Thursday, April 15, 2010

Discussion on Autism!

April is Autism Awareness Month.
Please read the following article if you have any interest in Autism. Autistic people have brains that are wired differently. It may be due to a lack of wiring in one area (such as in the linguistic skills area) and then compensated for in other areas. Or it may be a wiring that is independent altogether. I am sure within the next decade, we will have a definitive answer to this. But, regardless of the cause or the brain state of an autistic person, their behavior and priorities are different than that of normal (non-autistic) people. The writer compares the brain of an autistic to a hair dryer trying to survive in a world where normal people have brains comparable to toasters. Toasters are better for toasting activities than hair dryers are... Where as if you want to dry your hair, a hair dryer is much better than a toaster. What I like about this view (which is synonymous to the truth with autistic people) is that it helps us understand that there is a place in society for Autistic people! They have a purpose to fulfill!

Also, here is a good link that shows famous people that have shown Asperger's Syndrome (on the Autism spectrum of disorders). My theory is that the Autistic person's ability to FOCUS entirely on a single subject for long periods of time, is what helped these people in their special area of expertise.

It is said that in order to become an expert in any subject, a person needs to spend at least 10,000 hours doing or studying that subject. Of course, the 10,000 number was "rectally extracted", but the intent of the number is right on course. Autistics, especially those with Asperger's, have the uncanny ability to focus on a preferred subject for much longer than normal, thus allowing them to become experts in very specialized areas. For these people, this focus comes natural... For the rest of us, well, we have to work at having that intensity of focus!

Now, just briefly, I want to discuss what I meant by "wiring" in the first paragraph. What I believe is that Autistic kids have brains that do not have same "de facto" or "default" wiring that is set up during the gestation period. "Wiring" means the neuron interconnections in the brain. For example, normal people will have a normal set of neural networks that are pre-wired (setup during gestation) for Linguistics. These pre-wired neural nets, together with a normal upbringing, will allow a baby to develop normal speaking abilities after a few years. Now if a child is missing some of that pre-wiring of the neural networks, then that child will have a much much harder time understanding language and language concepts. Kids with Asperger's show this very tendency... they have the LACK of ability linguistically. And for them to develop those same language skills, these Asperger's kids have to work MUCH harder (REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION) than normal kids in order to setup and configure new neural networks that were not there for them when they were born. As a side note, there is some evidence that Asperger's is a syndrome that is a result of an event post birth that destroys neuronic interconnections. The theory is that vaccines that contain Thimerosal have a mercury preservative which causes destruction to the nervous system (neuronic interconnections). More on this can be found at:
But regardless if the lack of wiring that Asperger's have is caused by problems or differences during gestation OR by other means such as vaccines, the fact remains that for a Asperger's child to learn certain skills (such as linguistic skills), it requires MUCH MUCH more work. And I believe this is the case because for these kids, they must build NEW neural networks in their brain because of the lack of default networks. On the flipside, they do seem to have other wiring that allow them to have incredible focus.


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