Reflections of and on a probably Asperger's parent parenting an Asperger's kid (or 2)!

dragon pups

dragon pups

Monday, November 5, 2012

On the Brain - to the extreme

So this is a reflection of my musings, NOT a research paper, so while I will certainly "cite my sources", I am NOT going to avoid writing this post because I can't find the exact place I read that info...

I have been reading a book about Brain-Based-Education lately - a book written for teachers by a teacher who was also a neurologist, and it has reminded me of several important points.

1)Brains "chunk" - meaning that a memory is created and stored as a "chunk" of information, not each little piece isolated in the head.  THAT is why Graphic Organizers work - because our brain automatically stores information in charts and Venn diagrams in our head.  I think this is particularly important in the "thinking in pictures" conversation started by Temple Grandin.  I know that even as a kid, when ever I am confronted with the need to locate a piece of information in my head, I actually visualize the page I saw it on - which puts it in with the "chunk" of information it "goes with" already.  The book also talks about "chunking" in terms of sensory input: one remembers a food's smell and texture as well as appearance, and usually the context of the food (celebratory dinner or school cafeteria).  I am not entirely certain why my head is holding on to this as Important, but I just think there is an association to be made somewhere in the SPD discussion...

2) All information must enter the brain THROUGH THE SENSES.  While that seems pretty clear - it again leads me to really wonder about the effect of SPD on function and global brain wiring. Is the "different operating system" that we see in our ASD kids what creates the SPD, or is the SPD what creates the "different operating system"?  I don't really know if this question is relevant, unless we are looking for the cause-effect relationship that we can reverse, or at least... monitor?  I feel like there needs to be MORE looking at this senses - brain wiring relationship.

3)The author makes it clear that METACOGNITION trumps brain-based-teaching.  So, regardless of how much empirical data is collected, of the statistical evidence we have, of the trends that we see playing out - how well a person knows their own mind is more important than any effort on my part to meet the data.  The best way for a student to learn is by the student understanding their own thought processes, seeing their own trends, knowing "what works for them".  Ultimately, this says to me, that if the person is just different, there is nothing you can do about it! - they HAVE TO teach themselves (which is exactly what Montessori says).

ALL this brain-based-learning information keeps mixing in my head with what I have read about Nuero-feedback/ Bio-feedback.  What I read indicates that the process is hooking a person up to see their own brain imaging so they can consciously associate sensory experiences with certain mathematically measured "states of mind" - in other words the "patient" can see directly in the monitor when their brain-waves are within a certain range ("normal") or what parts of the brain light up (get used) to perform a task.  I think the idea is that by seeing how your brain works it gives you the opportunity to better control it - to "make" areas light up or brain waves be within a certain range when you "feel" a certain way in your body.

Is that Metacognition?

I also had the opportunity to take an all day seminar on mediation with the Smithsonian recently.    He had a lot to say about meditation's affect on the brain.  I believe his effort was to "prove" that mediation "works" - but ultimately all that is proven is that the physical shape/ construction of the brain IS altered by meditation - specifically the parts dealing with sensory awareness and attention to detail.  I think reading into the studies he cited also shows this metacognition piece, that a person in "control" of their mind processes can decide when to turn them on and off (like when to socially engage or linger in anxiety)...

And now I am caught in a conundrum:

If the senses are the window to the mind, and we are saying the senses are catching a reality different from the rest of us for "normal" people, then how do we know if we have reached the mind of the autistic person?  Do we have to actually alter the mind of the autistic person to the point that we can recognize it?  As in, do we need to make the ASD person less alien to us in order to recognize/ respect them?  And should we be changing them to recognize them? If they are, in fact, a different operating system, if they are, in fact, wired so completely alien to us that we have a hard time recognizing them, then shouldn't we respect that they were divinely created so?  If God "made them different" - whether by disease or genetics - how much are we supposed to leave that alone?

Is THAT where the spirituality comes in?  That we are "communicating" - connecting - through LOVE instead of our physical bodies?  Instead of our physical bodies?!  THAT sounds pretty darn close to what I am hearing postulated by the 3 psychics I have found on Facebook that "claim" to communicate with ASD kids for their parents.  That's 3 different people, who came to this through 3 different journeys (NOT through each other, as far as I can tell)...  I have heard the claim that ASD people ARE aliens on their own bodies (from a higher "frequency" or "plane"), have even felt that way numerous times about my own son.  I look at him often and just know that he is truly beside himself, not in himself... like he is manipulating his body through a marionette...

At what point DO I cross that thin line between crazy and genius?  Does only HISTORY get to prove who is crazy and who is genius?  Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci... those guys were crazies of their times, and seem geniuses to us...

Dear God, what if that IS what this Autism Phenomenon is all about - about pushing our collective envelope of crazy so that when history unfolds we can see the geniuses!?  I am NOT sure I want to be around for that!

BTW - my son has claimed in several meltdowns in the past month that the only thing that matters is who will live or die at the end of the world...  He uses this to explain to me why he does not need to eat with a fork or wear pants or touch the cart at the grocery store - what ever direction it is at the moment he does not deem important enough to follow.  I sure hope he is WAY off on this one...

I am secretly hoping that someone will respond to this and demonstrate the Great Flaw in my reasoning .. PLEASE

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