One Autistic Family

Image Description: People of many colours hold hands around the Earth

If you have not been initiated into the autistic community yet, I want to welcome you, my autistic siblings and cousins, and those caregivers ensuring we live happy, healthy lives.  I call autistic people my siblings and cousins, because we have inherited a common genetic heritage.  We are all related.

Autistic genes are most often passed down from generation to generation, like our hair colour, skin colour, and height.  We know that in 4 out of 5 cases, autism is passed down through family history.  If it doesn’t show in your parents, it shows in their parents, or your aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Maybe you are neurotypical but have autistic family members; autism is still there in your blood as a recessive trait that may not show up in you but may show in your children or grandchildren.  That is worth celebrating.  That ties you and I together as family.

How far back does our collective autistic ancestry go?  Autism was “discovered” in the early 20th century in Europe and North America, by psychiatrists and psychologists like Grunya Sukhareva, Hans Asperger, and Leo Kanner.  But that “discovery” was just because modern psychiatry and psychology only began as a way of thinking in the early 20th century.  Autistic people existed long, long before doctors and researchers “discovered” autism.  There are many autistic people with no European ancestry, who would not have been on the radar of the early psychologists and psychiatrists.  Many Indigenous autistic people are genetically removed from people from the Old World for tens of thousands of years.  One hundred years between the “discovery” of autism and the present day is not enough time for a genetic trait to spread all over the world, to the point that 1 in 66 people are autistic.

Knowing this, we can use inductive logic to hypothesize that if there are people with autistic genetics all over the world, even in remote places, and that the last time all of humanity was in one geographic place was over 50,000 years ago in our original homeland in Africa, then the first autistics had to have lived before humans left their original home in Africa, more than 50,000 years ago.  We currently have no archaeological evidence of when the first autistic person was born.  That means until we have proof of the first autistic, we can only speculate that it was some point in time between the genesis of all life and humanity’s migration out of Africa, over 50,000 years ago.  That is a far more probable hypothesis about our autistic ancestors, giving enough time for autistic genetics to find their way all over the world.

Look around your autistic spaces, sharing circles, and support groups.  See your autistic siblings and cousins like I do.  Support one another just like your own family.  We can build a beautiful home together.

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