Not long ago, I commented on assertions made by both Temple Grandin and Simon Baron Cohen that autism has stayed in the population in spite of the fact that autistic people rarely have children due to an evolutionary advantage that the gene or genes involving autism confer. I have dealt with this in my article "Autism genetics: Is my suffering necessary to society" at www.jonathans-stories.com/non-fiction/autism-genetics.html . I suggested that spontaneous mutations may have played a role rather than their being any advantage to any autism genes.
I have just read the article in scientific american dealing with autism genetics. They talk about a geneticist named Michael Wigler who has collaborated with Jonathan Sebat, one of the geneticists who showed that spontaneous mutations play a role in autism. The article contains some other interesting things in addition to Wigler's assertation that spontaneous mutations play a role in autism. He also states that females may carry the genes for autism which are then passed onto their children. Wigler states that some damaged genes have a higher risk factors for males. These mutations can stay in the population and then die out after a few generations. They, persist, however, because the female carriers have modifying genes that protect them from getting autism, but pass it on to their more vulnerable male offspring. This is an intriguing idea. Not only does it seem to provide further ammunition against the arguments of Grandin and Baron-Cohen but it would also refute the arguments of the persons who belive mercury poisoning causes autism and that the estrogen in girls provides a protective effect. It would also refute the evidence of some of my female friends in the neurodiversity movement who insist that there is parity between autism in the sexes but that autism is underascertained in females for one reason or another.