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Published: 26 January 2019

By Andy Ross

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Autism and art - the prehistoric element

An ongoing collaborative study between an archaeologist and a medical researcher, both from the University of York, has posed an interesting view on prehistoric art and human survival.

According to the study, which was conducted on students at the university, enhanced traits that enabled survival in the harsher climates and landscapes of the north may have come about through autism. Individuals who had these traits could find food and shelter, or focus on tasks for longer than others. The study found that 4 percent of students did not know they had autism and that they had inherited some skills and traits associated with the condition. By extrapolation from the study it is possible to see that artistic abillity could have led to prehistoric man creating and making paintings and craft, some of which could have been life-saving. The length of time needed to make a stone knife, for example, by chipping away at the edges of a flint with minute attention to detail, precludes most people from the activity. Understanding and analysing patterns of animal behaviour, similarly. 

It is very interesting that autism may have been responsible for our very survival but much more work needs to be done before such a claim can be verified. Fascinating stuff!

Thank you for the link, Mr H. It is always good to hear from readers out in blog-land.