunter-Gatherers Hardcore Survival Machines
Let's get the scary stuff out of the way first: Autism diagnosis is at an all-time high in the U.S. One in 88 kids is diagnosed with some form of the disorder, and it looks like the numbers are still on the rise. We have no clear idea about what causes it (no, it's not vaccines). In the face of those numbers, it's easy to assume that our genes have finally thrown their hands up in frustration and skulked in the corner to hug their favorite bottle of bathtub gin.
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Wait a minute, science -- Jenny McCarthy has an idea.
Well, that, or evolution is just doing its thing and providing humanity with a supply of badass motherfuckers.
How It May Have Helped Humanity:
Experts suggest that autism never had to sneak past the survival-of-the-fittest checkpoint to make it all the way to modern times. Instead, it proudly marched through the gates with a saber-toothed carcass in one hand, casually clubbing the guards over the head as it went.
While autistic people often have trouble interacting with others, the condition also provided unexpected advantages for a hunter-gatherer: Namely, it switched on the badass parts of their brain. While most of our ancestors were busy hunting and foraging in groups, the ones on the autism spectrum preferred a more solitary lifestyle. These people were able to efficiently operate alone; the time and effort that others spent socializing and drawing crappy stick figures on cave walls were instead channeled into things like tracking, getting to know the terrain, and other Rambo stuff.
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Being alone is a fair trade for not having to share your ribs.
Affected people are also known to engage in repetitive activities like stockpiling food and supplies, a useful talent in a world where your survival depended on those exact things. Since they were strong, skillful, and well-fed, their lack of social skills presumably wasn't much of a hindrance when it came to procreation, either. But once again, the world mutated into a less-friendly environment -- a densely populated land where every daily task requires a conversation and every workplace promotion requires skillful networking.
Hence why showing your acorn stash is no longer a successful pick-up move.
But who knows -- you may find a world much more suitable to someone on the autism spectrum a few hundred years from now. Or possibly sooner.
Matt Moffitt has a blog here and a Twitter here. You can check out Himanshu's occasionally updated blog here, or join him on Twitter.
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Related Reading: Speaking of disorders, did you know our brains are programmed to support our crappy taste in products? Even something as simple as a baby can hack your brain with nightmarish results. And some movies reach the level of outright mind control. But hey, at least there are some ways to hack your brain for better performance.