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In order to best understand these discussions, I suggest
persons visiting this particular section of my website print out the following
brief and basic
brain structure/function overview as provided
in my second book... Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism:
When The Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost! Discussions
I post will be based on this basic overview. Scroll down... some sections
have more white space than they should..
The issue of "unprovoked crying" in Zachary I have come to
understand as an issue with "reference living©".
I talked about this issue in the second book I wrote and how, in my opinion,
the child with autism "lives by reference".
Last night, as I hugged Zachary while putting him down to
bed, I practiced pronoun usage a little bit with the "I love you and you
love me" example (provided below under pronoun usage). When I
figured it was time for him to go to sleep, I said: "Good night
Zachary" and added "What do you say?". He replied:
"Thank you, mom". I then said: "No... what do you say?"
(looking for him to say "goodnight mom"). To that, again, he
replied, "Thank you, mom"... I then said, "No... what do you say when I say
goodnight Zachary?" He once again tried to reply "thank you
mom"... and now, knowing that the "no..." was coming on my part... he
quickly added, "you're welcome".. thinking that might be the correct answer.
I once again, said "no..."... and added... "that's not right... what do you
say"? I thought we were still just having fun and talking and
hugging... only now, Zachary started his "unprovoked crying".... When this
type of crying happens with Zachary, it always starts very very slowly and
quickly becomes almost overwhelming for him. :o(
Of course, at first, I wondered, "what's wrong"? That
was when it hit me like a ton of bricks again. During the day,
whenever I gave Zachary something, I expected him to say "thank you, mom"...
and I'd add "you're welcome"... those two phrases, for Zachary, always "went
together" with the "what do you say?" on my part as I prompted him to say
thank you for what he received. Therefore, when I used the same
phrase "what do you say" after saying "goodnight, Zachary" and expected a
"goodnight mom" from Zachary, he used his references of "thank you mom" and
"you're welcome" thinking those were the answers to "what do you say" in
this situation too... only I was looking for a different answer... I was now
looking for a "goodnight, mom" instead of a "thank you, mom".
Given Zachary lives by reference and his references were not "working" in
providing the correct answer to the "what do you say" when I was
looking for a "goodnight, mom", it is most understandable that Zachary
became frustrated since his reference for that familiar phrase of "what do
you say" was not working for him in this situation. Again, it
was the issue of a "moving target" (just like the issue with pronouns
I saw the same thing happen when I worked with Zachary on
issues of "time". When I would ask "what time is it?", he would
respond, 8:00 o'clock. I'd then say, "am or pm". He still
had not grasped that concept well enough... and he'd guess "pm" since most
of the time, "pm" seemed to be the right answer during the day when I'd ask
"am or pm". Anyway, when he saw I answered, "no, not pm, it's
am", he started the "unprovoked crying thing".
As such, at least in the case of Zachary, I now believe
unprovoked crying truly is not "unprovoked" and that it happens for a
reason. That reason, in my opinion, is frustration over the fact
that a previous reference is not perceived as working any more by the
child with autism... a child who lives in "a world of order©"...
where everything must be perfectly labeled to be understood and where change
is not readily or easily accepted in anything - including responses in
To calm Zachary down, all I had to do was explain to him
that "you can use the same question for different things"... and I told him
"mommy would teach him how". After that, he was fine and stopped
crying... and I could tell he understood what I was saying. :o)
As such, it now becomes an issue, in my opinion, of teaching
how the same question can be used in different situations to get different
responses. Again, understanding the problem is the first step in
addressing it. :o)
In order to help Zachary with issues of pronoun confusion as
discussed in my Updates
section, I do the following:
The easiest way to start is to take a simple sentence like:
"I love you". I then take my hand and put it on me while I
say "I love" and then, when it is time to say "you" I make sure my hand is
on Zachary. I then say "And... you [with my hand on
Zachary] love me [moving my hand back me].
Then, I say, "ok, now it's your turn" and then I take Zachary's hand and
make him do the same motions/sentence so that he now takes the role of "I"
and "me" and I become the "you".
I also make him use his finger and put it on one of his body
parts... like his nose... and have him say: "This is MY nose".
I then put his finger on my nose and have him say: This is YOUR nose.
Then I do the same thing and I assume the role of "my".
It occurred to me that when I talk to Zachary, most of the
time, I am doing the talking and as such, when referring to Zachary, what he
has heard the most in life is Zachary being referred to as "you" because I
am doing most of the talking... as such, I can see why that would easily
become confusing to him. So, I also do the following to help reinforce
I take Zachary's hand and I put it on his chest as I say:
"When Zachary is talking about Zachary,
Zachary says I or me or my or mine". Then I add, "I = me = my = mine".
Obviously, the "when ZACHARY is
talking about Zachary" is the important point to get across here... because to
get to proper pronoun usage, in my opinion, the child has to understand that
pronouns are "tied" to the person doing the talking... so, that is the part
I really make clear in teaching him this.
So, when I explain this to him, I emphasize with my voice
the part of "When Zachary is talking about Zachary"... I also say "When Zachary is
talking, Zachary EQUALS I = me = my = mine".
I then tell
him that "When mommy is talking, mommy
equals I = me = my = mine". I do this to show him that the "I,
me, my or mine" changes based on who is talking.
I then put his hand on me and say: "When Zachary is
talking about mommy, Zachary says you or yours". I do the same
thing for "other people too" like other family members... and during the
day, I'll ask Zachary to finish the following question: "I equals ???
" and he completes it with "me"... and I'll add "mine" too.
I then show him the use of "other pronouns" by saying:
"You plus me equals us". I can then carry that to talking about
someone else. For example, in talking about Anika (his sister), I'll
tell him: "If Zachary is talking about Anika, Zachary says you or she
or her" and so on. Again, the key, in my opinion, is to get
Zachary to understand that pronouns change based on WHO IS TALKING.
Zachary used to be absolutely horrible at pronouns. It truly was not
something I had specifically worked on until very recently. But, now
that I believe to have this one figured out too in terms of how he is
processing pronouns, at least I know what I need to do. I never would
have imagined that pronouns could be so confusing... but, now that I
understand how Zachary processes them, I can see why they are so confusing.
I'm sure he'll get this though. Understanding the problem is always
the first step in addressing it. :o)
Note that I often use the word "equals" because Zachary
understands that well...understandably since categorization of objects
(i.e., using equal) is located in the temporal lobe along with
"understanding of language"... so, in using "equal", I draw on another
aspect or function in the same lobe associated with "understanding of
language"... and that is why "equal" or "not equal to" work so well in so
many things that I explain to Zachary (i.e., synonyms, antonyms, etc.).
Simple sentences with two pronouns are really the best to
start with... like the "I love you" sentence using hand motions to help
reinforce the concept. When one uses the "I" verses "you" and the hand
motions... that helps categorize the pronoun/person relationship and as
such, one is drawing on "categorization" to help with the "understanding of
language"... both functions in the temporal lobe. Again, in my
opinion, it is critical to always "draw" on other functions in the same area
of the brain. That, I have always found to be the best way to
teach Zachary. These simple exercises, in my opinion, can
go a long way... and we can get them done first thing in the morning during
our morning hugging time when he comes to hug me for 15 minutes or so each
morning before we get up. It's a very nice way to start the day.
|Short Term Memory
This is one area that I have come to understand a great deal
more in the last couple of days. I knew that I wanted to teach
Zachary basic addition from 0+0 = 0 to 9+9=18 in order to give him the
"basis" he needs to move forward. He already knew many basic
additions, but, not everything that would be included in this range.
As such, I decided to make "flashcards" of my own. Since I know
that Zachary lives by reference, I now work at providing "as complete a
reference" as possible for him.
For example, to teach him the above mentioned range of
"additions", I would not use flash cards that simply ask the question
without providing the answer... I believe you also have to provide the
answer to form that "critical reference". Children
with autism, in
my opinion, can not be expected to "guess" or come up with the answer on
their own. In my opinion, they have to be provided with the answer and
expected to learn it and commit it to memory. That, I see as
critical since the "first reference" needs to be as accurate as possible,
because, in my opinion, an inaccurate first reference can also get
"ingrained" into the brain and used as a reference for the future.
I am convinced that Zachary "lives by reference" - by drawing on past
memories for answers to the present and that his ability to "change that
past memory" is seriously impaired... that it would take a great deal more
work to "change a bad reference" in Zachary than it would in a normal
person. Thus, I very much try to give Zachary accurate
references to draw from... and the best way to do that is to teach him by
providing "the answers" he needs to have that "accurate reference".
I went to the store and for .50 cents per pack, purchased 4
packs of blank cards to make my own flashcards for Zachary.
I took different color markers for each set... for example 0+0=0 through
0+9=9 was in one color, 1+0=1 through 1+9=10 was in another color and so on.
When I wrote these out, I did not write them horizontally (as shown here),
but rather vertically (as you would do if you were adding large numbers
together). That way, as I progress in math, the concept of number
alignment will have been there from the start and that should help with the
"carry the one" type addition and so forth later on.
In addition to providing the addition with the answer
provided on one side, for each card, I then wrote out the same "question" on
the back, only this time, without the answer. So, a completed
card would have for example, 5+4=9 on one side and on the back side, it
would have 5+4 with the line drawn below both numbers to indicate "equal",
but on the back side, the answer would not be provided. In doing
this, I could show Zachary the 5+4=9 on one side and then have him repeat it
once... I would then turn the card over and ask him the VERY SAME
question... only without the answer... he could easily remember what he had
just seen on the other side and give me the right answer. Yet,
if I said, "ok, now close your eyes and say it", then, he would have much
more difficulty... some he would get, others he would greatly struggle with.
Those he would get were the "easier" additions and a few of the new ones.
Understandably, he had more trouble with the "bigger numbers" he had had
less exposure too.
Yet, in all this, Zachary had great enthusiasm in going
through the cards. There really was no stress there because if
he did not remember, I just turned the card over again to show him the
answer and he would repeat the addition with the answer. Then I
turned it over again and had him say it without seeing the answer.
In all of this, what became very very clear to me was that when I asked
Zachary to "close his eyes and say it", I could truly see just how impacted
his short term memory really was! "Out of sight out of mind" was
certainly evident... again, he could remember those things he had previously
learned when we got to those, but he had much more trouble remembering the
"harder" number additions... those he had had much less exposure to in the
Again, I made sure I minimized the stress on Zachary.
When I said, "now close your eyes and say it", he knew that he could always
just open his eyes and have the answer there if he needed it... and often,
he did. So, to go through a card like 6+7=13 for example, when I
said "now close your eyes and say it", Zachary would close his eyes and say
one number... usually he said the first one (here 6) but then forgot what
came next so he would open his eyes to see the next number (in this case 7).
He would then close his eyes and repeat 6+7 = and then he would "blank out
again" and open his eyes once more to see the answer. Once he
read it off the card, he would close his eyes again and say 6+7=13.
I would then reinforce by flipping the card over again and having him say it
without being able to see the answer... and then, I'd move on to the next
In doing this, there were also times when I noticed that
when I said, "ok, now close your eyes and say it" that Zachary would start
off with the wrong "second number" and catch himself and want to start
over... for example, if the card was 6+7=13, when I said "close your eyes
and say it", he could say 7+ and then he would realize "the order was off"
and he would stop and open his eyes to get the first number first...in this
case 6 before going on. So, he clearly had enough short term memory to
recall the "order" of things and knew when something was "wrong".
That was evident.
Thus, short term memory was impacted in certain ways, but,
not others (the "order of things" seemed to be properly recalled.
Anyway, as soon as all my cards were made, I practiced
going through them with Zachary. As we were going through them,
I then realized that I had to "supplement" with "other" math cards because
the "one card" at a time - as described above - was teaching "one answer".
What I then decided to do was to alternate between two ways
of teaching basic addition. One way using the flashcards as
described above, and then, also making use of "number equivalents".
This way, I could show Zachary that there is more than one way to get an
answer. So, rather than doing flashcards, I work with what I
provide in my section under
Basic Addition in the Parent Teaching Tools
section of this website. The idea here is to always teach
that there is more than just "extremes" in life... more than just "this way
or that"...in my opinion, you always want to teach the "in between
situation"... and that applies to math too - to teach that there is more
than one way to get the right answer - and this does that nicely.
In my opinion, teaching this way solidifies the concept that there can
always be "another way" - and that helps move these kids, in my opinion,
away from much of the "rigidity" or "routine" in their lives because they
can then apply this "more than one way concept" to other things in life.
In working with these, I found Zachary would easily
"catch on" to the pattern and be able to give me the answer when I
reproduced this on a chalkboard and left out a number in the equation.
I would then have Zachary read off the entire equation for each line, and
then, I'd say, "ok, now, put it in your head". When I said that,
he would put his hands on top of his head and repeat it again.
Then, I'd say, "ok, now do it with your eyes closed" and have him repeat it
one final, third time. In my opinion, this helps with
issues in "working memory". Each time we did these exercises, they
seemed to get easier for Zachary. When he was "reluctant" to do
the work, I'd just pick a really "easy number" for that day. I
usually only worked on one "number equivalent" chart per day - no more!
|Losing A Tooth
Losing A Part Of
"My Puzzle" -
A Part Of Me!
My sister-in-law also has a child with an ASD (autism
Andrew is approximately 11 years old. To this day, whenever he
loses a tooth, or actually, is even just in the process of having a loose
tooth about to fall out, Andrew gets totally stressed out over the ordeal...
to the point that the entire day is lost as he completely and totally
focuses on that issue.
Today, Zachary lost his first tooth. It was
loose and he could sense that. He came to me, complaining and
showing me his mouth... not understanding what was going on.
Luckily, I had been made aware of this "losing a tooth" issue by my
sister-in-law. Rather than allow Zachary to get completely
stressed out over the entire issue, I pulled it with a tissue.
He was upset at first, saying: "fix it" or "put it back"... but,
within 1/2 an hour, his distress was gone. Luckily, I also had a
picture of Anika holding the first tooth she had lost and showing her smile
with the missing tooth. I showed that to Zachary to help him
understand that he would be getting a new tooth... a big boy tooth... and
had Anika show him how she had a new tooth in her mouth to replace the old.
Knowing of this "issue" in children with autism made it a lot easier to deal with
when it came about! :o)
Losing a tooth, in my opinion, causes stress because for the
child with autism, he does not understand losing a part that "belongs there"
(like hair, or even one's stool)... it is like a missing piece of a
puzzle... something he has difficulty dealing with... and something he wants
"put back". :o) I'm happy to say that he is fine now!
I suspect this is why so many children have such huge potty
training issues too... they prefer to wait as long as possible before
actually going potty... often resulting in serious constipation problems.
The same, in my opinion, would be true of issues with cutting hair/nails,
|Inappropriate Sexual Behavior
Zachary (age 5) has really engaged in very little of this.
It was only recently that I even noticed any of this type of behavior.
What I have noticed, however, is that he is not in any way obsessed with
sexuality at this point. Right now, he's just a normal 5 year
old that will touch his penis when he sits on the potty if I am attempting
to potty train him. Of course, he has noticed that as he touches
himself, his penis can become erect... something he appears to find
rather "funny" at this time. Yet, I believe this sense of
"funny" is tied more to issues of motion than any sexual experience he may
be having. As I thought about this issue of inappropriate
sexual behavior and how limited it was in Zachary, I realized it truly only
occurred during very specific times... when he actually had access to
"sexual parts" (i.e., while potty training). In terms of
inappropriate sexual behavior involving others, I believe I may the only one
who has been a "victim" of that in our household. Only on a few
occasions, Zachary would try to touch my breasts. Yet, even
then, it was more of a "patting" to almost make them bounce back.
He has only attempted a few quick pats on a couple of occasions because I am
now aware of this issue in autism and I am very careful in
discouraging it right away because I do believe that if not discouraged, it
can obviously lead to a much more complicated situation down the road...
including obsessive sexual crime (see my chapter on
Pain Of Today...The Hope For Tomorrow
in book 2 for more on that).
I believe that in the very young child with autism,
such behaviors may actually stem from "curiosity" in terms of how motion
works because in Zachary, I've noticed he wants to touch/manipulate
anything that moves... whether that is a gadget or his penis becoming erect.
In my opinion, children with autism are constantly trying to "break the code"
to understand their world and given they know no limit in terms of what it
is appropriate to touch and what it is inappropriate to touch, in my
opinion, I can see how simple curiosity - as in the case of spinning - could
become obsessive compulsive behavior given brain structure and function and
what happens as a result of damage to a specific area... the frontal lobe...
associated with motor functions, and obsessive compulsive
It is interesting to note that the "quick patting" of my
breast that Zachary did try to do on one or two occasions was, in my
opinion, exactly the same as the motion he used to do as an infant when I
nursed him. At the time, I understood that to be his way of
further activating the flow of my breast milk!
Zachary has almost every software program ever made for kids
by Jump Start and The Learning Company, and several from Broderbund, and
other companies, as well. I never cease to be amazed at
how quickly he can grasp what needs to be done in these programs.
Yet, to give Zachary verbal instructions (i.e., write the letter "A" on
paper, for example) just never seems to work well.... he knows how to spell
countless words, but, when it comes to actually writing, that is
still very much a challenge I need to help him with. He can make
the letters... he just doesn't know to put them in the correct order on the
paper for example, to write his name... even though he can easily spell
it... and knows what letter to write first, second, third, etc.
If he tries to write his name, the letters end up all over the page, in
various sizes, some one on top of the other, and pretty well all over the
Yet, on the computer, he can "take in" instructions and
follow them quite easily - even when the program is "talking" fairly fast.
As I write this, he is working on a 2nd grade program (he is 5 years old) as
he works on his computer (just next to mine) and he is trying to put a
gadget together based on a propulsion system to get a functioning apparatus
that will throw an object into a specific area. That seems
to indicate that visual perception and auditory processing (in the temporal
lobe) seem to be working fairly well in conjunction with the skills found in
the parietal lobe (spatial processing, visual attention, touch perception,
manipulation of objects, goal directed movement, 3-D dimension
identification). Again, as I stated earlier (see below), it
appears that the more active the specific area of the brain (i.e., the
parietal lobe), the better overall functioning there appears to be.
The computer, obviously involves almost the entire parietal lobe.
If, however, I look at auditory processing (temporal lobe)
and goal directed movement (parietal lobe) alone, for example, asking
Zachary to write his name on a piece of paper, that is a much more difficult
task for him. He clearly understands what I am asking (understanding
language is in the temporal lobe), recognizes my face and voice (also
functions in temporal lobe) as I give him those instructions, but yet, this
simple task of writing his name (a goal) is quite difficult to do
"correctly" (goal directed movement is in the parietal lobe). I'm
beginning to be of the opinion that making use of parietal lobe functions as
much as possible is the key to "activating" other functions in the brain...
via computer use.
For example, although I don't have a "pen" for the computer,
I wonder if Zachary could properly spell his name using a "pen" that writes
to his computer screen. If he could do that, surely he could then
transfer the "task of writing" later on "to paper". Guess that
is something I will be looking into. :o) Perhaps these
children need to be taught to write not on paper, but on computer first!
I don't know... just a thought at this point.
The other very interesting thing in all this is that Zachary
can easily and accurately perceive MOTION while playing on the computer...
yet, he has great difficulty in "seeing" a moving car when we go walking!
Why was it that he can avoid a moving object in his computer games and avoid
being somehow "terminated" yet he was unable to properly perceive motion in
real life - at least when it came to "seeing" a car. I knew that with
"cars", visual input took a back seat to a past memory as I explained in
book 2. How was it that "memory" appeared to be more
flexible with computer games than "real life". With a computer game,
Zachary appears to "learn" the lesson when it comes to motion and adjusts
accordingly. That, clearly is not the case when it comes to cars
and the real world!
As I searched for the answer to this question and once again
pulled out my 3-page brain overview, again, the answer appeared to be there,
before me - once more!
Damage to the occipital lobe also results in difficulty
in identifying objects in one's environment!
This is a very difficult issue for me, personally.
I have literally spent months trying to teach Zachary how to safely
cross the street and he still is unable to do so. I work on this issue
with him pretty well every time we go for a walk. I truly fear for his
safety in this area! :o(
I decided to do a small experiment with Zachary.
First, I explained the difference between "moving" and "standing still".
It occurred to me that I had always just "assumed" he knew the difference,
but really, I had never actually labeled "moving verses still" for him.
So, I did that first to give him that critical label. I
would move and say: "I'm moving".... when I'd stop, I'd say, "I'm
standing still". I did this little experiment over two days.
The first day, I was walking about the kitchen/living-room area as I would
ask Zachary, "Am I moving or still?". He had a great deal of
difficulty answering correctly... actually, I truly felt he was just
guessing. I worked with him a for about 15 minutes on this exercise.
A few days later, I tried again. I started by
sitting in a chair, and moved my arms asking Zachary, "Are my arms moving or
still?"... he could give me the correct response... so that was encouraging.
I then got up and walked around the room asking him the same thing as I had
done previously. This time, he was much better at giving me the
correct answer. I also tried this with cars... I found he still
had difficulty with that. Perhaps the fact that cars are first
far away, he does not perceive them well enough to tell if they are actually
moving unless they are much closer... I don't know. I do know,
however, that I still need to work motion and safety issues with him a great
deal... before I can even begin to feel comfortable that he understands this
critical issue. At this point, I simply wanted to suggest to
parents that they make sure they specifically label the difference between
"moving and still" in order to at least help with the understanding of the
"concept" behind motion. In addition, when I see moving cars, I am
sure to tell Zachary that "moving = danger". I always use the
"equal" to put concepts across as I find his understanding of mathematical
equations is better than "just sentences". Understanding of
language is located in the temporal lobe along with categorization of
objects... as such, by using mathematical concepts, I believe the "lesson"
is better learned. Difficulty perceiving objects in motion
and difficulty locating objects are signs of occipital lobe damage
(responsible for visual processing).
Yet, there is some visual perception in the temporal lobe
along with the understanding of language and as such, the key to overcoming
these issues may lie in making use of visual perception in the temporal
lobe... but, at this point, I don't know enough about the "type of visual
perception" there is in the temporal lobe. Perhaps understanding
that will be key to teaching issues of safety when it comes to motion.
I don't know. Auditory processing also resides in the temporal lobe.
Yet, auditory relays are in the midbrain. Thus, I don't know if
teaching safety based on "hearing" would work... I don't know that that
alone is enough... I know I don't always hear cars coming... and I doubt a
seriously impaired child would either. :o(
This is still very much an issue to work on at this point...
but, at least now, Zachary understands the "label" or difference between
"moving and still" - of that, I am sure. :o)
|Hearing Vs Seeing
Zachary has a computer program (1st grade by Jump Start)
that he likes to play. In it, there is a basket of golden eggs
that can be broken. Something comes out of the egg when broken... a
white flying horse making a horse sound, a duck making a duck sound as it
too flies away... and the interesting one... a black horse... only this one
sounds like a bat flying away. It is black and makes the sound
of a bat... and so, when I asked Zachary what it was... he said "a bat"...
even though it clearly looks like a horse. Thus, sound clearly
takes precedence over sight. Given visual perception, categorization
of objects and auditory processing are in the temporal lobe, I guess this
one makes sense, too, now.
Communication and Reference Living
With Zachary, I always found he absolutely loved spelling.
I now know why. This is one of his greatest tools in "breaking
the code" to life. For example, when by a campfire one day,
Zachary noticed the sparks flying in the air as more wood was added to the
fire. I said, "Zachary, watch out for the sparks".
Then, I said: "sparks... how do you spell sparks, Zachary".
This was a new word for him. His reply: "sparks... how do
you spell sparks, mom?". I spelled it for him... he repeated the
word and then spelled it himself and repeated it again. That is
pretty well always the routine with new words... he wants the spelling,
spells them, commits them to memory... and voila... another piece of his
world is understood and made sense of. But, the interesting
thing in all this is that spelling out loud is used to help him understand
language. That brings me to an interesting point. Zachary
can clearly understand the meaning of words I provide. That
would involve hearing the word, spelling it and associating a meaning to
that word. Thus, both the frontal and temporal lobe would be at
play here... definitely a sign of hope here since that means there is SOME
communication here... although still limited I'm sure. But, what
that seems to indicate is that the issue is not one of acquiring the meaning
of the word but rather one of retrieving it when reading.
Zachary is easily able to answer: "what's that?" when I ask him "what
those flying things are in the air during another campfire". So,
he can retrieve the meaning of words... and answer, "it's a spark" just
fine. Yet, even though he understands words, and what they
represent, when it comes to reading and the retrieval of that information
using visual input, he does not seem to understand the meaning of words
nearly as well. He can read almost any word just fine (at age
5), but if I ask him a specific question about something he just read, he
just can't seem to answer it, even if what he read was just a short
In terms of word associations... or what I called living via
"reference communication", there are many examples of this in Zachary.
For example, I once said, "sit up, please", he answered "stand down, thank
you". Thus, if sit is associated with stand (opposites), up with
down, and please with thank you, his response makes perfect sense.
Likewise, we were once driving to a nearby town for errands. On
the way we saw a truck full of green cabbage. Zachary had never
seen such a thing. I pointed it out to him and said, "look, Zachary, a
truck full of green cabbage". The word "cabbage" produced the
following response from Zachary, "red cabbage, juice". Zachary
has recently seen me making juice in a juicer - using red cabbage... and
hence, again, this "word association" made perfect sense.
Reference communication and reference living!!! Other examples
include, "hot sun" - "cold moon", "cold ice" - "hot water", etc.
Recently, I asked Zachary if he could hear my heart beating
as he put his head on my chest to hug me. He answered, "yes".
I said: "That's my heart". He answered: "heart...
rectangle". Two shapes. Again, reference communication©
- speaking by using associated words! Thus, his brain uses one word
and looks for "references" from past experiences and based on what is in his
"databank" Zachary makes "connections" or "associations" that truly do not
When it comes to "reference living", I think there may be
actual behaviors that are explained by this too. For example,
the turning of all lights on... and then all lights off may be but an
extension of this reference living... although I still do believe it also
has to do with issues of "partiality processing" as explained in book 2
because there is usually not an "in between" there... it is usually "all or
none" and the fact that it becomes an obsessive behavior. Note that
motor activity, memory tied to motor activity and obsessive thought are all
located in the frontal lobe. As such, in my opinion, actions -
like thoughts - become obsessive too!
This morning, Zachary came into my bedroom for his usual
morning hugging. We usually spend some time hugging in my bed
first thing in the morning, working on eye contact, etc. Inevitably,
Zachary always gets really close to my neck for a little bit of "sniffing"
too. In my first book, under Chapter 6 (Signs So Easily Missed
Or Dismissed), I had outlined about 50 things that, in looking back, I felt
were signs of autism manifesting itself in Zachary. The last of
those observations had to do with the sense of smell... from very early on,
Zachary loved to be "sniffed". At first, I just thought it was
"cute" and played along. I now believe that this was Zachary's
first attempt at communicating with me - via the sense of smell. He
has always absolutely LOVED to be "sniffed" in the neck area. It
totally calms him down... from very early on, I found this was the way to
best calm him down to make him fall asleep. This morning, as we
hugged, I asked him: "Zachary, what is better - a sniff or a hug?".
Amazingly, he answered "a sniff". We played a little more and I asked
him the same question again - same answer! A few minutes later I
asked his father to come into the room and ask him the same question.
He did - and got the same answer! There was a time where I would
have found this "odd", but now, given that I believe smell has been very
underestimated in its importance in the life of human, and given what I have
come to see and understand in Zachary, it actually makes sense... the sense
of smell is located in the same lobe (frontal) as "language
production" and control of emotions and motor activity. There
is also some olfactory processing in temporal lobe where you find emotions
and understanding of language. (Zachary's first attempts at communicating
with me - I'm convinced - were via the sense of smell). As a child, I,
too, used to love going to sleep in my mother's bed... even if she was not
there... there was always something comforting about "the smell of mom" on
the pillow. :o) Smell, emotions, communications, motor
activity - perhaps a great deal more "inter-related" than we ever could
imagine! Does that mean "touch" as in "hugging" is not important in
emotions... obviously it is... after all, both "touch" perception and
somatosensory functions are co-located in the parietal lobe...thereby,
explaining why a "hug" just "feels so good". I'm just saying
that perhaps we have greatly under-estimated the sense of "smell".
Truly, I do believe parents of children with autism are on the front
lines in terms of seeing how the human brain may truly function!
It is all very interesting to say the least! I've always been
fascinated by the human brain, so much so that my mother once told me I
should go into neurology... LOL... perhaps God had other plans for me... and
would show me how the human brain really worked in terms of the
relationship of specific functions within one area - via my son!
I'm sure neurologists who work their way to my website are probably ready to
have a coronary... totally LOL! Yes, these are all just "my opinions
and my observations"... but, it sure does all seem to "fit together" -
After all, does man/child not inherently want to scream when
on a rollercoaster (motion/ language production)...do you not inherently
scream when scared - or "freeze in your tracks" (emotion - here loss of
control perhaps, production of language, and motor functioning)... does a
child not inherently speak with his mouth full (smell/taste/ language
production) until "taught otherwise".... and do you not want to just say
"ah" when you come into a room that smells wonderful due to a meal being
cooked or bread being baked... you just naturally want to breathe deeper...
and it naturally makes you "feel" better... doesn't it! I think
if we really focused on things we do "inherently", perhaps we would truly
see the workings of the human brain a lot more clearly.
"We still do not know
one-thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us."
Parietal lobe functions
|As I rested one evening, I found it to be more quiet than
usual in the house. Zachary was playing on the computer... he
was totally captivated by one of his favorite online games... Tamale Loco.
This is an online game that can be found at the following web address:
Shockwave.com is an excellent place to get a lot of fun games online that
keep Zachary rather entertained. I do not let him play too much
of these games, but, he does get to play on this - his favorite site - once
in a while. Anyway, on this particular evening, as I enjoyed a
few moments to myself, I started thinking about Zachary's playing of these
computer games and several things now came to mind. In playing this
computer game, I considered the functions in the brain that were involved.
Clearly, almost all parietal lobe functions were at involved in playing this
game: spatial processing, visual attention, touch perception,
manipulation of objects, goal directed movement and 3 dimension
Interestingly, in playing this game, it almost
appeared as though there was definitely some sensory integration going on
here, when so often, in other instances, that integration was clearly
lacking. For example, in playing this game, Zachary was
obviously aware of sounds, movement, motion, etc. I wondered why
that was... was it because he perceived the "computer" as a whole as opposed
to the way he perceived other objects in his world when that integration was
simply not there (as explained so often in my second book)? Clearly
this computer game stimulated almost the entire parietal lobe... was that why it
functioned so well during a computer game? Could the amount of
activity AT ONE TIME within a specific area of the brain actually result in
better overall functioning in all functions located in that entire area? It almost
appeared to be the case!
In working specific functions
separately, Zachary did seem to have "greater issues"... more difficulty in
focusing his attention, more difficulty with eye/hand coordination and
drawing of objects, etc. Yet, when the entire lobe seemed to be
active, his eye/hand coordination was absolutely excellent. In
addition, I felt the parietal lobe was somehow also working "better" in
relation to "other areas of the brain" during this time that he played on
the computer when his parietal lobe was very active. For
example, in this game, there had to be some communication going on with the
frontal lobe as it related to motor activity, planning and execution and
memory as it related to that motor activity. Zachary had played
this game in the past. He clearly had memorized the traps to
avoid and that impacted his "motion" on the screen... or the motion of his
hands on the keyboard. Was this not a frontal lobe function? Or
was this simply a matter of "goal directed movement" ... of
avoiding traps...and "manipulation of objects" - things that indeed resided the parietal lobe. I had no way of
telling whether or not these "movements" were part of the parietal lobe or
frontal lobe functions because, truly, they could in my opinion, fall under
As I thought more about it, I felt that the functions were
more those of the parietal lobe... but, again, I had no way of knowing - for
sure. Yet, if there was communication between the frontal
and parietal lobes, that, in my opinion, certainly meant there would be
implications in coming up with teaching tools for these children... and that
was encouraging. This certainly was all very interesting to say the
least! For example, if goal directed movement went along with
touch, visual attention and manipulation of objects (all in the parietal
lobe), then, obviously, to get a child to write letters of the alphabet
using a pencil, for example, it may be best to provide an example of the
"goal" or the letter to be reproduced - perhaps on a building block (to take
advantage of 3-D perception also located in the parietal lobe).
I truly felt that teaching these children had to involve making optimal use
of the most functions available within a particular area of the brain.
This, in my opinion, clearly explained why these children absolutely loved
computers... software allows for manipulation/touch of objects (keyboards)
and combines aspects of visual attention, goal directed movement, 3-D
perception and spatial processing. Clearly, in my opinion,
computers were the best tool parents had to teach these children.
Tip For Parents -
Using a Pencil!
|For many children, using a pencil seems to be
very difficult. In my opinion, there are many factors that play
I found I had to give Zachary time to familiarize himself with
anything new in life... I truly believe this "familiarization process" he always
went through was simply his way of trying to make sense of new "parts" in his
world. Pencils were no exception. Before he could actually use them as tools,
he had to "familiarize himself" with them. He had to
align them, stack them, etc. until the "newness" was gone. Only then could
I even begin to put a pencil in his hand and help him draw/write. I found
that to be true with almost all new tools.
In my opinion, if a child has
difficulty perceiving the part from the whole, then the act of placing a pencil
in his hand, by definition, introduces a new "part" to his
body... one his is unable to understand and cope with... one he may be unable to
separate in terms of "what belongs to him" verses "what is a
separate entity" in and of itself...
because once these "parts" (the pencil and the hand) touch, to the
autistic child, they may become a "whole" that needs to be understood in terms of
its parts... and unless the "parts" are well defined, the autistic child, in my
opinion, will experience frustration as a result of the simple act of
trying to hold a pencil.
Clearly defining the hand as an entity in and of itself, the
pencil as an entity in and of itself, a sheet of paper in and of itself and
stating that "I'm putting the pencil in your hand" as you do it, should help
with this issue. In terms of the hand, all fingers needed to be
defined... counting them is perhaps the easiest way to do this: 1 finger +
1 finger = 2 fingers... working all the way up to "5 fingers" as you count and
raise each finger on your hand and then showing the child he too has 1 finger =
1 finger = 2 fingers... again, all the way to 5 fingers.
To define the pencil, I told Zachary about the pencil's color,
that the "thing inside" is "lead for writing on paper" as I showed him how the
pencil makes a mark on paper when you use it... the pencil mark itself was also
be defined as "a mark"... I'd suggest using a shape the child is familiar with,
such as a circle, and defining the shape as you do it. In addition,
I defined the "eraser" as something to "erase a mistake" as I showed Zachary how
to do it. Making a "mistake" in a familiar shape was an easy way to
put across the concept of a "mistake" as I erased it. For example, I
could state: "let's make a circle" but then, actually draw a
square... Zachary would understand that "this is not a circle" and hence, I
could say: "oh, no... that's not a circle... that's a square... I made a
mistake... let's fix it" as I then erased the square and said: "all gone"
and drew a circle.
Notice again, that every single aspect was defined... the
"thing I drew", the "mistake", the "let's fix it"... to help Zachary understand
the issue that "this is wrong but there is something we can do to fix it"... the
concept of "let's fix it" became a HUGE coping mechanism for Zachary in terms of
understanding how parts fit into the whole... as did the concept of "it's
broken" ... or "it's stuck"... all these simple concepts helped him to cope with
the world at times when it just didn't seem to make sense to him... in so so
many issues... until they could each be individually addressed. I
encourage all parents to use these simple phrases to help their children cope.
For more on this, see
Words to Cope©
under my section on language in book 2.
By saying: "it's stuck", for example, I could joke with
Zachary about the fact that the pencil was in his hand, on his skin, without
causing him too much stress. The concept of "it's stuck" allowed" things to be put together to form a new whole" without creating a huge amount
of stress. This concept I used to help with overall issues with
touch, and with anything else as it related to things "going together", like
stickers on things, bandages on skin, etc.
With Zachary, I found doing these simple things helped him
tremendously. By working with familiar things, I could easily reduce
stress levels to help him understand the issue of "creating a mark" without
introducing a new stressful concept. At first, since I used a shape he
understood and loved... his love of circles (a "whole entity" in and of itself)
allowed me to trigger his interest as I helped him deal with the overall issue
of holding a pencil. The sheet of paper also needed to be defined...
I explained "a sheet of paper" to Zachary as being something "to write on" as I
showed him how to make a circle or letter on it... something he was familiar
As I moved on to "other markings", I defined those too...
whether they were just "marks" or "sketchings", etc.... they were defined as
something to help Zachary cope with this new concept of "writing".
The sheet of paper, I further explained in terms of its color (i.e., "this paper
is white"), its shape (i.e., "the paper looks like a rectangle" - as I showed
him the outline of the paper with my hand), its surface (i.e., "it's smooth - as
I used his fingers and pushed them across the page), etc. Thus using
familiar concepts of color, shape and texture further helped with the overall
issue of "writing" in terms of removing the stress from the situation.
Note that I would not use a "workbook" here... just one plain
sheet of paper... at first one that has no lines... then one with lines as
Zachary became familiar with the concept of "paper". A workbook
involves a lot more in terms of defining the "parts" that make up the "whole" in
terms of a "workbook". The concept of "pages" to a workbook was a
difficult concept for Zachary to grasp... a workbook (or any book)
involves a "front cover", "back cover", pages in the middle (if not numbered,
in my opinion, they become much harder to define for the child... thus, it is
extremely difficult to explain how the "pages" fit together to form a whole).
In addition, a workbook can have writing on it and if the child does not yet
understand the alphabet and how letters "fit together" to form words, then, that
also introduces a whole new area to deal with. One sheet of plain paper, in my
opinion, is best to get started with this issue. As the child
progresses, you can move to "lined paper", and so on... always completely
defining the new "parts" to each tool!
colors may play a huge role in how the
child with autism perceives his world (autistic adults report that as children, they
perceived objects as "colors"), I also found another great tool for Zachary.
I always found Zachary to be so much more fascinated if "what I was doing"
A friend of mine showed me a cool new mechanical pencil,
marketed under the name Rainbow Stix. These mechanical
pencils have something I had never seen before...the lead that you insert has
three colors - red, blue and green. Simply turning your wrist
slightly as you write makes you write in multiple colors. :o)
Zachary, these mechanical pencils provided that fascinating "unexpected"...
multiple colors apparently coming from the same object... first the mark was
red, then blue, then green... he was totally captivated by these pencils right from the start!
As I wrote, I called out the colors. After I showed him
how I could write in multiple colors, with the same pencil, apparently not doing
anything to make the colors change, he just had to try
it for himself - he picked up the pencil and started to draw/make lines
on a piece of paper. He found these totally cool... and so did I!
neat thing is that although the lead has three colors, as you write and the
colors mix, you end up writing in a whole bunch of colors. "Color:
The Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow©"
in the life of the child with autism? - I truly believe this may indeed be the
For those interested in these pencils, I could get
four mechanical pencils per pack, with 12 refill leads for about $2.50.
You can buy these at Staples stores. The company that makes them is
called Pentech, a subsidiary of Jakks Pacific, Inc., a maker of children's toys.
The company can be reached at 310-456-7799.
In writing, I also came to notice that Zachary actually had what
appeared to be real physical issues with "just holding" the pencil.
As I did more research on autism, I discovered that "limb apraxia" is common in
these children. It truly was as though Zachary had no strength in
his fingers. So, I bought a couple of "squishy or sponge
balls" that he could squeeze now and then to build strength in his
fingers. That seemed to help too.
Finally, I noticed Zachary was pretty well ambidextrous... he
could do things with either hand and did not seem to always prefer one hand over
the other - there was maybe a slight preference for left in writing, but, other
things, he did with his right hand, like eating. So, I decided to
focus on the right hand (we tried left, but I just found it too hard).
I decided to provide a "reference" for him in order to show him how to hold a
pencil. I showed him how to put his index finger and thumb to hold the
pencil and told him to "put his fingers on the crack"... the "crack" being the
part where the pencil sharpening ends and the "color" of the pencil begins -
that was "the reference" and he came to use it pretty well immediately when I'd
just remind him to "put his fingers on the crack". The other
reference I had to provide had to do with the "sleeping finger" - the middle
finger acting as a place for the pencil to "sleep on".... along with the area
between the thumb and index finger. We've only just started
using these basic references and I find they are already helping tremendously,
so, I'm hoping Zachary will master manipulating a pencil more quickly now.
I know he is behind his peers in this particular area and so, this is one I'll
be working on much more this year. Finding the "reference trick" -
it appears- was the key for Zachary. :o)
"Circle the right answer"
||Most children's materials for school start with
basic instructions like "circle the right answers". In
working with Zachary in a little school book, I found that his need for the
"all or nothing" was still there when new tasks were introduced.
For example, in working with the letter "b", Zachary was asked to circle all
objects that started with a "b". The pictures included:
bat, baseball, bed, butter, bow, bear, tree, shovel.
Well, one would expect Zachary to circle all the "b" words only... but, I
found he had to "do something" to all the pictures. So, he just
"made them fit". The tree, he called "a bush" as he circled it
(unfortunately, the author of these materials had shown a "bush" higher
up... so, Zachary of course just decided that if he wanted to circle this
"tree looking thing", he had to call it a "b" word - and that was "a bush".
Then, the author of these materials made another error in judgment - at
least in terms of having these materials used by children with autism -
:o) - the "shovel" had a brown handle... so, of course, to circle
that, all Zachary figured he had to say was "brown shovel".
Technically, he was right, the shovel did have a brown handle... and "brown"
was a "b word".
In order to help Zachary with this need to "do something" to all the
pictures - the "all or none problem" - and thereby giving "wrong answers"
(at least as a teacher would perceive them to be), I decided to do the
following when we worked on a new letter. Zachary is
really well beyond the "understand the letters" concepts... I really use
these books only to help teach him "following instructions" right now since
his language skills are well beyond the materials presented in these books.
Anyway, as far as the "instructions" issue, I would start by telling
Zachary, circle the "r" words and PUT A SQUARE around the "other" words (or
any other shape other than that being asked for to identify the "correct
answers"). "Put an X" on the wrong answer also seems to
work. That allows Zachary to "do something" to all the
pictures. Later, I hope to then be able to say, "let's just draw
the circles for now" and have him move away from the "need to do something
to all the pictures".
Again, worth noting was the "unprovoked crying"... when I noticed Zachary
starting to draw a circle around the "tree" when he was only supposed to
draw a circle around "b" words, I said: "no, that's not a "b" word"...
and the "unprovoked crying started" - if only briefly because he added right
away, "it's a bush"... so, again, his "reference" had been perceived by ME
as "incorrect" and he was trying to "find the right answer" for me.
Truly, living by reference! The key, in my opinion, is just to show
that there can be "many references" that are correct - not just one.
Unfortunately, schools tend to teach that "one right answer approach".
Is it any wonder our children lose all their creativity when they enter the
Also, I am careful to really try to understand Zachary's reasoning before
I give any indication that "his answer is not quite right". For
example, in working with the "letter m page" in this book, there were 4
pictures at the bottom, a milk carton, a mailman, money and mice.
Zachary easily identified the first 3 as "m" words. The gray
mice actually looked more like rats, so, he called those "rats".
I would never state that his answer here was wrong - clearly these could
easily be "rats". Another problem with the materials - the
author had presented a "cute little mouse" picture higher up - one Zachary
had clearly identified as "a mouse" or "m" word. So, to
introduce a gray rat-like mouse at the bottom, in my opinion, was an error
in judgment because clearly, Zachary's answer, in my opinion, was more
correct than the "correct answer" a teacher would have been looking for.
So, the lesson here - always understand the "reason behind the answer
given". The child may end up being more correct than you think!
It is ironic that adults constantly label these children as "inflexible"
and yet the same adults lack the flexibility the child has to see "the
difference" and lack the flexibility to allow for "another answer".
|Although I did not specifically mention this in the book
other than a brief line or two in the brain overview table, I knew Zachary's
visual processing was clearly impacted... and hence, I was certain he had
occipital lobe damage also. If you look at the table for the
brain overview, a couple of things are listed under the "damage to" section
for the occipital lobe that were clearly evident in Zachary.
Damage to the occipital lobe could result in the difficulty with objects in
motion as well as with hallucinations. I did not believe Zachary
suffered from hallucinations since he had been placed on enzymes to help
with the breakdown of casein and gluten, but I knew he still very much had
issues with the perception of motion... and as such, that part of the
occipital lobe was DEFINITELY impacted as explained in my book under the
section on Safety when I explained how Zachary could look down a street and
say 10 times that a car was coming... even if there was none... sensory
input in the form of visual input completely took a back seat to a past
||Recently, I heard Zachary after I
had put him down. He was complaining that he was "stuck" to his
bed and actually seemed to think that he "couldn't move". He was
rather distressed over this. I soon realized that his pajamas
had a great deal of static cling... as evidenced by the "sparks" in the
dark. The flannel sheets just made matters worse.
Anyway, he seemed to be much more sensitive to the static cling than would a
person who does not have autism. I put cotton sheets on and
changed him so that he would not feel the "static" as much but this was an
issue I did want to raise for all. I also made sure I explained to him
"what the problem was" by telling him that it was "static" as I spelled the
word static for him. Once he "knew" what "it was", his anxiety
went away immediately and he laughed as I changed him. :o)
Pretend Verses Reality
As It Relates To The Concept Of Self
As It Relates To Hyperactivity
|I found that if Zachary was constantly reminded of the
difference between "pretend" verses "the real", that his pretend play was
more "normal looking" than if I did not "point out" the difference between
real and pretend.
The issue of hyperactivity in autism is one all
parents seem to struggle with. It was only recently, however,
that I truly came to see something in Zachary that I now refer to as "the child in motion©"
... and that this, in my opinion, is much more than simply "hyperactivity".
What I recently noticed with Zachary was that imaginary or pretend play also very much
explained his "constant motion". I saw how, for Zachary, often,
what many would see as hyperactivity was but a form of imaginary
play involving obsessive or compulsive "motion"... and a rather dangerous one in my opinion. I
already had concerns over the child with autism pretending to be someone else, but
now, that concern - for me - has also come to include "pretend play" when it comes to
OBJECTS. Zachary often seems to want to totally ASSUME the
role of even objects... like a truck, a tornado, or anything else he may be
captivated with, either on tv or in his play activities... and he assumed
that role completely in both his vocalizations and his motions.
It is difficult to express what I mean here... in my opinion, there are
subtleties that are there and that are very difficult to explain to someone.
In my opinion, it was not "as if" Zachary was "pretending" to be certain
things... it was as though he truly felt he was these things. It
was a sense I felt that, for him, it was more than "just pretending"...
that feeling you get as a parent that something is not quite right.
Thus, in my opinion, Zachary's
"hyperactivity" was really a very serious type of pretend play that has not
been seen for what it truly was... a child assuming the identity of an object
and in the process, if not kept in check, perhaps slowly losing his own
Imagination and the concept of self are both located in the frontal
lobe... and the interaction of these functions, in some children with
in my opinion, may make for a very, very dangerous situation in that I truly believe,
at least in the case of children like Zachary, that through pretend play, he
could literally be at risk of losing his concept
Normal children pretend, but in autism, in my opinion, as I stated so often, it
is always a matter of "degrees"... and I found that Zachary did a great deal
of this and it was as if he was no longer Zachary when he engaged in these
activities... but rather insisted he was "the object" (i.e.,
the truck, etc.) of his fascination... it was more than "just
pretending" the way a normal child pretends!
This issue, in my opinion, obviously has serious implications in how
we deal with "hyperactivity" in children like Zachary, and perhaps other
children with autism experiencing similar problems with pretend play. Drugs, in my
opinion, can not be the answer to this issue. How do you stop pretend
play from becoming a child's reality? I did not believe there existed
any drug that could do that... the drugs we use today were there for
"hyperactivity"... they were not intended to stop, what in my
view, could be a very dangerous form of pretend play... a pretend play that,
in my opinion, may literally allow
the child with autism to lose his concept of self!
As far as Zachary was concerned, I was now, more than ever, determined
to very closely monitor any pretend play in my son and to make absolutely
sure Zachary was always told the difference between pretend play and
reality. When Zachary would try to assume any other identity, be that
as another person or as an object, I would make absolutely sure he was told
that he was Zachary and that he was only PRETENDING to be a truck but that
he was not a real truck. Perhaps showing him that he could not be
"loaded" like a dump truck by making objects fall behind him would help
reinforce the lesson that he was NOT REALLY a truck, etc. I
truly believed that more than a "verbal" reinforcement was needed... that
Zachary had to be PHYSICALLY SHOWN he was not "the pretend person" or
Reinforcing Zachary's concept of self was something I was very
conscious of each and every day. I played with him and "sniffed
him" (the role of "sniffing" was something I discussed in my books) as I said, "who is that?"... "oh, it's Zachary"... and when I asked
"who is that?"... I made sure he could answer too and tell me who he was.
This was a simple way to gauge his understanding of who he was.
Using pictures of Zachary and making sure he knew "who that was" was another
easy way to work on this area with him. Zachary is always referred to as Zachary... and ONLY Zachary... and that, in
my opinion, is critical in reinforcing the concept of self on a daily basis!
Thus, I am now of the opinion that "hyperactivity" in
Zachary, and perhaps many other children with autism, may
be explained by a combination of things:
1. Running away as a coping mechanism in dealing with issues of
partiality... things that do not make sense from a sensory input and
integration aspect. I now also see that "hyperactivity" is really not
hyperactivity in my son but rather obsessive compulsive, repetitive motion
(motor activity and obsessive thought are both in the frontal lobe).
2. That "hyperactivity" may truly, at times, be a very dangerous form of
pretend play in the child with autism whereby the child is in "constant motion"
pretending to "be" various things (i.e., truck, etc.) and that this could
interfere with the concept of self.
3. That there may be some actual "hyperactivity" in those
children who have dietary issues (i.e., too much sugar, too little
magnesium, parasites, etc.).
4. That hyperactivity may, in reality, be a form of "obsessive
compulsive behavior" whereby the child follows the same path or activity,
such as running back and forth, for example. Motion and obsessive
thought are both located in the frontal lobe and as such, it is my belief
that damage to the frontal lobe results in "repetitive thoughts and
motions"... and that this may be what we see as "hyperactivity".
In Zachary's case, that was a lot more than simply an issue of
"hyperactivity"!!! Again, in my opinion, there was much more there
than meets the eye!
There are many who would argue that pretend play is a necessary part
of life... a coping mechanism. While that is an interesting
observation, and may be true to an extent, the fact remains that as
we become adults, those whose lives involve a lot of "pretending" come
to be seen as almost having something "wrong with them"... and are perhaps even
labeled as "liars", etc. Again, in my opinion, it is all a matter of
"degree". For most adults, pretending tends to disappear as one gets
older... yet, for the mentally ill, as seen in so many cases, a lot of
"pretending" (i.e., talking to people who are not there) often takes over
one's life. As such, my intent here is simply to "flag this" as
a potentially very serious issue in autism.
SOME children with autism, in my opinion, may have taken
pretend play to an entirely new level... to a very dangerous level... a
level that may
actually cause them to lose their concept of self! In my
opinion, what so many of us once thought of as simply "hyperactivity"
may be much, much more than that... and much, much more serious!
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