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Increase in Autism

Apparently there has been an incredible increase in autism in the past several decades.  Part of the increase in undoubtedly due to better diagnoses and awareness.  But there seems to be no doubt that the numbers are going up.

Many things have been blamed; television, electromagnetic waves, increased chemical exposure, even air pollution, and especially vaccines.   Personally I think that some of these may trigger autism rather than outright cause it.  So what's the cause? 

Some have theorized that it is due to further evolutionary development of the human brain, a theory that doesn't go over well with anti-evolutionists.  New treatments and ways of handling the disorder are growing in popularity and naturally the earliest it is diagnosed, the better.  To many people's surprise, a seriously autistic youngster, thought to be retarded, when given a means of communicating, is often found to be normal or even superior in intelligence.

That brings us to another quirk about autism.  There's more than one level and more than one kind.  Most of us have heard of supposedly retarded youngsters or young adults, who have suddenly shown an ability to repeat any piece of music on the piano, even difficult classics, after hearing it one time.  And how about the formerly labeled "idiot savants", that for instance, can tell you what day it was when given any date, or can do incredible mathematical calculations in an instant?

That brings us to to Asperger's Syndrome, which falls into the autism category.  I recently became aware of this disorder, or ability you may say, which has been around here and there for centuries.  This can lead to a fanatical dedication to one particular field, or a very large number of abilities.  It is usually accompanied by social awkwardness and dedication to subjects which can be quite irritating to others, and often leads them to suffer from severe anxiety as they do not understand why they are "different". 

Here are some persons who undoubtedly had Asperger's, or in some cases strongly suspected to have it: Albert Einstein, Beethoven, Darwin, Alan Turig, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin...  the list goes on and on.  How much poorer our world would have been without them!  Read more at  Disabled World.

Next time you see a child with autism, or hear that a friend or relative has a child diagnosed with it, think before you pity.  The same goes for the neighbor, worker or other who is hopelessly awkward socially, or avoids speaking to you.  They may be the next major world development waiting to happen.

See this video about Asperger's.  You can even take a test to see if you, or someone close to you, has this marvelous yet mysterious handicap.  Also, read The Failure List.

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