On the Rounded Globe website, where edited works are available to download or be read online, a book entitled the Prehistory of Autism by Penny Spikins, Barry Wright is available. (The fact that the books available are edited is noteworthy in so far as they are not filled with typographic errors and other faults that self published works are apt to have.)
Were individuals with autism influential thousands of years ago? In this ebook we ask what technological and innovative skills, moral qualities and other contributions autism might have brought to human societies, and consider the archaeological and anthropological evidence for the influence of autism in prehistoric art and artifacts.
In light of our findings, we argue for a new perspective on autism spectrum conditions and their integration in modern society.
The book begins with an examination of the curious parallels between the artistic work of some contemporary artists who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and the works of paleolithic art which the authors claim as evidence of the integration of autistic individuals within the societies of that time.
The evidence for the existence of genetic factors thought to underlay the existence of autism is said by the authors to date from at least 100,000 years ago.
Also discussed are the manner the characteristics of autism could have been advantageous to hunter gatherer societies.
In the conclusion the authors note that:
Insights from the past have also lead us to argue for a new model of autism as a balance of skills and weaknesses which contributed an important role in the story of human origins. We argue for a new view, one in which we recognise that not only do individuals with autism needs communities but communities need individuals with autism.
Communities need traits of autism – because autism contributes a unique and valuable way of seeing the world, unique technological talents and focus, and abilities in imposing the rules and fairness that encourage cooperation. And at the same time, individuals with autism need communities – because communities provide support, guidance, complementary talents and a source of respect and appreciation.
If the authors are correct (I find them persuasive) the story of autism has been intertwined with the story of humanity from our very origins.