New research shows that autism may be linked to male hormones circulating in the developing fetus, and babies who produce high levels of testosterone are more likely to be autistic. It’s an affliction that mostly shows up in males. This has led to the theory that autism is an exaggerated form of the way ordinary men think and behave. Researcher Simon Baron-Cohen says, “What I am doing is testing this idea that autism might be an extreme of the male brain.” Baron-Cohen tested amniotic fluid taken from 70 pregnant women during amniocentesis for testosterone levels. When the children were born, he found that “Those who had a high level of testosterone also found it more difficult to fit into new social groups.” While they were not actually autistic, they did have more autism-like traits. They were less curious and less willing to make eye contact with other people.
Previous research shows that men are basically less empathic than women, and this difference is exaggerated in people with autism. Baron-Cohen says, “It’s showing that the sexes are different. It’s not about one being better than the other. You’re going to find individuals who are not typical of either sex.”
The danger about learning more about our minds is that unscrupulous people may use this knowledge to control us.
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