In this unusual book an evolutionary anthropologist and her coauthor/granddaughter, who has Asperger syndrome, examine the emergence and spread of Asperger syndrome and other forms of high-functioning autism. The authors speak to readers with autism, parents, teachers, clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, other health-care providers, autism researchers, evolutionary biologists, geneticists, paleoanthropologists, and people who simply enjoy reading about science.
Using the latest findings regarding brain evolution and the neurological, genetic, and cognitive underpinnings of autistic individuals at the high end of the spectrum, Falk theorizes that many characteristics associated with Asperger syndrome are by-products of the evolution of advanced mental processing. She explores the origins of autism, whether it is currently evolving, how it differs in males and females, and whether it is a global phenomenon. Additionally, Eve Schofield, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as a child, provides firsthand accounts of what it is like to grow up as an "Aspie."
"Falk's well‐written summary of the past several years of scientific findings in brain research, cognition, and autism within the context of human evolution is accessible yet thorough, and Schofield's insightful personal reflections add a unique twist for the genre, making this an entertaining, educational, and thought‐provoking read for scientists and general-interest audiences alike."--American Journal of Physical Anthropology
"A fresh consideration of autism in the context of human evolution and our strong social brains."--Fred R. Volkmar, coauthor of A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know
"This exciting interplay of an evolutionary perspective from a distinguished scientist and grandmother and an autobiographical perspective from her Aspie granddaughter contributes immensely to our understanding of Asperger syndrome as a valuable natural human variation."--Pier Jaarsma, Linköping University
"In this wonderfully engaging book, Falk and Schofield lead the reader through the history of research on autism and Asperger syndrome with discussions of current thinking about these forms of brain functioning, debates about terminology, and links to brain evolution. The authors argue that, rather than seeing high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome as neurological disorders, they are better perceived as illustrations of the high degree of variability in human brain function and as examples of neurodiversity. Each chapter begins with a scholarly examination of literature and research written by Falk, who is known for her work in paleoneurology, followed by personal reactions written by Schofield, who is herself an Aspie. This is an entertaining and educational book that should appeal to anyone who knows people with autism or Asperger syndrome and professionals from a variety of fields, including those who enjoy reading about science in general."--Wenda Trevathan, author of Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women's Health
List of Illustrations
Chapter One. Before Asperger Syndrome: Three Evo-Devo Trends that Made Us Human
Eve: My Obsessions
Chapter Two. Sensory Experiences: A Missing Link for Understanding Asperger Syndrome
Eve: Sensations and Fears
Chapter Three. Social Naïveté and Advanced Cognition: An Aspie Enigma
Eve: How My Mind Works
Chapter Four. Sex and Gender in Asperger Syndrome
Eve: Autistic Boys and Girls
Chapter Five. Geeks, Genes, and the Evolution of Asperger Syndrome
Eve: My Family
Chapter Six. Autism Rising: A World Perspective
Eve: About Bullies
Chapter Seven. Asperger's Garden: What Does the Future Hold?
Eve: Helping Your Aspie Child Have a Better Future