Wendy sent me a link to an interesting post on Echidne of the Snakes, which critiqued Simon Baron-Cohen's theory that assortive mating has led to the rise in autism.
In a nutshell, Baron-Cohen believes that women who have the autism gene find men with the gene in the workplace, and they make babies. They find each other in the halls of the university or in the lunch room at Microsoft. In the past, smart women were not marriage material. Hell, the nerdy type of guys who are making a bazillion dollars at Mircrosoft were not marriage material back then either. Now, not only are smart, nerdy people rich, but they are hanging out together and making babies. Babies who have problems.
Echnide finds this theory full of sexist assumptions and has an underlying criticism of smart, career driven women. I'm not sure about that, but I also don't like where this latest trend in genetic research on autism.
I'm quite sure that autism is a genetic disability. It may have environmental triggers, but nobody has really identified what those triggers might be. But beyond that, nobody knows what's going on. The scientists can't identify which genes are the autistic genes, because there are probably different genes or different combination of genes that lead to autism. Actually, autism may not be one particular thing at all.
Baron-Cohen came up with a lame test to determine if you have a systemizing type of mind. Systemizer people carry the gene for autism, but don't have the disability themselves, he believes.
This test is silly and horrible, not because it implies some criticism of career women. It's silly and horrible, because it makes parents feel bad about themselves.
A couple of weeks ago, some friends came over for a visit with a bottle of red red wine in one hand and mixers for margaritas in the other hand. The most social, fun-loving couple in the world. They love to tailgate at Jets games and go deep sea fishing with their gang. They also have two boys with autism. The mom is deeply concerned that her bad gene pool harmed her kids.
Baron-Cohen's test is a witch hunt for autism. It doesn't provide any useful information. Should people with systemizing personalities not reproduce? It piles guilt and shame on parents. So, I'm halfway with Echnide on her criticism of Baron-Cohen.
52 thoughts on “The Genetic Blues and Autism”
I think I agree with you. Echidne thinks the study is bad because if it were true than it would be a blow against feminism and working women. That’s ridiculous. It’s either true or its not.
And it is most likely not true because in the “olden days” almost every woman got married and had kids, because there wasn’t really much else going on. And if you’re a smart woman in 1880 and you have to get married, might as well try to hold out for a smart guy.
Now smart women get jobs and marry later and have fewer children because smart women have more options.
So, it’s wrong because it is factually wrong, not because if it were true it would mess up your politics.
“And if you’re a smart woman in 1880 and you have to get married, might as well try to hold out for a smart guy.”
Really? Isn’t much more likely just to be some guy who is single, has a tidy homestead, and comes along at the time you’re finishing up your trousseau? “Smart” might in fact rate far behind “hard-working”, “well-established” “church-going,” “hits the spittoon–mostly” and “relatively sober”. I think “smart” might actually go along well with a number of those qualities, but in the past it might be less valued than in our day as a stand-alone feature. With 8th grade education being rather a distinction, they didn’t have the huge sorting apparatus that we are so used to. The social circles were often much smaller, so there wouldn’t have been much grist for the sorting apparatus to work on. (Show of hands who met their spouse in graduate school or in other pre-sorted environment!)
For a vignette of quick frontier courting, see the story of the Mercer Girls:
I’ve mentioned this before, but according to a recent paper, the rate of recurrence in families with one autistic child is 13.5% and the rate of recurrence in families with two autistic children is 30%.
By the way, there’s a book I’ve mentioned here before that’s called Alone Together: Making an Asperger’s Marriage Work. It’s by a Swiss woman who unwittingly marries an Australian Aspie after a whirlwind romance and only discovers what the deal is with him after two kids, years of marriage, and lots of misery.
It’s a very emotionally dangerous thing to enter into a mixed marriage across the neurotypical/autistic divide, particularly for the neurotypical spouse.
Back three or four generations, my ancestors seem to have married their cousins. Which seems reasonable. Some of my cousins are hot and if I didn’t know any other women….
My point is that associative mating isn’t new.
Well, I didn’t read the Echidne piece, because I often get frustrated when people get upset at science for pointing out something that’s true, but really annoying (the example, most recently presented on an NPR piece, is the continued lack of information about when women’s fertility starts to decline and when it becomes highly unlikely that they can reproduce with their own eggs — late 20’s, 40, respectively).
My frustration doesn’t include the foolish genetic/evolution/psychological babble on autism, why men are supposedly better at math, gender tailored education, . . . .
Baron-Cohen’s work is of the second sort. He’s not presenting real biological data. He’s overlaying cultural beliefs and biases on fuzzy data (not just here, on associative mating, but on other Baron-Cohen theories, like the extreme masculine brain hypothesis of autism). He tends to take an impression, like sometimes men seem to miss social cues and sometimes people with autism miss social cues, and say “oh they must be the same.” He’s a scientist, so people assume that there’s more rigor there. But there often isn’t. It’s just bad science.
I disagree, however, that knowing the parental traits that might increase the odds of autism is useless information. We learn about autism that way, and that might be useful. Some people may choose to use the information in their reproductive choices, if it were actually solid. But then, I rarely think any information is useless. If it were, one should just ignore it.
True story of the sorting machine: I first met my future husband at a Catholic graduate study group at the Pittsburgh Oratory. During the discussion, he made a remark quoting Thomas Aquinas on suicide, and I decided that I HAD to meet him. Phone numbers were exchanged and the rest is history.
I’m pretty sure that was not how my great-great-grandma met my great-great-grandpa in the wilds of Western Washington in the 1880s (?). Great-great grandma was in her mid-teens, rather pretty, and was one of a tiny handful of eligible white women in the area. There was at least one other suitor after her (a friend of her father), but an old family letter says that that unsuccessful suitor was fatally handicapped by his social awkwardness and inelegant use of the spittoon.
“when it becomes highly unlikely that they can reproduce with their own eggs — late 20’s, 40”
Wait–do you mean that 40-year-old women are highly unlikely to reproduce with their own eggs?
Thomas Aquinas was against suicide, right?
(I’ve never actually been inside the Oratory. I was old before I came here.)
Well, it’s not “highly unlikely.” At 40, about 44% of women who are trying will have a live biirth. By 45, though, highly unlikely would be right.
I think “smart” might actually go along well with a number of those qualities, but in the past it might be less valued than in our day as a stand-alone feature. With 8th grade education being rather a distinction, they didn’t have the huge sorting apparatus that we are so used to.
If John’s a “carrier” for the autism gene, and your smart girl who finds him at the MIT grad student mixer, that’s one data point. But 100-year-ago John is still a “carrier,” even though he only has an 8th grade education. He just likely to fiddle with the tractor in rural Braintree now, or balancing the books at the five and dime, and when he goes to the barn dance he’s going to meet the bookish girl who reads Jane Austen, and not that other girl who is pining for the dashing captain of the cricket team.
If there’s less social stratification in town, that doesn’t mean that the match-ups are random. To the contrary, the birds of a feather are still going to flock together. If anything, it’s harder to match-up now. What about all of those “austism gene” carrier boys who come from families where nobody goes to college, so they don’t either? Where are they going to meet their nerdy girls?
“…and when he goes to the barn dance he’s going to meet the bookish girl who reads Jane Austen, and not that other girl who is pining for the dashing captain of the cricket team.”
Nah. In the situation I’m thinking of, there aren’t enough people. There isn’t a bookish girl at the barn dance and I’m not sure John likes going to the barn dance. John lives with his mother until deep into middle age. He does eventually marry, but only very late in life, too late to have kids. He loves fossils and natural history and has an amazing home museum. (By the way, I’m not really making this up–I really did have a cousin John (a contemporary of my grandfather) with roughly this life story.)
My parents had another country neighbor who lived for a looong time with his mother. He dated late in life (never married) and adored playing with heavy equipment. I mentally refer to this sort of possibly auistic personality as “Swedish bachelor farmer syndrome”.
In the sort of situation I’m thinking of, these guys do get genetically left out in the cold. However, interestingly, it works very differently for young women where they are scarce. Cousin John’s auntie liked to live by herself with a lot of different animals on her farm (which she obviously rather preferred to people), she was good at knots and puzzles and made her way in a man’s world early last century and–very importantly–she got married in her later teens and had four kids and eventually became the ancestress of quite a tribe.
I think typical age at marriage matters a lot. If you’re an awkward, late-blooming guy in an area where women are scarce and marry early, by the time you are on your feet and getting to be more of a catch in the worldly sense, the women around your age may be all snapped up and the new crop of girls thinks you’re a weird old guy. Later age at marriage helps to level the romantic playing field (right, Mr. Gates?).
Of course, in a time or place with a superfluity of women (like most colleges today), things would work differently.
I just don’t even know how one could generalize about marriage patterns. There were so many factors involved. I’ve been playing around with my family’s genealogy lately, and proximity seems to be the biggest factor, but who knows. And correlations between smartness and success are iffy to me. We’re obviously quirky/AS-prone on both sides (though on my side it might be more of a mental illness issue), but sheesh, a greater bunch of underachievers you’ll never find.
“And correlations between smartness and success are iffy to me.”
Yeah. I think diligence and not climbing into the bottle would be more important, particularly 100 years ago.
Diligence and sobriety are still necessary for success, but they’re not adequate by themselves–today you need to be smart, too.
On average, we’re older when we commence childbearing: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db68.htm.
Nearly three-quarters of the first births born to members of the 1910 and 1935 cohorts occurred when the cohort was under age 25, compared with one-half of the births to mothers in the 1960 cohort.
For women born in 1910 and 1935, having a first birth after age 30 was relatively rare (less than 10 percent of births) compared with close to 20 percent of births occurring to mothers born in 1960.
Women born in 1935 had the lowest “average” (median) age at first birth (20.8 years) (2).
I would assume that the more degrees parents accumulate, the older they both are likely to be when they marry or start bearing children. There does seem to be a correlation in autism with parental age. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/health/09autism.html
Actually, Simon Baron-Cohen didn’t invent this idea. It appeared here first:
The “puzzle” which caused people to consider assortative mating was the fact that so many couples in Silicon Valley were producing both Aspies and child with much more serious autism issues. Anytime you have a pocket of something — a region where the rate of that something is MUCH higher than the population as a whole (childhood cancer near Love Canal, for example), people who are interested in probabilities and risk are going to be drawn towards studying the unique characteristics of that pocket in an attempt to explain the anomaly.
I am the mom of two Aspies and one so-called “normal” child. My oldest is a violin prodigy with a photographic memory who does phenomenally well in school. He’s also social but odd, as was his grandfather, the physicist and medical school professor, and his mom (me), the statistician and social science professor.
When he was born, he had some breathing issues and he spent a week in the NICU. His “neighbors” in the NICU were babies who were born addicted to crack, thanks to their 15 year old mothers — who didn’t visit much. Even today, it’s an image which haunts me as I wonder how these little guys turned out once (and if) they were released from the NICU. I think that before we start discussing who should and should not be reproducing, there are a lot of people who might make the line-up before women who are systematizers.
AmyP: “Wait–do you mean that 40-year-old women are highly unlikely to reproduce with their own eggs?”
But of course NOT for all those celebrities who can reproduce singletons and twins at any age due to their extra.special.biology. No reproductive help for them – just lots of pilates and yoga and organic foods. That’ll solve any infertility!
I think celebrity motherhood after 40 correlates well with using 1) surrogate mothers, and 2) donor eggs.
I think Sandra had her tongue in cheek– that’s the story you get from the checkout magazines.
Sure, I got that. However, I do have college educated friends who would, when we were in our early 30s, point to the sort of delayed childbearing habits practiced by celebrities as a viable plan.
The problem with Baron-Cohen is that he takes Wired Magazine speculations and puts his imprimatur on them as a scientist (though it’s a collaborative relationship; Baron-Cohen reads wired an they read him). I don’t mind this discussion as speculation based on anecdotes and half-understood plausible theories. But to make it science requires a lot more specificity of hypothesis and and data.
I, personally, am not telling anyone (including the 15 year old) whether they should reproduce or not. But I would like both the 15 year old and the 40 year old to know what facts we do know.
Also, since I put the number 40 in there I feel like I do have to reiterate that 40 year old women do get pregnant and have babies. They are more likely to be infertile, but it is not true that 40 year olds can’t have babies the old-fashioned way. 45 years would have been a better threshold to cite, with a rapid fall off after 40. The main problem is women’s eggs, which start becoming less viable early and leave few viable eggs by 45. In fact, many 45 year olds can sustain a pregnancy, if they use donor eggs.
“However, I do have college educated friends who would, when we were in our early 30s, point to the sort of delayed childbearing habits practiced by celebrities as a viable plan.”
Oh my goodness.
“The main problem is women’s eggs, which start becoming less viable early and leave few viable eggs by 45.”
I remember hearing recently that the miscarriage rate for pregnancies at 45 is 50% (that would be with the woman’s own eggs).
“However, I do have college educated friends who would, when we were in our early 30s, point to the sort of delayed childbearing habits practiced by celebrities as a viable plan.”
If I were 30, now, in a high pressure career, and not wanting to have children yet (and had a partner, which I did, when I was 30), I would consider freezing embryos for later reproduction. Well, I wouldn’t really have done that at 30 (not just ’cause the technology wasn’t there, but because at 30, I wouldn’t have known how important children would be to me). But, looking back at my 34 year old self, I would have suggested that as an option in the mix, if I hadn’t decided to go ahead and have children instead.
It’s a better plan, biologically, than implementing a plan when you are 40. Some celebrities might be taking that option (I wouldn’t be surprised if Jolie has frozen embryos, in addition to the ones she used to make her latest babies)
bj: I’d like to see the actual success rates of these frozen embryos. If it’s anything like fertility treatment, the “it’s a piece of cake” of the promotion/advertising is often quite a bit different than the success rates of the procedures.
Many if not most of the women who are falling pregnant in their forties already have had a few kids (the pump has been primed, so to speak). Falling pregnant and carrying to term successfully after age forty is fairly rare if you have never had children before.
“bj: I’d like to see the actual success rates of these frozen embryos. ”
The success rate with frozen embryos in the literature appears to be around 30-40% per cycle, which is OK.
Really, though I suggest it, the candidates for freezing embryos probably isn’t the woman who is still doing a post-doc at 30. As far as I know, no one is really advertising the option, except for women undergoing treatment for cancer. Frankly, if you’re really ready to freeze embryos, you might well be ready to have a baby. I think I’m suggesting it as a more reasonable option than planning on doing IVF when you are 42, which has a really low success rate (if you want to use your own eggs), not as an alternatively to having a baby when you know you want one.
Also, I had thought that Jolie had actually said she used IVF, but it appears to be a rampant rumor, and so I feel bad about spreading it. I’m bugged that the celebrity motherhood stories spawn misinformation, but I don’t think that the solution is to encourage tabloid press to either reveal the truth or spread rumors.
“I’m bugged that the celebrity motherhood stories spawn misinformation, but I don’t think that the solution is to encourage tabloid press to either reveal the truth or spread rumors.”
Maybe the journalistic convention should be that these celebrity moms get their babies delivered by stork.
I’m with bj in being annoyed that Baron-Cohen’s non-science, wrapped up and presented as science, is somehow getting this much coverage.
Of course, it simply updates the blame game that the old “refrigerator mom” theory of autism used to invoke as well: it’s the fault of these pesky women for daring to reproduce. If we had let our men marry someone who wasn’t a risk of carrying, and stayed a spinster as we should’ve, wouldn’t that have been better for everyone?
Bah humbug and double-bah humbug to those people who say that autism is a case of extreme male brain. The level of stupid speculation masquerading as science from pundits these days is embarrassingly low-ball.
Total bull. Let’s look through history of very ambitious and accomplished men who married similarly ambitious and accomplished women. Charles and Emma. Eight kids. None autistic. That’s just a start. What about the Lavoisiers? (Sadly, too busy doing chemistry and were executed before they could have kids.) It is not unusual to find male scientists who had wives who helped or were equally accomplished. So, it doesn’t take genetics to figure this out, just a little counter-evidence from history.
But, about the genetics … I am no expert on this but I was under the impression that any genetic link to autism was most likely novel newly arisen mutations that are probably dominant and in a the genome heterozygously, and so they would not come about from this sort one-generation to the next assortative-mating mechanism. I would certainly want any science journalist to know genetics well enough to check into this and ask this nut-job if he understands genetics well enough to follow what I’m talking about. (Many psychologists don’t have adequate training in genetics, and neither do many doctors. What they have is just enough to make them dangerous.)
“Let’s look through history of very ambitious and accomplished men who married similarly ambitious and accomplished women. Charles and Emma. Eight kids. None autistic. That’s just a start. What about the Lavoisiers? (Sadly, too busy doing chemistry and were executed before they could have kids.) It is not unusual to find male scientists who had wives who helped or were equally accomplished. So, it doesn’t take genetics to figure this out, just a little counter-evidence from history.”
Are you sure that none of the kids were a bit quirky or eccentric?
I don’t know anything about the family life of the great scientists, but in our day, the academic family with an autistic spectrum child is rather a cliche.
My own genealogical study would suggest that the 19th century saw a fair amount of assortative mating, with geography not being a primary factor. Of course, opportunities for women were less, but preachers marry preachers’ daughters, railroad men marry railroad men’s daughters, schoolteachers marry schoolteachers (about the only profession with members of both sexes), Methodists marry Methodists, etc.
But Amy P. might be right, that the neuro-atypical were less likely to marry. I have several 19th century aunts and uncles like that, but it’s hard to be sure if they had Asperger’s or more severe problems. Or maybe they were gay.
Another thing–consider what an amazing thing internet dating and communication are for guys and gals who would have been the wallflowers at Ragtime’s barn dance. The couple that Ragtime envisions hitting it off might have been so very shy that they wouldn’t have even spoken to each other at the dance or had a chance to discover how much they had in common.
I’ve danced in a barn or two. Everybody is too drunk to be shy.
“But, about the genetics … I am no expert on this but I was under the impression that any genetic link to autism was most likely novel newly arisen mutations that are probably dominant and in a the genome heterozygously, and so they would not come about from this sort one-generation to the next assortative-mating mechanism.”
Yes, the current hypothesis is that autism may occur because of de novo mutations (actual in the germ cell lines, rather than in the child, I think, which is part of the explanation of higher rates of autism in children who have siblings with autism.). But de novo mutations could be cumulative, thus not conflicting with the hypothesis that traits could be detected in parents as well — they just wouldn’t be strong enough to produce “autism.”
“But de novo mutations could be cumulative, thus not conflicting with the hypothesis that traits could be detected in parents as well — they just wouldn’t be strong enough to produce “autism.””
Interesting. Does this mean that you can inevitably expect more autism as time goes by and mutations accumulate, or is there some limiting factor (aside from just being too weird to find a mate)?
I’m really glad my romantic success hasn’t depended on that sort of venue. I’d never have made it through an evening.
Everything is more romantic in a barn.
“Interesting. Does this mean that you can inevitably expect more autism as time goes by and mutations accumulate”
Not necessarily, because I think there’s a way for these types of de novo mutations to be corrected in the germ lines (i.e. actual correction mechanisms, but also a discarding of “bad” eggs/sperm). So a steady state could be maintained.
Although I agree that the idea of an academic couple with a ASD kid is a cliche, I’m not really sure of true clinical prevalence; one of the big changes on lots of things these days is knowledge about them
Say, for example, I know of one child on the spectrum personally, identified, but most of the others are on the Internet. But I spend enough time “knowing” those children that I feel like they are a part of my larger community, to some extent. Without the internet, I wouldn’t have known of these kids at all. And, kids are more likely to be diagnosed, and parents are more likely to be open about their diagnoses than in the past. That combination of features means that actually estimating prevalence, especially comparatively really requires a technical analysis.
Also, Silicon Valley did not spring full-formed from the Zeus’s forehead during the dot-com boom. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were fiddling around with semi-conductors in the Valley in the 1940s and becoming rich in the process. The dating options for men in the Greater San Francisco Metropolitan Area have always been better than three drunk girls in a barn (even for the heterosexuals).
I think any genetic theory of autism should have to take into account that the big increase is happening now, and wasn’t happening in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s. Otherwise, you’re left concluding that autism is caused by NASDAQ market values.
“…three drunk girls in a barn.” I’m pretty sure that I would have been one of those girls.
The dating options for men in the Greater San Francisco Metropolitan Area have always been better than three drunk girls in a barn (even for the heterosexuals).
That’s just not true for everybody. There’s probably something like a GINI coefficient for this type of thing.
“The dating options for men in the Greater San Francisco Metropolitan Area…”
In the Wikipedia Mercer Girl story I linked up above, in the 1860s, the natives of San Francisco attempted to persuade Mercer’s cargo of brides to stay in San Francisco, rather than continuing on to their planned destination of Seattle.
“I think any genetic theory of autism should have to take into account that the big increase is happening now, and wasn’t happening in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s.”
On the other hand, the past decade or two have seen tremendous advances in the understanding of the autism spectrum, and autism as a whole has a relatively short history of being studied or understood as a particular category. Wikipedia says that the term “autism” was coined in 1910, but of course for many years, that term only referred to low-functioning individuals. In the 1940s, Hans Asperger discovered previously unknown higher-functioning regions of the autism spectrum, but it took a very long time for his work to influence the world at large. Wikipedia says:
“Asperger died before his identification of this pattern of behaviour became widely recognized because his work was mostly in German and little-translated. The first person to use the term “Asperger’s Syndrome” in a paper was British researcher Lorna Wing. Her paper, Asperger’s syndrome: a clinical account, was published in 1981 and challenged the previously accepted model of autism presented by Leo Kanner in 1943. It was not until 1989 that his reports were translated into English. Unlike Kanner, Hans Asperger’s findings were ignored and disregarded in the English-speaking world in his lifetime. Finally, from the early 1990s, his findings began to gain notice, and nowadays Asperger syndrome is recognized as a diagnosis in many countries of the world.”
I’ve read a number of memoirs by parents of high-functioning autistic children (see for example Lise Pyle’s Hitchhiking through Asperger Syndrome), and my impression is that well into the 1980s or even 1990s, it would have been very difficult to get a correct diagnosis, even if a child were presenting with what we would now regard as textbook symptoms and getting serious psychological attention. People just didn’t know what they were looking at. There’s been tremendous progress during our lifetimes.
Recent review in Nature Genetics:
“Most of the time, mutations associated with autism are formed de novo in the autistic person.”
Properly interpreting this WRT to this weird mating hypothesis requires considering three pieces of info:
1. The meaning of de novo, which definitely means not cumulative. As clearly stated in a 2007 Nature Medicine pape on this topic, “de novo mutations [are] not present in the parents.”
2. They did not state, but one reason they may not pass to the next generation is that de novo mutations are somatic and not in the egg or sperm cells (germ cells) of autistic individuals
3. Only if 1 and 2 are ruled out is it necessary to think of whether these de novo mutations tend to be dominant, co-dominant, or recessive. The assortative mating idea only really makes sense if they are recessive or co-dominant mutations that are fully or partially ‘masked’ in parents.
A de nova mutation not being present in the parents does not mean they are not present in the parent’s egg/sperm. A more clear example is Down’s Syndrome, which is caused by a mutation in the mother’s egg — the mother does not have the mutation,
The CNV mutations people are finding in some people with autism are of the kind thought to have dose related effects — I.e more = worse. That’s another way for “assortative mating” to play a role.
Not sure where you are getting point 2 — is there data on the likelihood of an autistic parent having a child with autism? I would be quite surprised if the de novo mutations are not present in the germ lines — though I don’t know if this has ever been checked.
Although I think Baron-Cohen’s work is mostly rampant speculation, I don’t think the genetics of autism contradict it — what is known of a really complex system.
I have more than a passing practical interest in the genetic side. In my own family, there’s one diagnosed child in the younger generation, but then when you look up and down the family tree, you see very similar or related features in generation after generation, without it (yet) ever adding up to anything that would make living a normal, productive life impossible. I wonder if that’s just luck, or if it’s evidence of some kind.
The general scientific literature refers to the presence of autism that seems to “run in families” as well as sporadic autism, where there is no familial background detectable. So it’s possible to have both kinds of genetics happening.
I also think (and, here I’m speculating wildly) that I would wait another 10 years or so before becoming really confident of the CNV research. My take (as someone from the outside) is that the ability to detect CNV’s changed fairly recently (5-10 years?) and everyone is hyped about discovering something they couldn’t easy detect before. I other cases where technology has improved our ability to detect something, it’s taken a while for people to figure out that the exciting difference they can detect now doesn’t necessarily mean something important. I think we’re still in the middle of that process with CNV’s and autism. Eventually my guess is that a smaller set of the data will stand the test of time for relevance.
I’m way too amused to see that I’m getting Cabela’s ads on the 11d side-bar. I assume it is because of all the barn-talk on this thread.
yes.165. As so often happens, I tried 175, and failed so badly it made me wonder how 165 happened.
HPC/KB – 8:19 Rx. The first round took ~45 seconds – way, way downhill from there. Will did warn .
“Should people with systemizing personalities not reproduce? It piles guilt and shame on parents.”
Does testing both parents for the genes for cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or Tay-Sachs pile guilt and shame on parents?
There is a big difference between genetic testing for sickle cell anemia and these personality tests they give to parents of autistic children. The first kind of test looks for a recessive gene that does not have expression in the adult. The adult may carry the “bomb” gene, but doesn’t have it themselves. There is some guilt in that, too, but it is much more horrible when they say that not only did you give your kid a “bomb” gene. With these personality tests, they are saying that there is something wrong with you — some part of your personality is defective. Maybe it is some part of your personality that you previously considered to be an asset, such as an ability for mathematics. You would surprised by the number of smart women that I know that are concerned that their smartness is the result of recessive autism gene. Some of these women don’t even have children with autism. So maybe there is something to the concerns by feminists to this latest trend in autism research.
“…not only did you give your kid a “bomb” gene.”
Here’s a problem with that. I’m not going to express this very well, but we didn’t give some unsuspecting neurotypical child a “bomb” gene. Without those genes, there’d be a totally different child. This particular child is only able to exist thanks to those “defective” genes.
With these personality tests, they are saying that there is something wrong with you — some part of your personality is defective.
At present, much of the pharmaceutical industry is trying to convince much of the population their personality is defective. Too lively? Shy? Calm? Sad? We’ve got a pill for that…
And yet, much of our current technical society was created and built by people who are not good at small talk. Think of all the librarians through the ages who catalogued and recorded details about the books in their care. I could list any number of essential jobs which depend upon detail-oriented people who are comfortable working independently if needed. Most scientists seem to need to spend long periods of time in the lab, or off observing things.
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