Is Autism the new normal?
“There is a new conversation among neuroscientists that the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be an evolutionary change of the human mind,” noted Julie Coates in a pioneering new presentation on Students with ASD at LERN’s Faculty Development Conference this spring.
One in 68 students is now on the spectrum, according to the Center for Disease Control. Coates says students with ASD are now “in our classrooms forever.”
In surveying the attendees, only about half of the participants indicated they have encountered a student on the spectrum in their classes. Coates responded that the other half of faculty participants almost positively had one or more students on the spectrum in their classes as well, the teachers just did not recognize the characteristics of ASD students.
The ASD Advantage
Coates noted the research indicating that ASD is polynomic, meaning many genes change. And autism is not self-selected out by the gene pool. Instead, humans with ASD survive and have positive traits.
ASD may be the new normal because the new environment of the digital age gives an advantage to a number of abilities of people on the spectrum, such as greater visual acuity, ability to think in multiple dimensions, greater spatial ability, bottom-up thinking, and frequently an ability to see patterns, such as in data analysis.
People with ASD are often highly valued in technology and related industries.
There is no one clear cause of autism, noted Coates. Experts think that autism is either increasing in the population, that it is being detected more readily now than in the past, or both.
Vaccinations are clearly not related to ASD, Coates said. Possible causes could be:
- Maternal stress during pregnancy
- Increased population on the planet
- Relatively new industrial particles in the air
- The age of the father
For information on Julie Coates’ outstanding online course with LERN’s UGotClass on Students with ASD, just click here.