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Posts Tagged ‘autism’

‘Network’ Analysis of the Brain May Explain Features of Autism: http://www.yaiautismcommunity.org/blog/?p=2088&noloop=1

Explains a lot for me… Why some things I can process in ways, measured and assessed by a number of experts, as extraordinary and beyond typical human potential–also called “islands of genius” – yet, I have other things that seem so easy and basic for others and they don’t even have to think about it, it’s intuitive, but will drive me into overload and meltdown, shutdown, or completely exhaust me, or takes forever –or never, for me to process. And I may not even ever notice the lack of connection of things that other people’s brains do intuitively.

Testing that was done by a pediatric neurologist when I was 11 showed that I had multiple mixed crossovers in my connectivity and dominance from head to toe functionally with no rhyme or reason or pattern to explain the mixed and non-aligned dominance features side to side. It made for a chaotic presentation they could not explain nor predict. They acknowledged they knew about the severe head trauma when I was five and the details about that, but still couldn’t explain the test results based on that alone. Of course they didn’t know that the more interesting stuff developed before I was born, of necessity and consequence, that set the stage, combined with what came after, that both saved my life when I did my humpty dumpty thingl, preventing devastating seizures, but later, became interfering gradually over time, now expanded and underlies loss of sensory function and tolerance. It’s like having this little bodyguard that’s overdoing his job, Like an adaptation that’s almost like an autoimmune disease because it’s attacking normal functions because conductivity is in small redundant connections rather than efficient ones.

Well, at least I’ve had a very interesting life, any way you shuffle that deck.. I have lived in interesting times. So who am I to complain? I was supposed to have died long before I could speak. Without that little alteration, Brenda would’ve been the first girl live birth! Lately, have had too many of the not so good days to keep a sense of humor about the downsides and the upsides and the ups and downs, But then one can’t always remembered to laugh about how ridiculously interesting one’s life is when sometimes it has crossed that tipping point of unbearable. Fortunately I do find my way back to it again and again kind of like a dolphin coming up to breathe, and find ways to enjoy the interestingness of it all for a while. Just have to remember that during the storms if I can, easy to forget it goes round– Nothing stays the same it always changes. Pray to wake up to a new day that’s easier gives a bit of respite and stay open to new things.

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List in journal entry 090210 for medicaid appln

I’ve posted some of my drawings and paintings, in some cases showing stages and process, and I’ve posted before about having disabilities preventing me from being able to draw, and having terrible handwriting and so on, but I rarely show you just how bad it is, when performed at a natural pace in  routine setting.  What you see above is a scan of a list of items that I was writing down as it was dictated to me by my case worker, just last week.  In order to make it legible, I have to slow it wayyyyy down, often write it first in pencil so I can correct it (many times), and then write over that in pen.  It is a severe strain for me physically, both to be able to see the marks to control them (my eyes don’t see together—binocular vision, when present, is fuzzy, and I can’t hold visual lines still when I look at them, to track the lines or bring them together, like with circles.  I can’t  make my hand follow a circle around and connect it without error—making the points complete the circle.  The effort causes a lot of strain on my hand and grip, because it’s difficult for me to grip things consistently with fine motor control, and my hand starts to tremor, then I get pain or numbness or both in my hand, and my shoulder hurt more and more and become immobile over time—frozen.  I end up with nerve impingement chronically from the effort.

This and other problems that I have, such as being extraordinarily clumsy, falling constantly, injuring myself, spilling, dropping, breaking, losing things, tripping over my own feet, in fact, they are all features of dyspraxia, also known as developmental coordination disorder.  It also affects my ability to regulate volume, pitch and rate of speech, as well as other things.  It is one of 4 developmental disorders that I have, the others being chronic toxic poisoning during infancy, Asperger or high functioning autism, and sequelae of chronic traumatic brain injury at age 5 yrs 0 months.

VR provided me with typing classes starting when I was about 13, for 8th, 9th, and 10th grades, to give me a tool for written communication, if I could develop proficiency with a keyboard.  The interesting thing about that is that it worked in ways that I did not anticipate or understand until very recently, and certainly the VR folks wouldn’t have known.  At first, it took me a really long time to remember the keyboard to be able to type pretty automatically without thinking about where each key was.  But once I was touch typing, it was easier for me in many ways, as my memory retention/recall is stronger with the tactile aspect, and I am able to process more of interactions spontaneously if my fingers are active with something, like a keyboard, or something else.  Without it, I am weak and straining to process information and remember anything that was said.

Before I went to college, the note taking problem wasn’t a problem in class so much, because I had a photographic memory and it was easy to hold the details in y head and work with them mentally.  I missed a lot of the lectures, but made up for it by consuming information voraciously.  But in colllege, there was no way to keep up with it, especially since I utterly lacked organizational or study skills.    In some cases, using a laptop helps me to offset other functional issues, such as problems with spontaneous social interactions, as the clicking of the keys are almost like stimming for me (also called stereotypy), and can be soothing when I am feeling sensory overloaded or stressed in other ways.

It wouldn’t bother me quite as much to have these functional challenges, perhaps, if I didn’t also have a special kind of brain that processes information via images.  It is natural for me to think this way, and words are quite *unnatural*.  and I not only have many of the classic problems of trying to communicate and have reciprocal relationships with others not like myself (I call them human—what I am in their categories doesn’t fit), they have tremendous difficulty reconciling what sort of creature I am and what things mean because I don’t fit into their buckets, hence why I refer to most humans as “bucket people”.  One of my old rough sketches of bucket people:

bucket people across the world But I have to basically double translate, first into language as fits my thought processes, then into language that is accessible to humans.  It is exhausting.  Someone once asked me if I dream in English when I have been living abroad or in one of my adopted languages.  The answer is “no” I really don’t think in words, unless I am having discussions with someone in my dream.  I know this very well, because until recently, I lived my sleep like another aspect of being awake, or semi-lucid, and would wake up with extensive knowledge of my dreaming the night before, usually working on solving some sort of problems.

So I am face-to-the-world, a picture thinker, in possession of a vast vocabulary, having studied and/or practiced in many languages and in many alphabets, and I’m being questioned about something, interrogated, examined, and my attempts to respond through words can quickly become a trip around the world.  That would be great fun if we both had unlimited time, no pressure or judgment about me, and we were talking about something fun for me.  But that’s not the way it works.  It’s actually excruciating for me to explain something complex to someone who doesn’t think like me and comes into it cold with no understanding of the information in advance or of me, and they quickly become more distracted by my strange behavior and the message is lost to the ethers. 

Typing answers is far easier, but still exhausting for me, as words are not natural for me—sort of like if every language that you spoke, including your birth language, was forever spoken as a foreign language.  You have to think of the words carefully, and edit many times to get to the point where it has some semblance of what I want to convey, but is not as good as what is in my head….EVER.

I tried to tackle this problem (not knowing what the problem was), by reading voraciously, learning everything I could about language use, critical writing, analysis, and even acquiring multiple other languages, hoping to find a comfort zone with others.  That’s what super systemizers do when tackling problems—they have to figure out the system, find the connections, build the detailed model in their head, make it operational, and work off of it to know what to do.  When something goes wrong, they refer back to the system they build in their head, and analyze the data and problem against their conceptual working system.  It’s an ongoing dynamic process that continues for me day and night, never stops until I sleep, and I’m sure continues in my sleep as well.  It’s how I process everything that I experience—nothing is intuitive except the process of systematizing itself.  This is likely my strongest savant ability, and also the harshest aspect of how I’m different from pretty much everyone else in the world, both physically and socially.

I think that ultimately it does help to write, but no matter how much language and knowledge I acquire, using it will never feel natural to me.  It’s like walking with crutches on a tightrope….I might be forced to gain proficiency, but never speed or comfort with the process.  Notwithstanding that, I have written a lot of stuff over the years, in magazines, a great honors’ thesis, unique contractual terms in my former job that were brilliant sometimes for the purpose, good other times, and sometimes unintelligible, even with  keyboard.  But i keep plugging away with this inadequate tool.

I hope to develop greater proficiency with drawing, and trying to come closer to producing how my mind thinks in visual ways.  I’d like to take classes or get training that would help me with that, and therapy to help mitigate the physical problems of the effort in my arm and shoulder.  That might enable me to feel less “disabled”.  Getting help with the strain from the sensory disorganization and dyspraxia would be really nice, if I had a wish list, though I was told by the audiologist at UNC that there are no longer programs for that in my area, particularly in working with adults who never had services as a child.  But hope springs eternal, and I will keep looking for solutions, as I always have.  In the meantime, I will keep working with what I have and do my best.

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