Parent Observations...

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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..

Topic/Issue Observation
Unprovoked crying

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 described below).

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 speech.

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)

Pronoun Confusion

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 his understanding:

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.  :o)

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 past.  

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 card.  

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.  :o)

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 spectrum disorder).   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!  :o) 

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, etc.

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 The 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 thoughts/behaviors.

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!

 

Following Instructions

Motion And Safety

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 place.  

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.

Language Comprehension/

Reference 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 sentence.

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 belong together.

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!

 

Smell

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" - doesn't it! 

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."

Albert Einstein

 

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: http://www.shockwave.com/sw/content/tamalerumble2.  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 identification. 

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 either one. 

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 into this.

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 with.  

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!

Given that 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" involved colors.

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)

For 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!  :o)   The 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 case!  :o) 

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". :o)

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 school system! 

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.  :o)

So, the lesson here - always understand the "reason behind the answer given".  The child may end up being more correct than you think! :o)

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". 

 

Vision

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 memory!

 

Static Cling 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)

 

Imaginary Play

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 (or person) and in the process, if not kept in check, perhaps slowly losing his own identity

Imagination and the concept of self are both located in the frontal lobe... and the interaction of these functions, in some children with autism, 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 of self

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 "pretend object"!

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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Copyright 2002-2008 All materials I provide on this site including several key words and phrases are copyrighted materials.  All rights reserved.  Please see Use of Materials for more on this issue.  For general comments/questions, contact me at jbrohart@hotmail.com 

Things have a tendency to disappear on the Internet, but I can often find where the information has been moved or find replacement links addressing the same issue.  There is a lot of information provided on this site and any assistance with broken links is most appreciated.   My site has now been hacked twice.   If you get bounced to sites for online drugs, etc., report this to me at once using the above email as this is a result of hacking on my site.  This had nothing to do with me and/or my site.  Read more on hacking issue.

DISCLAIMER - The statements here mentioned and/or found in my materials have not been evaluated by the FDA or any other government agency or person in the medical field or in behavior therapy and are not meant to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any illness/disorder and/or behavior.  This information is not intended as medical advice or to replace the care of a qualified healthcare physician or behavior therapist.  Always consult your medical doctor or behavior therapist.  All information provided by Jeanne A. Brohart on her website is for INFORMATION PURPOSES and to GENERATE DISCUSSION ONLY and should not be taken as medical advice or any other type of "advice".  Information put forth represents the EXTENSIVE RESEARCH and OPINIONS of a mother based on her experiences and research and provides information as it relates to one family's journey with autism in hopes that other families may benefit from this experience and/or research.  The creator of this site is not responsible for content on other sites.

DISCLAIMER - PART II - Now... for those of you who think "mother at home researching" means "uneducated person with unfounded information"... I have 10 years of university... 3 degrees... and over 30,000 hours of research into these areas.   For anyone who thinks my research is "unfounded"...  read the RESEARCH FILE posted on my home page... with its over 1,000 references ... for your reading pleasure... because... quite clearly... you haven't read it yet!    

Autismhelpforyou.com   Breaking The Code - Putting Pieces In Place!