The first time I heard this theory, it came from my partner, many years ago. As usual, the threads of the same theory had been assembling in my head, too, but given my then-unknown tendency to separate thought from words/language, I could never quite express it. When he proposed it, however, this instantly sparked the union of those thoughts and words. I knew precisely what he meant.
Of course, neither of us made the connection to the Asperger’s/autism spectrum back then, but only because we didn’t know. We had barely heard the term “Asperger’s”, and we knew the word “autism”, but for us, it conjured up the same imagery that it does for most people today, and back then, that certainly didn’t seem to hold any resemblance to a higher rung on the evolutionary ladder. We seriously didn’t know.
What he had said, however, was that there had been certain people who were simply different. They had a unique way of looking at the world. They possessed a sharp lens, set to a different angle, that gave them a keen and unconventional insight into the world. And from this, they could invent something new, or vastly improve upon something that already existed. He had simply known that throughout history, there was always a handful of these “special people” that moved and shook the world.
And recent decades had seen an increasing number of them.
He and I now know the truth about–and the term for–these people: Asperger’s/autistic. I know that armchair diagnosis is an etiquette no-no, but sometimes it’s irresistible, and the more one knows about history, the more the theory seems to jive.
I was thrust into the world of Asperger’s/autism quite unintentionally, with the sudden inspiration to start screening myself after little gut-based voices started whispering, commanding me to do so.
Naturally, one of my earliest steps involved looking up the official diagnostic criteria. The next step was, as I’ve written before, to seek the firsthand words and perspectives of other people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, and obtain insight straight from the source.
What I found was nothing short of ground-shaking. I had indeed swallowed The Red Pill, and there was no going back, nor would I have ever wanted to. The Rabbit Hole I stumbled upon was too incredible.
People on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, in general, are amazing. Their writing reflects keen perception of the world, and unique ways of rearranging its contents into a semblance of order that makes much more sense than the default position.
Immediately, I saw it: an ultra-civilized world, where primal urges, hormone surges, and runaway emotions gave way to logic and sensibility that bordered–and often landed into–the über-cerebral.
The ancestral “thrill of the hunt” gave way to the quest for information. Herd mentality gave way to a parallel thought-wave I affectionately refer to as the spectrum “hive mind” (which is totally not intended to be a diminutive term). Even the overactive stress response common among people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum is reallocated and repurposed, now used in such a way that does not involve combat with others, posturing, or Chronic Competition.
Social graces are different as well, becoming more raw, honest, direct, and straightforward, made more efficient by doing away with all the muddy window-dressing so prevalent throughout the world at large. Thought processes became rightfully based in logic and common sense, while emotions detached and took a back seat. Even sexual attraction and intimacy, traditionally assumed to be a basic human need, became optional.
The “what if” game is usually shunned by mainstream society, dismissed as a time-wasting thought-train. Sometimes, however, it’s actually quite constructive. Let’s play…
What if – the enhanced sensory sensitivity we often experience is actually the result of an expanded, greater-developed system?
What if – our direct communication styles that are said to be so off-putting to the majority of the “rest of the world” are actually time-saving methods meant to conserve energy for higher pursuits?
What if – our desire for and reliance upon routine (anxiety-reducing effects aside) is another manifestation of the above?
What if – our “abnormally intense” interests are actually built-in assets to the world at large? What if they’re simply specialties or niches that need filling, and the only people who could do it “right” are those of the spectrum neurotype? What if our powers of concentration are the product of increased connectivity within certain brain lobes, necessary to take humanity through the next quantum leap?
What if – we don’t utilize body language, facial expressions, or voice inflection…because we don’t need to? What if we rely on a newer, more advanced sixth sense that so many of us mention having? What if our so-called “triad of (social) impairments” is actually the result the disappearance of or de-emphasis on the need for contesting with the world to mate all the time? Presumably, because we might have better things to do?
Participating in BS and drama seems to be a stark exception to our otherwise tolerant and cerebral rule. We’d rather think, create, and produce, rather than comparatively waste time with small talk. What if that is an underlying driver of the “lack of socialization” that we’re so often admonished for?
We already know that our “stimming” (“repetitive movement”) activities are massive and crucial stress-relieving strategies. We already know that much of the stress comes from interaction with a loud and intense world. What if the world is intense to us because the majority of its inhabitants are tuned to the frequency of a comparatively duller neurological set-point? And by comparison, our nervous systems are actually more finely and sharply developed?
Notice that the previous diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s/autism specifically exclude intellectual impairment (now, with the DSM-5’s merging of multiple classifications under a single label and its instruction to specify “with or without intellectual impairment”, this situation just got a whole lot foggier and although I give three cheers for inclusivity, I give just as many thumbs down for any hope of reaching clarity or insight).
Perhaps the Asperger’s/autism spectrum is a new evolutionary branch of the human race. The way I see it, many attributes typical of human nature are nonexistent. This doesn’t mean we’re not human! Rather, it’s almost like we could theoretically be super-human.
Systems and behaviors relied upon for every day life aren’t nearly so visible in many Asperger’s/autistic people. What is assumed to be missing, what are assumed to be deficits, may actually be irrelevancies to us. Kind of like having remnants of body hair in particular places that was once protective against harsher elements, but is no longer useful in contemporary life, and these days, most of us wouldn’t freeze to death if we shaved it off completely. Hell, we probably wouldn’t even miss it. In fact, it might even pose a nuisance to keep it around, and getting rid of it might bring welcome simplification to one’s life.
That’s how I perceive a lot of the customs of today’s world; I simply have little-to-no use for them. They weigh me down, merely unnecessary baggage that complicates matters. The way I see it, we’re not less than human; instead, we could, theoretically, be more than human…?
(Image Credit: Roger Dean)