A Theory On Autism...
Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism©
Perhaps the best way for parents to think of everything presented in my materials as it related to the need to understand "the parts" before "the whole" could be understood, was to think of all these issues in terms of the autistic child's need to "break the code".
By this, I meant that in order to understand almost everything in his world, the autistic child had to first understand how every part fit into the whole – and ultimately, into his world. This was true in everything from language to emotions, socialization to process completion, sensory (visual, auditory, touch, etc.) input processing to issues with potty training. All these things - be they behavioral, social, emotional, or sensory – had to first be broken into their respective "parts" for the whole to be understood.
for the autistic child life consisted entirely of "breaking the
code" or breaking things down to their lowest level. Once each part was
understood, the whole could then be "put back together" and understood for what
it was. The difficulty, however, lay in understanding those things that should
be occurring subconsciously or automatically – those issues dealing with
digestion and immune system functions, for example.
Until that happened, everything in the autistic child's mind and life would be perceived as:
this.... when it should be perceived as this.
The key, I thus believed, was in helping the autistic child "break the code" to get from the fragmented circle to the "complete" circle.. This was true in absolutely all areas of life for the autistic child! :o)
I truly believed the inability to properly integrate sensory information, the "ordering function", and specifically, the concept of "the partial verses the whole" had been critically misunderstood and, therefore, neglected by researchers, doctors, therapists, teachers, and parents alike. But, when you looked at so much of what you saw in autism based on this one common thread... it now all made perfect sense! What was amazing about my theory was that ONE thing explained so much... how the brain processed the part from the whole... a function that had to do with the ordering of information... whether that information was reflected in or considered a behavioral, social, emotional, or sensory aspect of life made no difference because the issue was one of how things were mentally processed – not an issue as it related specifically to behavior, emotion, socialization or physical sensation (although I did believe there were a few aspects of autism that were “truly sensory” in nature – having to do with the physical structures involved in how the brain processed sensory information and the possibility that these physical structures were damaged in autistic children)!
Truly, so many issues were explained by my theory about the processing of the parts to sensory information, what I refer to as “partiality”, that it was certainly a major piece of the autism puzzle. For decades, no one saw the ONE thing all these issues had in common! In trying to look at the whole picture, the whole puzzle of autism, we failed to see that the underlying issue was actually one dealing with the processing of parts as they related to the whole – the processing of all the pieces to sensory information. In trying to “solve the puzzle of autism”, we failed to see that in order to solve the puzzle, what we needed to see were – literally – the pieces, the parts to the whole!
Perhaps this explained why this link had for so long been so allusive – why it had for decades - been completely missed! In looking at the whole, we, too, failed to see that the issue was in “the parts that made up the whole” and how they literally, did not fit together! All these issues we saw in the autistic seemed so unrelated... but, when each was examined in view of the function of sensory integration or partiality processing they were all completely related! :o)
In the remainder of this text, I will simply refer to the inability to integrate information from the senses and to relay that information to all parts of the brain needing it to do “their function” as an issue with “partiality processing”… an issue with the inability to put “the parts together”.
There were several key behavioral, social, emotional and sensory issues that could now be explained by my theory of the importance of sensory integration failure, partiality verses the whole, labeling, color and motion in the life of the autistic child. The numerous issues explained by my theory included:
Spinning, visual stims, self-spinning, odd behaviors (I could now explain over 60 in my own son), issues with interrupted tasks and transition issues, hyperactivity, motor skill issues (difficulty holding a pencil, inability to point with a finger, inappropriate use of stairs, difficulty drinking from a cup or straw, etc.), issues with cutting hair and nails, issues with brushing teeth, the inability to look at oneself in the mirror, issues with potty training, issues with toe walking, issues with the sense of touch, issues with specific food textures, auditory issues (i.e., the deaf child syndrome, unexpected sounds, etc.), issues with breaking eye contact (i.e., “looking through you”, blank stares, etc.), issues with color, issues with the concept of “same verses different”, issues with language (fascination with captions, echolia, “nonsense language”, talking in labels and commands, the inability to hold a conversation, the inability to remember a sentence), issues with socialization, issues with leaving one’s familiar environment, issues with sharing, issues with process completion, safety issues, issues with motion, apparent inability to tell a lie, issues with imaginary play, issues with perceiving emotions, issues with aggression and violent outbursts, hand flapping, licking, rocking, ritualistic behaviors (i.e., aligning or stacking objects, etc.), fascination with trains and puzzles, the uncanny ability to remember innumerable, specific facts relating to specific topics, routines and specific therapy approaches (why they seemed to work for some), issues with the great variation that existed among autistic children, etc.
The remainder of the materials provided herein consisted of a review of each of these topics in view of partiality processing.
Given that this theory was so new to everyone, including myself, there would, undoubtedly, be periodic updates to these materials. Readers could always get the latest on each of these issues by going directly to my website: http://www.autismhelpforyou.com. What I provided in these materials, however, was certainly more than enough to help parents see how all of these issues fit together when examined in terms of the inability to properly process partiality – the inability to properly integrate the parts into the whole!
In these materials, after reviewing all issues explained by my theory, I also provided for readers exercises I did at home to help my autistic son deal specifically with issues of partiality processing. The information provided in these exercises also clearly showed that partiality was indeed at the root of many issues for the autistic child.
I think all readers will find, once these materials had been reviewed, that there was no denying that fact that partiality processing in terms of sensory input processing, integration and relay, indeed, played a critical role in the life of all autistic children.
Before we get into each of these specific topics, there was a little background information I wanted to share with all readers.
When I wrote my first book, Saving Zachary: The Death And Rebirth Of A Family Coping With Autism, I thought the issue was primarily one of "order". Many parents wrote me and said they agreed with my conclusions. Yet, many parents wrote to me and said that their children did not seem to have issues with "order". That troubled me greatly. How could I be so easily able to turn my son basically on and off like a switch -a little boy who had characteristics so common to all autistic children - and yet, so many other parents were not seeing what I saw. I continued to look for the answer…and found it!
We had all been told that "every autistic child was different", yet, the fact that they were all similar "enough" in so many aspects that they could all have "the same label" told me that there was truly something "at play here" for ALL these children. I knew in my heart that "order" was definitely involved - and it was - but what I had failed to see at the time I wrote my first book was that the issue involved more than the simple concept of "order" - that the issue lay more specifically with a subset of order - order as it related to the processing of "partiality" of the “parts to the whole”. That was the KEY to it all!!! - and when I came to that realization, almost all (99%) the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place. There were still a few things I could not explain - but very few - those few pieces dealing specifically with what I believe were sensory issues relating to physical damage to the structures involved in the working of the senses and those issues relating to immune system impairments. Issues with the processing of partiality, however, also explained many issues we once saw as simply "sensory" in nature.
In many cases, what was once thought of as "sensory issues" were not "sensory" issues at all - many of these issues, too, could now be traced back to the inability to process the partial in anything.
I did firmly believe that autistic children did have an assaulted immune system and that casein and gluten, (and in many cases, phenols) were also definite issues for the autistic child, creating a natural opiate or "drug induced state". These physical issues, too, needed to be addressed by all parents. Issues of diet and the immune system were areas I considered "physical" issues and, indeed, some fell in the "sensory issues" category as well, in terms of actual physical damage to the structures involved in sensory perception and processing.
My focus was with the specific breakdown of a specific function within the brain - and how mental processing as it related to the processing of the “parts to a whole” was impacted in the autistic child. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that the immune system and overall physical functioning of the digestive process and physical sensory structures in the body were greatly impacted in the autistic child. My focus, however, was with mental processing of the parts to the whole and how this specific breakdown within the brain of the autistic affected all aspects of life in these individuals. There were many excellent sites that discussed immune system, digestive system and sensory functioning in terms of physical impacts to body structures in the autistic. My intent was not to review or redo all that information... it was already out there. My intent was to introduce completely new information as it pertained to mental processing... specifically, information that related to the processing of partiality, of sensory information integration and relay. Others had put forth their theories on how specific systems within the body were impacted in autism... what I was putting forth was a theory on how the brain's functioning itself, as it related to ONE function in particular - the proper processing, integration and relaying of information - of the parts to the whole - was impacted and how this one impairment affected absolutely all aspects of life for the autistic!
I encouraged all readers to also read my first book to fully understand my journey in coming to the conclusion I did. At the writing of my first book, I had a partial answer... now, I had a much more complete answer. The first book was but a first step that put me on the right.
I now looked for the role of order and partiality processing in every aspect of my son... and sure enough it was always there, playing a critical function in his moments of frustration as well as in everything in which he took so much joy.
For the autistic child - in absolutely everything - it was my opinion that before the "entity" or the "whole" could be understood there needed to be an understanding of the "parts" that made up the whole. "Parts" really could not "stand on their own" - they first had to be viewed as "entities in and of themselves" before they could be integrated into the "whole". That was why labeling everything was so critical to these children.
When you labeled something, even something that was a "part" of something else, that label created for that "part" a "whole entity" in and of itself. Thus, labeling could be a tremendous help with behavioral issues but it was also the key to every other aspect of life for the autistic child. Labeling was the one tool parents could truly use to their advantage in recovering their autistic child.
What was so difficult to see until now was that the inability to cope with the partial as "part of an entity" affected absolutely every aspect of the child's life... his behavior, his ability to communicate, his emotions, his sensory processing and his overall social interaction.... and it was this inability to understand the whole without first understanding "the parts" that was the common thread that appeared to explain almost everything we see in the autistic child, including the intense frustration that was so much a part of their daily life!
These children, I believed, were constantly trying to "break the code", to understand the parts to the whole, and herein, was for parents, the opportunity to best help their children recover from autism - simply by helping them to "break the code" in everything, by helping them see exactly how all the parts fit together to form a whole - be that in behavioral, social, emotional or sensory issues - the idea was the same for all aspects of the child's life.
As I embarked on this journey in writing this document, I knew not where it would lead me. By the time this document had been completed, my understanding of many issues relating to autism was much more complete and as such, readers will see how I came to view autism in an entirely new light as I progressed through this document. I was certain all readers would also have that same experience.
This book provides many examples of behaviors I saw in my own son, behaviors I now so completely understand based on brain structure and function. Because I knew my audience was quite varied, this book was written in simple language so that anyone – even a high school student – can understand it. As such, I hope the examples I have put forth, also help parents and those in science to see autism in a whole new light.