The Difficulty Of Socialization… Behavioral Problems… And Difficult Social Issues…
UPDATE: Also make sure you read the critical information on FACE BLINDNESS as a possible issue in socialization for children with autism.
Given the many issues with emotions and emotion control, the painful realization that Zachary appeared to have a brain with parts that worked almost independently of one another and in my opinion, the fact that children with autism lived “via reference” it was obviously not surprising that children like Zachary had difficulty with conversation and socialization.
Both of these involved a great deal of flexibility and unless a child had enough “references” or memories to draw from for a given situation or part to a conversation, it was in my opinion, no wonder that these activities became almost impossible tasks for Zachary. There was, however, no doubt in my mind that - with time - even these seemingly impossible tasks would become easier and easier for Zachary as he gained more and more “references” to draw from and built more and more memories to help in this area of socialization. As with so many things in life, this truly was a matter of gaining enough experience and exposure in order to become “more fluent” in these tasks, in order to have “more variation” in terms of possible responses and as such, in order to learn to become – more flexible.
Given Zachary had trouble with the perception of objects in motion (i.e., other children), that certainly only further complicated matters when it came to issues of socialization.
In my opinion, perhaps the best way to help children with autism in these areas was again via computer instruction. The computer could activate all parts of the brain pretty well at once and hence, this was the most efficient and effective means of teaching children with autism. Conversation and socialization issues – at least the basics – could certainly be taught via specialized software that provided “many references” for various situations – many examples of “acceptable responses” given certain conversation or socialization “basics”.
In my opinion, most current therapy methods failed the autistic child in this regard because they involved much fewer parts of the brain than could be activated on the computer. There was no doubt that human interaction was necessary for these children, however, so was the rebuilding of “connections”. Without the brain “reconnecting” damaged areas, the child would continue to struggle much more than if those connections were encouraged by activating as many parts of the brain as possible.
Production of language was co-located with motor activity. As such, I truly believed that motor functions had to be used also, and hence, exercises and playground time were in my opinion, critical for these children, as were art and/or music. Music therapy had been shown helpful in autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. Yet, this was usually one of the first things “cut” in school programs. The alternative – again – was computers – and the incorporation of music, preferably – classical - into software. Classical music had – in study after study – been shown to help activate the brain in a positive manner.
In my opinion, when it came to “social norms” we also had to re-evaluate “what was needed in school”. Children were still being taught cursive writing, for example. Quite frankly, as long as Zachary could eventually sign his name, any other “cursive writing” was but “fluff” – in my opinion, completely unnecessary. These children were being raised in the computer age – the age of handheld everything – calculators, email, calendars, etc. Printing was just fine for getting through the basics needed when it came to actually “writing” anything. So, why bother with “cursive writing”? For Zachary, his time and effort was much better spent elsewhere!
The same was true of many subjects. Did Zachary really have to memorize history? He could find out anything he needed to from a computer when it came to history. Reading it – yes – to get a basic understanding, but memorizing it – in my opinion, there was very little need to do so. The same was true of geography. Yes, he needed a basic understanding of geography, but he certainly did not need to memorize all the countries, their capitals, etc. In my opinion that was a complete waste of time. To those who disagreed with my views on these issues, I suggested you take a random sampling of the American population – or say, persons in Congress or the Senate – and quiz them on geography and history. I think that none of us would be surprised to see how little these persons remembered of even their own American history. After all, it appeared many in the Congress and Senate believed that “separation of church and state” was part of the first amendment or some other founding document – and clearly – this was not the case!
To expect children today to memorize so much information was in my opinion, simply insane and quite frankly, worthless. I had spent countless hours memorizing tax code information in college. I had a professor who insisted his classes memorize close to sixteen pages of fine print depreciation tables. Yet, when I went to this man’s office to ask him a simple depreciation question based on these tables, he could not answer it. That was very eye opening in and of itself. This man was the “accountant” and yet, he did not know “the basics” himself but required all his students to memorize all this? Why? There were programs to do that today! There was simply no need for this – and the same, in my opinion was true of a great deal of what we required of students today – and certainly true of what was expected of persons who suffered from things like autism. Quite frankly, I could care less if Zachary learned cursive writing or memorized all the state capitals – although I had no doubt he could learn geography much better than many “normal” adults. I, personally, would be very surprised to find even one percent of the US population able to list from memory all fifty states and their capitals.
As a parent of a child with autism, I preferred to see Zachary’s time spent on much more useful and practical things – those things that would make a difference in his life – things like the role playing of various “social situations” and “conversations”, and safety training – things that were much more critical to Zachary than skills like “cursive writing”.
There was simply no denying that even a computer could be used to teach “socialization” and concepts such as “taking turns”. Indeed, Zachary had often sat with his sister at the same computer and “taken turns”.
If children with autism had issues with visual perception as it related to “objects in motion”, obviously, “seeing” other children in a playground situation would in and of itself possibly be a problem.
In my second book, Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism: When The Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost!, I had explained how, in looking at Zachary, almost everything in his behavior and his frustrations could be explained by the fact that the had to understand the “parts” first in order to then understand “the whole”. Zachary’s focus on the “parts” to so much had been so clearly evident to me. One of the articles I had read on schizophrenia simply another shade of autism, had truly shown just how similar these disorders really were. In this article, persons with schizophrenia explained what their world was like in terms of how they processed information. Indeed, I encouraged all parents of children with autism and family members of those with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s to read this article as it would provide a very good indication of how persons with autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, were perhaps - also perceiving their world.
This article, entitled Context And Cognition In Schizophrenia, by Robert J. van den Bosch, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Groningen, published in Boer, J.A. den, Westenberg, H.G.M. and Praag, H.M. van (Eds.), Advances in the neurobiology of schizophrenia. Chichester, Wiley, 1994.Sch., at http://php.iupui.edu/~flip/reading15.html had expressed what many children with severe autism could perhaps also be experiencing. Below were but a few very telling quotes from this article – things that in my opinion, sounded very much – like autism!
Perceptual dysfunction can be measured by cognitive tasks, but it is also among the most typical subjective experiences of the early stages of schizophrenia (Cutting and Dunne, 1989). There are many patients who describe a fragmentation of their sensory experiences: There were a lot of meaningless details around me (...) I lacked the overall view. I saw fragments only (...) In fact, I am already wrong when I say that I saw everything, since these things presented themselves differently from otherwise. They were not included in a large context, but they were meaningless details (Matussek, 1952). Sometimes the visual world quite literally 'decomposes'. Disintegration may also be apparent in a lack of perspective, or in a disconnection between external percepts and a corresponding inner feeling. Moving around changes the environment and makes it particularly difficult to integrate details into context: Everything is in bits. You put the picture up bit by bit into your head. It's like a photograph that's torn in bits and put together again. You have to absorb it again. If you move it's frightening. The picture you had in your head is still there but it's broken up. If I move there's a new picture that I have to put together again (McGhie en Chapman, 1961). No wonder patients tend to keep things frozen, to fixate their eyes, to stop moving. This might be one cause of catatonic symptoms: I am in search of immobility (....) I aim at tranquillity and motionlessness. I also tend to stop life around me. That's why I like durable objects (...), things that stay forever, that never change (Minkowski, 1953). Different kinds of sensory input are no longer interconnected. The fragmentation of experiences that are self-evident and automatic under normal conditions is a major cause of feelings of derealization…[end of quote - Context And Cognition In Schizophrenia, by Robert J. van den Bosch, http://php.iupui.edu/~flip/reading15.html].
I had found this article after completing my second book. It was only upon completing the second book I had written that I had come to see so many parallels between Alzheimer’s and autism and given I knew autism had once been called “childhood schizophrenia”, I had also decided to then research the many parallels between autism and schizophrenia – as I could find them today. There could simply be no denying that the parallels were absolutely there – as was the common history of these disorders! The above article certainly provided insights as to why so many children with autism hated to go “outside their world” and absolutely feared any change in their environment.
Furthermore, the above article also confirmed my suspicions that the integration of the parts into the whole was a key issue in schizophrenia – just as I had suspected it was in my own son who had autism. In my opinion, this above reference best showed that perhaps one of the most dysfunctional or non-working parts of the brain in autism and schizophrenia – and I suspected perhaps also in Alzheimer’s although I had yet to find literature on that – was that function in the brain that appeared to be located in the parietal lobe and integrated sensory information in order to allow for the understanding of single concepts! So much of what I had seen in my son Zachary had been explained by the fact that if the “parts” were not understood – in very minute detail – then “the whole” – the concept or the perception of an object, etc. – was simply – lost!
There could obviously be two reasons as to why this part of the brain did not appear to be working. 1) Either “the parts”- sensory input - were not making it to this part of the brain even though the function in this part of the brain was intact and working properly, or 2) The “parts” – sensory input – made it to this section of the brain but the function itself was impaired. In my opinion, from what I had seen in Zachary, the more likely scenario was the first because some things were obviously being integrated while others clearly were not! Of course I had no way of knowing for sure.
In my opinion, before children with autism were assessed and given “failing grades” for “socialization” – or anything -perhaps it was time we addressed the underlying issues that prevented them from properly functioning in this capacity in the first place. A child had to be taught to crawl and then walk before he could even consider running a marathon!
“Grading” children with autism – especially in matters of “socialization” or “interaction” - in my opinion, was simply insanity especially since our school materials were clearly not geared to the autistic – children who faced so many underlying challenges that had to first be addressed. If anyone deserved a failing grade, in so much relating to children with autism, certainly that had to be our social and school systems and the overall lack of understanding of the many issues faced by these children.
Autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s had for too long been very misunderstood in many respects, and society was due for a major overhaul in how it helped persons with these disorders.
The word “socialize” meant a great deal more than to simply participate in a “social gathering”. To socialize also meant, - “to adapt to social needs or uses” - according to Webster’s New Dictionary of the English Language. In my opinion, if anyone had failed in “socialization matters” and failed to “adapt to the needs of those with mental illness”, it certainly was – society!
When it came to these disorders, there could simply be no denying that our lack of knowledge had made it such that most often, it appeared we truly misunderstood persons afflicted by these disorders. Society seemed to have a tendency to shy away from what it failed to understand. Thoughts and behaviors that were not understood were simply labeled as “wrong” or “bad” or “unimportant” or “insignificant” – only further adding to the confusion and stigmas associated with these disorders. If language made no sense, we simply labeled it as “nonsense language”. Behaviors that were not socially acceptable were labeled as “inappropriate”.
Certainly, there was no doubt that a behavior could be “socially inappropriate”, but did that mean that the behavior was “inappropriate” based on brain structure and function and damage to those areas? Perhaps if we looked not at the surface issues but those issues underlying the “inappropriate behaviors” we would find that these behaviors, given the situation, were very much “appropriate” not based on social norms but based on brain impairment. Although society saw so many of the behaviors in mental illness as “inappropriate”, the simple fact was that it very much appeared that to the person who was mentally ill –for that person - there was “no other way” to “normally” behave perhaps because their brain simply could not allow them to behave otherwise. How could you explain to a person that something was “inappropriate” when that was the way their brain “made things work”? This would certainly be a difficult task indeed. Obviously, the issue was not one of “their will” to behave in inappropriate ways. The issue was one of moving away from such behaviors – behaviors that due to frontal lobe damage often became obsessive!
Unfortunately, as I considered these “inappropriate” or socially offensive behaviors, it was clear to me that society’s way of dealing with such matters was simply to say: “you don’t do that” and where we failed miserably was in providing the example of “what you do instead”.
If indeed these persons lived “via reference”, to simply state: “You don’t do that!” did nothing to provide “the acceptable reference” to replace that which was not acceptable.
The easiest example of this obviously had to do with socially acceptable sexual behaviors. It had been very well documented that persons with mental illness often had unacceptable sexual behaviors. The most basic of these were obviously inappropriate verbalizations of a sexual nature or inappropriate gestures such as public masturbation. There was no doubt that inappropriate verbalizations referencing sexual matters could certainly catch one “off guard” and as a result of that, it certainly could be easy to be focused on the “emotional reaction” to the offense. Yet overcoming these issues perhaps required not “avoidance” or “reprimand”, but the offering of “an alternative” to the offensive utterance – a more “socially acceptable” utterance or explanation of the “what you say instead” after the “reprimand” had been given – in the form of an explanation – especially given the many issues with “overall communication” in these disorders.
There was no doubt that these issues were difficult ones to deal with – for both sides, yet, it was clearly the role of the person who did not suffer from the disorder to keep things in perspective and always consider matters of “intent” verses actual inability to possibly control these behaviors or utterances due to brain damage.
The simple fact was that young children with autism and elderly persons with Alzheimer’s, for example, who engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviors certainly were not “at the height” of their sexuality and hence there had to be more to these behaviors and their control – or lack of - than simply “sexual desire” or “drive”. In my opinion, there could be no doubt that these inappropriate behaviors were also very much attributable to brain damage.
The issue of inappropriate sexual behavior was one I had only very limited experience with. I very much believed, however, that this, too, could somehow be explained based on brain structure and function and a lack of proper communication among the various parts of the brain.
In every child’s life there came a time when s/he became aware of her/his sexuality. I suspected inappropriate sexual behavior in children with autism was more of an issue for boys than girls due simply to their physical nature. As a child became more aware and curious about his body, it was natural to touch that body. Motor activity and memory associated with motor activity were located in the frontal lobe. An indication of frontal lobe damage was obsessive thought. In my opinion, there could be no denying that frontal lobe damage appeared to play into things such as “inappropriate sexual behavior”.
Likewise, in Alzheimer's, these functions – motor activity and memory associated with learned motor tasks - also resided in the frontal lobe. The adult with Alzheimer’s, unlike the child with autism, however, in all likelihood, had sexual experiences in life. Emotions possibly associated with a sexual experience appeared to reside in the temporal lobe or the amygdale (perception of emotion in others) - totally different parts of the brain. The control of emotions, however, resided in the frontal lobe. If one had damage to the frontal lobe, it appeared damage would result in obsessive, compulsive behavior and motor activity. Damage to the amygdale was clearly noted in these disorders and as such, persons engaging in these behaviors were most likely not even perceiving that their behaviors were offensive to others. With the "wiping away" of the adult memory in Alzheimer’s, it appeared memory tied to “appropriate” sexual behavior was "wiped away" too. In order to understand “what was appropriate” sexual behavior one had to have a “memory” of something that had at one time been learned to be “appropriate” or “inappropriate”. If that memory was gone, appropriate sexual behavior needed to be "re-learned".
It was interesting to note that those with Alzheimer's also manifested inappropriate sexual verbalizations. Note that language production was also located in the frontal lobe. Again, if I was correct in my theory that the functions within a specific area of the brain were magnified and "communicated more" to compensate for the lack of communication among the various parts of the brain, then, this also made sense since functions of language production (i.e., verbalizations) could be very much inter-related with inappropriate actions, thoughts, etc. in the individual. Also, note that the concept of self was located in the frontal lobe. It was again well known that persons with these disorders had a poor concept of self and were often unable to recognize family members as well. This certainly could help explain why inappropriate sexual advances/behaviors/language could be directed at anyone – including family members – and there was no doubt that something such as incest or anything that could even remotely be perceived as sexual interest in a family member was also a tremendous and socially unacceptable offense.
Finally, changes in social behavior and variability in mood/emotions were also signs of frontal lobe damage. This again, would seem to fit well into this analysis since sexual advances/behaviors/language could be "quite abrasive" and/or forceful in these individuals and thus, results in what was perceived by "normal persons" as very inappropriate social behavior and "mood problems" associated with that behavior or that language production. Thus, again, almost all functions in the frontal lobe seemed to be related to this problem and hence, once again, appeared to confirm my belief that functions within a specific part of the brain were perhaps much more inter-related than we could ever have imagined.
There was another factor that I believed could also be at play here – as it related to inappropriate sexual behavior. Given that the perception of motion was known to be impaired in individuals with autism, inappropriate sexual behavior could also result from one's attempt at "breaking the code" to "motion" or “how things work”.
The simple fact was that some sexual body parts could "move" somewhat. A breast could move somewhat and so could a penis. Perhaps a curiosity in understanding "motion" associated with "these" objects (i.e., why did a penis become erect) could result in simple manipulation to discover the answer to that - at least in the beginning. Yet, obviously, as that behavior was engaged in more repetitively - even if not obsessive, at first, there then came a "feeling" associated with that motion and behavior. If one then looked at the parietal lobe functions the matter was only further complicated. Parietal lobe functions included touch and manipulation of objects. Obviously, a body part could be considered “an object”. Thus, if these functions were more inter-related than possibly ever imagined, could that mean that the more one touched an object, the more one would want to manipulate it? In my opinion, that could certainly very much be the case. Now, more than ever, I suspected the “sense” in a particular lobe could actually serve as some kind of “trigger” for other functions in that lobe.
As stated earlier, inappropriate sexual behavior was something I had only very limited experience with when it came to Zachary (age 5). Zachary had really engaged in very little of this. It was only recently that I even noticed any “inappropriate” type of behavior.
What I had noticed, however, was that he was not in any way obsessed with sexuality at this point. Right now, he was just a normal five year old that touched his penis now and then when he sat on the potty for any length of time as I attempted to potty train him. Truly, the “touching” appeared to be more a function of boredom at first than anything when he had done it. Of course, he had noticed that as he touched himself, his penis became erect... something he appeared to find rather "funny" at this time given it clearly made him laugh a little as he pushed his penis down and let it “spring” back up. Yet, I believed this sense of "funny" was tied more to issues of motion than any sexual experience he could be having. I had, of course, no way of knowing for sure. I had seen Zachary use other objects and allow them to “spring back” and finding that a very funny thing to do.
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 believed I was the only one who had 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 had only attempted a few quick pats on a couple of occasions. I was now aware of this issue in autism and I was very careful in discouraging any inappropriate sexual behavior right away because I did believe that if not discouraged, it could obviously lead to a much more complicated situation down the road.
As I considered this mild “inappropriate sexual behavior” in Zachary, I truly believed that in the very young child with autism, such behaviors could actually stem from "curiosity" in terms of how motion worked because in Zachary, I had noticed he wanted to touch/manipulate anything that moved - whether that was a gadget or his penis becoming erect. In my opinion, children with autism were constantly trying to "break the code" to understand their world. Given so many children with autism had limited communication skills and hence, perhaps did not understand “the limits” in terms of what was “appropriate” or “not appropriate” to touch, I could see how simple curiosity - as I believed was true for spinning - could become obsessive compulsive behavior given brain structure and function and what happened as a result of damage to a specific area - the frontal lobe - associated with motor functions, and obsessive compulsive thoughts/behaviors. In Zachary, certainly, matters relating to anything sexual were not in the “obsessive-compulsive” realm at all. Only on very, very few occasions had he done anything that involved anything of a “sexual nature”. The extent of my experience with sexual behavior in Zachary had been limited to that – his touching his penis while on the potty and that one or two times he had attempted to “pat” my breast quickly.
It was interesting to note that the "quick patting" of my breast that Zachary did try to do on one or two occasions was 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!
Also, human sexuality had long been believed to be associated with memory and the sense of smell. Note that both memory (as it related to motor activity) and the sense of smell (olfactory cortex) resided in the frontal lobe (the very lobe associated with obsessive compulsive behavior/thought and motor activity) and in the temporal lobe as well (olfactory processing and memory associated non-motor functions). The temporal lobe included functions associated with face and voice recognition, understanding of language, auditory and olfactory processing, categorization of objects, some visual perception and the ability to distinguish between truth and a lie. Damage to the temporal lobe resulted in selective attention in terms of sight and sound, difficulty understanding spoken word, issues with sexual interest, short term memory loss and interference with long term memory, emotional issues (increased aggression), difficulty in face recognition, categorization issues and persistent talking (right temporal lobe damage). Thus, it certainly appeared that damage to both the temporal and frontal lobes could be at play in inappropriate sexual behavior in persons with autism, schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s.
In my second book, Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism: When The Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost!, I had mentioned that it appeared that the “senses” found within a specific region of the brain could actually be used to “trigger” functions previously thought to be unrelated (i.e., that smells could trigger language, that touch could trigger object manipulation). The fact that “touch” and “manipulation of objects were co-located in the parietal lobe certainly seemed to fit into this theory. In other words, if one “touched something”, it was my belief that this could actually “trigger” “more touching” and that one of those types of “touching” could be “manipulation of objects” – and objects certainly could include “body parts”.
I also believed this to be the case due to the fact that if Zachary engaged in spinning, all I had to do was take the object away – and thus separate the hand - or touch - from the object manipulated and Zachary’s attention could easily be diverted to more productive activities.
I had thought about issues surrounding “spinning of objects” a great deal. Most of my thoughts on this issue had been 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!, and given the extensive discussion in this text, I was not going to reproduce that discussion here, yet there were some things – a few more “nuances” I felt might be part of the “fascination” with spinning. Certainly, I still felt that spinning provided a means to make the “parts” become part of the whole. But, there was something else about spinning that I had just realized in looking at Zachary as he engaged in this activity recently. The intensity of “spinning” was obviously not always the same. In the past, intensity had been much greater than it was today when it came to spinning. Now, Zachary’s spinning was much less intense and could simply be at a very, very slow spin as Zachary closely watched say, the wheels of a car, moving slowly over the carpet.
It was this “slower turning” that again made me think… there had to be - something else – something more to spinning than what I had already come to understand – although I truly, still felt matters of incorporating “parts into the whole” were a huge part of this issue as discussed in my second book.
I now wondered if this “slower turning” or “slow spinning” I saw in Zachary could simply be his attempt at figuring out motion. There was no doubt that Zachary had major issues with motion perception and when he moved a toy car, ever so slowly along the carpet, he focused intensely on the motion of the wheels. It was as he did this recently that something else had occurred to me as it related to spinning. Spinning provided the opportunity to see motion as part of a stationary object. A ceiling fan, for example, had both spinning and stationary parts. A toy car had both moving and stationary parts. These activities provided for Zachary motion “within a reference point” that did not change – motion within an object that could be completely or almost completely stationary – motion within a reference point. For example, a toy that could have a “mix” – providing some parts that moved and involved motions, while clearly others did not, certainly could provide a fascination for a child who had difficulty in understanding motion – could it not? Motion, with its many variations, could certainly be rather intriguing – especially to a child trying to “break the code” to “motion”. As such, more and more, I became convinced that activities involving “spinning” – be that slow or fast – could be attempts at understanding motion, coping mechanisms for dealing with partiality when the parts to the whole were not understood, and also, as the child engaged more in the activity, obsessive-compulsive behavior.
When it came to matters of “spinning” and “breaking the code” to how motion worked, I found it rather challenging in that, if I had to make Zachary understand motion, it seemed I had to explain basic laws of physics to him. Explaining laws of physics as they relate to “energy”, velocity, etc. to a five-year-old in simple terms he could possibly understand certainly would be challenging. I had started to explain to Zachary that his finger pushing an object provided energy… I then showed him there were many forms of energy – electricity – as I turned on the ceiling fan – heat – as I boiled water and showed him how the vapor could move a balloon, etc. – always saying that all these were different types of energy. He repeated “energy” as I went about doing these things. This one, I had to admit was still very much a challenge for me.
Note that visual attention was also found with “touch perception” and “manipulation of objects” in the parietal lobe and the interaction of these things, certainly could play into this as well. If I were correct and the various parts of the brain were much more inter-related than possibly ever imagined and that the “sense” within a specific area could actually “trigger” other functions in that part of the brain, that would mean that the sense of touch, could - potentially – trigger object manipulation and matters of visual attention. In other words, the more I touched something, the more I would want to touch that object, the more I touched that object, the more motion it could produce. Visual attention was very much associated with motion and as such, the primary focus of one’s visual attention could certainly turn to say – a spinning object or object moving slowly – like a toy car along the carpet.
In my opinion, activities such as “spinning” should be kept to a minimum because I now truly believed that the more a child engaged in such activities – the more he would want to do them!
I think that given the functions found in the frontal lobe (motor activity and memory associated with motor activity and the fact that frontal lobe damage resulted in obsessive thought and in all likelihood, obsessive behavior since motor activity was also in frontal lobe, and given parietal lobe function of touch and manipulation of objects were co-located the possibility was certainly there for spinning or other “motor activities” (i.e., inappropriate sexual activity) involving the sense of touch and manipulation of objects to become “obsessive”! Activities involving touch and object manipulation, were after all “motor tasks” and that, could very much then trigger activities in the frontal lobe.
Could what had started, as idle curiosity in a child to understand motion become obsessive and inappropriate behavior/thought/activity as “motor activities” in the frontal lobe increased and perhaps as such, motion and obsessive thought became associated with an activity that had – at first – perhaps simply involved the parietal lobe and the need to “break the code” - to motion?
Another thing I had noticed in Zachary was that he did not appear to have an issue with locating objects in his environment. If asked to “go get something”, he could easily locate that object and bring it to me. Likewise, Zachary could easily perceive motion on his computer. The computer itself was not moving – the object in his environment – only the activity on the computer itself involved motion – and he could perceive that just fine. It appeared that the combination of “locating objects in one’s environment” plus motion involving that specific object (for example – a car in motion – where the object in the environment itself was moving) was the issue for Zachary. It was those things he truly had problems with – things that involved perceiving an object in motion – when that object was part of his environment (i.e., like the bull in the pen example I had provided in my second book).
Issues with motion perception were a sign of occipital lobe damage. As one tried to understand "motion", clearly, functions in the other areas of the brain were still “going on” – even if independently from those in the occipital lobe. If one began to engage in activities to understand motion, those "activities" (i.e., be that inappropriate sexual behavior or spinning for example) take the form of motor functions (frontal lobe). Motor functions and memory associated with those motor activities were located in the frontal lobe - along with "obsessive thought" that could result due to frontal lobe damage. Thus the more one did something (motor activity) and a memory of that motor activity was formed, the more one would want to engage in that activity (obsessive compulsive thought/motion) given my theory that all functions within a specific area of the brain were more inter-related than we may have thought and that to compensate for poor communication across lobes, the brain impacted by autism, schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s may have magnified activity/communication within a specific region/lobe.
If communication within the frontal lobe was magnified, that meant that motor activity in relation to actual activity, future activity, habits, etc. would be magnified, too. Hence, if there was damage to the frontal lobe - resulting in persistent thoughts – in my opinion, there could be damage to "motor activity" too, in the sense that motor activities would become "persistent" too given the increased or magnified communication within the frontal lobe itself. As such, in autism, persistent thoughts were accompanied by persistent motions/actions. The fact that memory associated with motor activity and future motor activity planning and execution were also in the frontal lobe, certainly also seemed to support this theory. In other words, current persistent or obsessive thoughts and activities certainly would impact future motor planning and execution as it related to motor activity. In other words, the more you did something, the more you would want to do that something in the future – from both a thought and motor activity perspective.
Now for the very poignant question? Could this also explain serial rapists? Serial killers? If my theory was correct and communication between the lobes was actually very limited whereas communication within a lobe was magnified one could literally commit a crime - and not remember having done so.
Given that damage to the frontal lobe resulted in "persistent thought" and, it very much appeared, "persistent activity", could it be that serial rapists and serial killers... serial anything... could be suffering from this type of damage? If this were true, there were some very serious implications here for society in terms of those on death row... and in terms of preventing future tragedies in the lives of many in society. A tragedy indeed - for all members of society! Again, this was simply my opinion. You were free to agree or disagree with it, but this certainly could explain a great deal in terms of why it was so difficult to rehabilitate criminal offenders and why so many were "repeat" offenders.
Indeed, I had found information showing that possibly up to sixty percent of “sociopaths” in one study exhibited frontal lobe damage (obsessive compulsive behavior) in MRI scans. In my opinion, an MRI was not something “you could fake” and as such based on what I had seen in my son in terms of the lack of apparent communication among the various parts of the brain and the fact that it seemed to explain so much of what I had seen in Zachary, there certainly was in my opinion, reason to believe that this lack of communication among the various parts of the brain could also be a problem in other persons with mental illness – and those persons certainly could include those on death row.
I was not by any means saying that all criminals were innocent and victims of mental illness or brain damage, but, based on what I had come to understand in my son it certainly was a possibility that some were suffering from brain damage. I was not saying they were “innocent” of their crimes. The issue was not whether or not they had committed the crime – it was whether or not they remembered having done so and whether or not they had the ability to control their emotions because “emotions” were in the temporal lobe/amygdale part of the brain and “control” of emotions resided in a separate area – the frontal lobe and hence, if there existed little or no communication among those parts of the brain, then one really had to question “ability to control” emotions in such situations – at least in my opinion.
Did I believe all criminals were victims of mercury poisoning - obviously not! Did I believe some were? I think the possibility was certainly there!
Every member of society had to decide for himself whether or not this appeared to be plausible – in my view, it was certainly a huge issue. In my opinion, this was a huge dilemma indeed. Everything I had come to understand in Zachary made me believe that certainly, some of our worst criminal offenders could be suffering from frontal lobe damage, however, I also realized that if that were the case, there could, it appeared, be no thought of “setting them free” because frontal lobe damage resulting in obsessive-compulsive behavior, it appeared, would only make it much, much more likely for these persons to - again - commit potentially horrendous crimes against society in the future.
The even more poignant question...however, if I were correct in this, was: “How do we prevent FUTURE tragedies if this indeed was true? Could my son one day end up on death row because of his brain damage? The thought of that ripped my heart apart more than anything I had ever dealt with thus far in terms of matters relating to autism and so many of these other disorders.
I knew that this issue – like so many others – had the potential to ignite fierce debates within society. Persons with mental illness, according to studies done, were no more likely to commit crimes than anyone else in society. Had these studies taken into consideration what I called “the watch factor”? My son was basically never out of my sight or that of my husband.
What troubled me most in all this was the fact that I knew many persons could be suffering, for example, from mercury poisoning due to vaccinations, amalgams or other reasons, and yet, basically be considered “normal” by the general population. Given so many in society were mercury poisoned, that had the potential to put tens of thousands in criminal institutions or possibly on death row if the possibility was truly there that one could literally commit a crime – and not remember having done so. With frontal lobe damage resulting in obsessive-compulsive behavior and thought, and in my opinion, the fact that functions within a specific part of the brain could be much more inter-related than we ever could have imagined – meaning that motor activity, planning and execution and obsessive thought could be much more inter-related than we ever imagined, all of this – potentially - made for a very, very nasty situation indeed!
The fact that memories were formed often as a result of repetition just complicated matters given memory tied learned motor activities (i.e., riding a bike, or "things that were automatic once learned) were in the frontal lobe but "other memories" (short term and long term memory acquisition functions) appeared to be in the temporal lobe, along with emotions. Thus, if my theory was correct, one could – potentially - have an emotion (temporal lobe) and a memory associated with that emotion (temporal lobe) but be unable to control that emotion (frontal lobe) or remember (temporal lobe) motor activity (frontal lobe) based on that emotion (temporal lobe). Yet, the motor activity (frontal lobe) could be associated with obsessive thought and/or behaviors (due to frontal lobe damage) and with repetition only become more and more – obsessive!
For more on this, I encouraged all readers to read my second book, Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism: When The Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost!
There had been so many issues I had greatly debated on as to whether or not to include in my materials – and this had certainly been an issue I had struggled with when I first came to realize the implications of lack of proper communication between the various parts of the brain.
Yet, as a parent of a child with autism, I preferred to know “ahead of time” what I could potentially be facing down the road in order to start working on any issues – now. If another parent had come to suspect what I now suspected, I knew I would have wanted that parent to tell me since my son’s chances of overcoming any potential issue with this were obviously much greater the earlier the issues were addressed.
There had been enough “hiding from the issues”. That would not be something, I, personally, and morally, could engage in. I now had a great deal of hope for my son, but that hope was based on understanding the issues – first and foremost – and working at addressing them!
In my opinion, the implications of all this for society, were overwhelming. If indeed vaccinations, and/or mercury amalgams or iron overload had caused these disorders and these had been promoted/approved by our government agencies and the FDA – an agency that clearly knew of the dangers of mercury and yet had failed to warn the public of the dangers of dental amalgams, was it “justice” to then perhaps throw a victim of mercury poisoning who suffered from brain damage – in jail?
I certainly was not advocating releasing these prisoners. Clearly, my suspicions made me think persons with frontal lobe damage who had committed crimes could – perhaps - only continue to do so given damage to this part of the brain resulted in obsessive thoughts/ behaviors.
My intent here was simply to raise an issue. If indeed the pharmaceuticals and government agencies involved in vaccination, health and dental health programs knew of the effects of mercury on the human brain, then one truly had to ask: Who really belonged in jail? – and, - also ask: “Where were the subpoenas to finally get to the bottom of these issues?” Had subpoenas not been issued because of the truths they would reveal in so many of these matters? With tens of thousands of parents now pointing the finger to vaccines as the cause of their children’s autism, was it not “odd” that indeed subpoenas had not been issued in these matters?
All of these issues, I knew, certainly had the potential to ignite fierce debates in society. Yet, in looking at my son, there had simply been too much explained by the theory of lack of communication among the various parts of the brain. The University of Calgary video on neural degeneration due to low level mercury exposure ran through my mind many times as I considered all of this. Seeing mercury destroy neurons and shrinking them to approximately half their original size as it had done on that video only further solidified my suspicions that the connections in my son’s brain could have been – potentially – very seriously severed – to the point that Zachary’s individual brain parts could no longer properly communicate with one another. So much in Zachary had been explained by this theory of little or no communication among the various parts of the brain.
Mercury, nitric oxide, iron overload, viruses… certainly, I was no scientist, but, from everything I had read, all in my opinion, could have contributed to this severing of connections in the brain – individually or in combination. I knew that somehow, something had caused a great deal of damage in my son – and now, every day, I lived with the results of that damage – and sought to understand it to better help my son.
Zachary certainly had his share of “obsessive behaviors” – as did almost all children with autism, and persons with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s – and persons with many other disorders as well. Matters relating to obsessive behaviors” certainly had the potential to run the entire spectrum – helping perhaps to explain some of our worst crimes and some of our most apparently “trivial” obsessions –like spinning.
Obsessive behaviors, in Zachary had taken on many forms… spinning had been the most obvious. In the past, he had also been obsessed with turning all the lights either all on or all off. I still believed this behavior could very much be an issue with “partiality processing" as explained in my second book because there was usually not an "in between" there. It was usually "all or none" and the fact that this became an obsessive behavior also made me think that this had a great deal to do with – primarily – frontal lobe damage as opposed to say “categorization” issues. Note that motor activity, memory tied to motor activity and obsessive thought were all located in the frontal lobe.
As I thought about “obsessive-compulsive behavior”, I could not help but wonder if it could be expressed not only in the strong desire to “do” something but also perhaps in the strong desire “not to do” something. We certainly knew someone could be obsessed with “doing something”. But, could someone be obsessed with “refusing to do something”? The reason I had asked myself that was due to the fact that Zachary, at age five, and soon to be six, was still not potty trained. Many children with autism were nine, ten, eleven, and even twelve or older – and still not potty trained.
I had discussed certain issues as they related to potty training in my second book, Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism: When Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost! Since then, I had the opportunity to look a little more closely at issues surrounding this subject of – potty training!