The next step in human evolution? Give me a break! 

There is a trope that gets bandied about every now again. Not just by ” Shiny Aspie” and “Aspie Supremacist” types, but by prominent autistics such as Temple Grandin and non-autistics such as Tony Atwood. And it is the throwaway comment that “autistic peoole are the next stage of human evolution.”

I’m not even sure where to start with this one. I’m not a geneticist or an expert on evolution. But I did study it in university and I’m pretty sure I have a grasp of the basics. And I believe that trope is wrong. Very wrong. 

I can see why those people would feel comfortable throwing the trope around though. It’s got a nice ring to it. It makes them feel like somehow autistics are superior. That at last we have a good thing going on.  But, really, that’s not how it works. 

First, let’s look at an image that a lot of people think depicts “human evolution”:

It shows a progression, from left to right, of what looks like a gorilla, to a more upright ape, to a “caveman” style early human, to a “modern” white man. I’m sure you’ve already spotted the racism and sexism in this image so I don’t need to point it out. Also, early humans who wore animal furs are actually no different, genetically, from modern humans so I don’t know why that’s there. Unless the artist meant to depict a Neanderthal, but we haven’t evolved from them so that’s totally wrong. Though we, or at least certain humans, may have some Neanderthal DNA somewhere. 

These type of “progression” images are actually quite wrong. Evolution isn’t some orderly progression from more “primitive” forms to more “advanced” forms, with humans at the very end. That is not how it works. Evolution is driven by adaptations to the environment in which the organism finds itself. So, if a “modern” human found itself somehow back in time to when the ape on the left was found, the ape and not the human would be the creature best adapted to the environment there. 

For a species to evolve, there has to be an advantage (or at the very least, a neutrality) to the traits that are passed on through natural selection. Right now, yes, some autistics might have an edge to using technology. But that’s not enough of an advantage. Many non-autistics are also adept at using, designing and working with technology. Let’s not pretend that those are exclusively autistic traits. 

Those traits would have to also form the basis of some sort of selection criterion for mating. Given how so many autistics have trouble finding a partner and having children, I’m not sure this is the case. Yes, more autistics are finding partners due to the internet and technology. This is a wonderful thing. But even if we all started having a heap more children, and even if more of our children were also autistic, perhaps due to us marrying other autistics, it’s not going to make enough of a difference to lead to any sort of “human evolution”. And unless we segregate the different neurotypes and prevent them from having children together, there is no chance whatsoever of any form of speciation. Non-autistics are just too well adapted to this environment for any autistic genes to ever dominate. And autistic genes will always form only a tiny percentage of the overall human gene pool. 

Is our environment right now slightly better for us autistics than it previously was? Certainly. Has technology played a big part in that. Of course it has. But please don’t mistake those small changes with us now somehow living in an environment where there is an evolutionary advantage to having autistic genes. That will probably never happen. 

And of course, environments change. Things like a possible nuclear war, and the disruption that will come with climate change, mean that we have no idea what an ‘evolved’ human race may end up looking like. If we don’t go extinct first, the next evolution of the human race may look more like a creature that can tolerate extreme weather and perhaps a radioactive athmosphere. And can fight other creatures over scarce resources. And I’m not sure autistic genes necessarily confer those advantages.  


The Sensitive Zebra

I have started a new blog The Sensitive Zebra as I realised there is a lot I want to write about that’s of a more…sensitive nature. Yes, I mean NSFW stuff. I don’t feel comfortable writing about it here, in public as it were. So, if you’d like to follow me on my new blog, you can DM me on Twitter or leave a comment on this post, and I’ll see whether I feel comfortable with inviting you to read it. It’s still a bit on the sparse side right now. But should be some stuff on it fairly soon. As I do think about sex an awful lot! So, there you have it, two blogs, two zebras, same me though. 

Why I’m not an Aspie Zebra…

Before I started my blog, and while I was trying to find a name for it, I was part of a Facebook group called Aspie Zebras. I still am, I suppose, but I just never check Facebook these days. The group consisted of those who were both autistic and had EDS. 

Obviously, I couldn’t just copy their name as is. Who ever formed the group first, thought up the name. But, even if that name were available to me, I just didn’t feel comfortable with the Aspie part. 

When my son was diagnosed, and before I was fully aware that I was autistic myself, I used to refer to him as an Aspie. It’s a nice short word that rolls of the tongue. And even then, identity-first language just felt more natural to me than “has Aspergers” or “is on the spectrum”. As you may have noticed with my writing, I like brevity. 

I used to think that my son, being an Aspie, was so different from my cousin, who is “classically autistic”. And even though my son’s diagnosis was formally “ASD” as his assessment team use the DSM, I could not help comparing him and my cousin. I foolishly thought comparisons were warranted. My thinking has evolved a lot since then. And the last time my uncle visited, he kept going on how similar his son and my daughter are, both being crippled by anxiety. On the surface they could not be more different, but I trust my uncle and know he is right. 

So, in my own experience, distinguishing between Aspie and Autistic created a divide, an ‘us and them’, where no such divide exists in reality. And it reinforces the idea of functioning levels, which are bullshit, as I’ve written about before. Am I an Aspie on days I leave the house and do a “good enough job” of masking as NT? Does my label change to Autistic on days I cannot string two words together and spend crying and having unending meltdowns? I think not. I think the word  Autistic covers both presentations. 

Then there are those who identify as  “Shiny Aspies”, and those who are “Aspie Supremacists”. Two categories of autistics who have put me even further off the word Aspie. I think they might deserve their own blog post each, so I’m going to leave them be for now. 

I have no problem with anyone who calls themselves an Aspie. The members of that FB group, for example, were all very supportive and friendly. And if they choose to identify as Aspie, then that is their right. I just wanted to explain why I, personally, no longer identify that way, and my kids dont either. In fact, they somehow don’t even know the words Aspie or Aspergers. They have always referred to themselves as Autistic. Nothing more, nothing less. 

And so, that is why I named this blog, The Autistic Zebra. 

The Angry Chef and autism

Anthony Warner, aka The Angry Chef, is a blogger who’s wit, profanity and writing skills I’m in awe of. He has written a book that I’m also in awe of, and I intend to review it very soon.

 I wasn’t 100% happy with his chapter on the GAPS diet and autism, however, and shared my thoughts with him. And being the awesome person he is, he wrote this blog post by way of an apology and also to highlight the horribleness that is the PETA campaign that demonises autism. 

So, if you want to read a truly wonderful blog post, I highly recommend it. 

Another One Bites the Dust

Just a little update on how I’m getting on with the Neurontin. Basically, I’m not. 

I’ve only been taking it for a week. Two days on 100mg, three days on 200mg, and now on my third day on 300mg. 

In this past week I have:

Wandered off while cooking and lost track of time, leading to three burnt dinners in a row. 

Gone all the way to the computer repair shop but forgetting to actually bring the laptop I need repaired. 

Thrown out my battered old pair of shoes, which the bin men dutifully took away yesterday, without first checking for, and removing, my €300 special insoles. Yup. 

And basically wandered around in a daze and stupor, much more so than normal. While having my normal, or even higher than normal, amount of pain. 

Reminds me of my reaction to Lyrica six years ago. Which isn’t surprising at all. 

All that’s missing are the slurred words and staggering. 

And so, I’m tapering back off the Neurontin. I can’t go on like this. 

Yet another painkiller off my list. 

And so the search continues…

September Tiger Haul

Didn’t really buy much this month. Mostly some favourite snacks and a few of her things that looked useful. 

From left to right:

Notebook with blank pages,

Giant pipe cleaners (so stimmy!)

Lid lifter, which releases steam during cooking and might help things not boil over

Clockwise from top left:

French nougat

Dutch waffles 

Liquorice root chews

Apple mini muesli bars

Lollipop with sour dip

Holding on

My mental health has really taken a nosedive recently. I think it’s a combination of a bad reaction to my new meds, exhaustion, everyday ableism and losing function in my hands. 

Whatever the reason, I’ve been feeling so anxious and depressed and much more suicidal than usual. 

I have, however, been holding on. Surviving. Taking each day as it comes. 

Drastically reducing my time on Twitter has helped. It’s not just the drama or infighting. It’s the bad news in the world getting me down. So, I’ve also avoided newspapers, tv news. Trying to stay in a bubble as much as possible. So I’m out of the loop when it comes to what Trump or May said next, what storm or earthquake has hit where, how close we may or may not be to witnessing a nuclear war. 

Limiting bad news has helped me hold on. 

Other things that help are:

Taking a stroll outdoors at least once a day. Even if it’s only in my garden. 

Talking to my plants and my pets. 

Taking my time and really savouring my cup of tea or coffee. 

Playing video games, especially with my kids.

Doing some colouring and sharing finished pictures with my friends. 

Watching comedies on Netflix (I really recommend Norsemen by the way)

Trying to limit how much moaning and complaining I do. Yes, it’s good not to bottle it up, but I tend to then get caught in a spiral of negativity that doesn’t do me any good. 

Writing, writing and more writing. You may have noticed I’ve been writing a post a day lately. 

And, with the help of all of the above, I’ve been holding on, treading water instead of drowning. And I do believe it’s going to be ok.