The Autistic Brain - When The Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost!
What’s Going On In The Autistic Brain?
General Overview Of Brain Structure And Function
Explaining So Much In The Autistic Child Based On Brain Structure And Function Alone!!!
ONLINE VIDEO From University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine Showing
Neural Degeneration Due To Mercury Exposure (toward bottom of this section)
Before I could explain to parents what I believed to be going on in the autistic brain, I felt it was necessary to provide for all parents a very, very basic overview of the brain.
The human brain has two hemispheres joined by a mass of fibers in the middle, known as the corpus callosum. This mass of fibers allowed the two hemispheres to speak to one another. The two hemispheres of the human brain were further subdivided into regions called “lobes”. Specifically, the brain had four lobes:
Although I would not
attempt to cover all parts of the brain, there were a few other key areas that
would help to explain the issues going on in the autistic brain.
Other Key Parts To The Brain That Reside Outside Of The 4 Lobes Include:
Based on the above
information, we would now take a closer look, at what I believed was happening
in the autistic brain.
Explaining So Much In The Autistic Child Based On Brain Structure And Function Alone!
In looking at the above overview of the brain – its structures and its functions – parents of the autistic children were undoubtedly thinking to themselves that the damage to their child appeared to impact almost all areas of the brain - and indeed it did!
For parents, the next two sections, in particular, would be among the most difficult emotionally. There was no simple way for me to “break this gently” and, it was with a very, very heavy heart, indeed, that I shared what I believed to be happening in the autistic child.
In my opinion, everything that we saw in the autistic child could be explained based on one factor – the fact that the autistic child did not properly process, integrate and relay information within the brain as it related to the “parts to the whole”.
But, what exactly were “the parts” to the whole? If you truly thought about that, you would come to understand, as I did, that the parts to the whole included absolutely all sensory information that was incoming…via sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.
It was my belief, that within the autistic child, the failure to understand the “parts to the whole” (i.e., all sensory information) was due to the fact that the brain’s critical “integration” function as it related to all sensory information – was simply not there – almost completely gone!
In other words, it was “as if” each part of the brain was working on its own, almost completely independent of “other parts”. Sensory information could “come in”, but, it basically “went nowhere” in the sense that it was not relayed to all the critical “other parts” of the brain that needed that information in order to do “their role”. As such, in order to teach the child key concepts that were “not getting through” the way they should (such as one’s name), it was “as if” you were forcing that child to use a part of his brain never intended for a particular function in place of that part that should have captured and processed that information.
In my opinion, as the child came to decode more and more of his world, the small overlap in functionality among the lobes (i.e. visual capabilities existed in occipital, parietal and temporal lobes) helped the child to decode more in each area within one lobe, but, the fact remained that tremendous limitations were still there and that the various brain regions, in spite of decoding more aspects to life over time, still appeared to be very much working independently.
With time, as autistic children devised coping mechanisms to deal with their world, or they finally did “break the code” to so much involved in sensory processing, many children could indeed overcome the huge limitations I believed existed within them, but, as was so painfully true, there were many, many children who simply had not learned to “break the code” to sensory processing, because in order to break that code, I believed, a burden was placed on the autistic child to use his brain in a way in which I believed, it was not designed to be used, as the child was forced to use one part of his brain to decode something that should have been understood within another.
As a result of what was the root impairment in autistic children – the inability to integrate and relay sensory information – I believed that the only way for the child to begin to “recover” from this devastation was by painstakingly doing consciously a critical function that should have been performed subconsciously!
It was “as if”, as a result of this impairment, the child was being asked to use a boat to get from point A to point B – on a road! A motor may help him move along a little, but the distance traveled, could be very limited! Yet, if the code was broken, the child could indeed go further because, perhaps he could come to understand that even a canoe, with no motor, in a flooded ditch could indeed move one along a road and get one to where he needed to go – even if the journey was a little slower!
As with so much in life, the key was always in finding an alternative when the road seemed impassable, and, fortunately, many autistic children did find that alternative that helped them to finally escape the strong and overwhelming shackles of autism! Thus, I did believe “limited communication” may exist among the lobes, but, what was there, surely, had to be very, very limited!
The best way I could explain this, was again, via the use of specific examples, given the many things we saw in the autistic child!
For example, instead of teaching Zachary his name via auditory processing, I taught Zachary his name via the sense of touch!
As such, I believed the autistic child – indeed, any child - to an extent had what could be viewed as “backup systems” in the sense that if one was not working properly, another could be used to try to teach the importance of that information. This explained why some skills were more easily learned than others. For example, structures related to language existed in both the frontal and temporal lobes. Thus, if one was not getting the information it needed to properly develop language, then, another area could take over – somewhat, but that “takeover” would have to be based on the other functions available within that region. As such, in producing language, for example, a function of the frontal lobe, given that no visual processing occurred there, the only way to teach language to an autistic child would be via use of motor activity or olfactory processing! In understanding language (temporal lobe), you could make use of some auditory and olfactory processing, categorization and some visual perception.
But, this ability to “take over” for other areas, in many cases, was extremely limited. This was especially true in terms of information passing between the peripheral and central nervous systems… information, for example, related to issues of touch, etc.
I did believe that by using digestive enzymes, many issues were much better in Zachary (such as the perception of “hunger”, etc.). The natural opiate effect of casein and gluten impact more than simply the brain… I suspected it impacted the peripheral system as well. I say this simply because of the fact that since Zachary had been on enzymes to help break down casein and gluten (i.e., from hidden sources), he was much better in areas of touch, for example.
If the natural opiate effect of casein and gluten did indeed impact the peripheral nervous system in addition to the central nervous system, then I suspected that the elimination of this natural opiate effect via the use of enzymes and the adherence to a cfgf diet would help in issues as they related to the relaying of information between the peripheral and central nervous systems, if only through a greater “awareness” of sensory input. The sensory input in terms, of for example, “the need to go to the bathroom” may still not get to all the places it needed to in the brain, but “greater awareness”, at least should help in addressing these issues via behavior modification techniques or the “teaching” to the child of what needed to be done “when you had this sensation”.
Example1: The “deaf child” – and other issues with sound!
When the autistic child heard his name, that sensory information did indeed come in, in the sense that “the name” was heard. Based on the above summary of the brain, one could see that “hearing one’s name” involved the temporal lobe – that lobe involved in auditory processing. So, the temporal lobe “perceived” the name and “heard it” because the sensory information had made it from the ears to the temporal lobe. However, that was basically “where it ended”. If the information was not properly integrated and “passed on” to the frontal lobe (the lobe involved in consciousness, and memory) where the child’s concept of “self” and any past memory of “his name” resided, then, that child would not perceive this sound as meaning anything in terms of his awareness of “self”. Again, saying the name “Zachary”, to Zachary would have been no different than saying “chair” – or any other word!
When I thought back to my own son and how I had to teach him his name, again, this all made perfect sense. Zachary had been a “deaf child”. I taught him his name not by using auditory input, but rather visual and touch input. I literally took my hand, placed it on me and said: “mommy”… and then, took my hand and placed it on him and said: “Zachary”. This was how I had taught Zachary the concept of “his name”.
If you looked at the areas in the frontal lobe, you would see that in addition to “self-consciousness”, within the frontal lobe resided motor functions. As such, I believed that by using physical motor functions, Zachary was better able to “understand his name” and hence, capture his sense of “self”.
Hearing involved both the temporal lobe and the midbrain and if information was not flowing from one to the other because the “auditory relay” function was impaired (in the midbrain), then, of course, the child could not respond to sounds, especially given the fact that the production of sounds and motor functions were located in the frontal lobe!
With Zachary, I had also noticed that there was a difference in terms of his ability to retain information better if the “sound” came from him as opposed to me. As such, I believed sound “he generated”, somehow, was better understood, as evident from the fact that my “making him repeat sentences and answers” worked so well with him.
Voice recognition was located in the temporal lobe, along with auditory and olfactory processing, memory acquisition, emotion, understanding of language, categorization of objects, and some visual perception. Damage to this area resulted in selective attention in terms of sight and sound, difficulty understanding the spoken word, issues with sexual interest, short term memory loss and interference with long term memory, emotional issues (i.e., increased aggression), difficulty in face recognition, categorization issues, and persistent talking if damage was to the right of the temporal lobe.
Thus, it certainly seemed probably that this explained Zachary’s apparent issues with “self generated sound” verses sound generated from anyone or anything else. If this were true, then teaching the autistic would best be accomplished via making them repeat things out loud – in their own voice!
The fact that auditory relays were processed in the midbrain certainly made this “conclusion” even stronger. If sounds were not being properly relayed to the appropriate section of the brain, this, certainly explained a great deal in terms of the “deaf child”. The sounds could come in from the “outside”, but not be processed, integrated and relayed to the appropriate area needed to interpret that sound. This certainly explained why autistic children had no fear of danger. The sound of a car was not making it to the brain stem where reflexes to sight/sound were located. This also explained why “anyone else talking” – anything involving sound relays (in midbrain) usually resulted in a “deaf child” – especially if that voice was not recognized. Given auditory processing and voice recognition were both in the temporal lobe, only “recognized” voices would really make any sense to the child. As such it was critical the child be “taught” to identify/ recognize each person’s voice by actually having that voice labeled for the child (i.e., by going up to the child, gently speaking in his ear and saying for example, “This is John’s voice and I want you to remember John’s voice and recognize it”).
Example 2: Motor issues
Likewise, if sensory information was captured by the eyes, for example, a ball being thrown, again, unless that information was “passed on” to all areas of the brain that needed to process this information, it would basically “end there”. Visual information came in via the occipital lobe yet, motor functioning was primarily done in the frontal lobe. As such, if the visual information was not relayed to the frontal lobe, the child would be unable to “catch a ball” in that he would not know that certain motor functions needed to be done based on this visual input. Likewise, if visual information was not properly relayed from the occipital lobe or auditory information relayed from the midbrain, then, this also explained issues in the condition known as “attention deficit” because without having the appropriate information relayed, the appropriate motor response would be missing too!
In teaching Zachary how to “catch a ball”, I used the sense of touch, literally putting out his hands for him, to teach him how to catch a ball. Again, visual or auditory input had not worked until he was physically shown how to catch a ball.
Likewise, issues such as difficulty drinking from a straw or with going down stairs could also be explained based on the fact that “visual information” to the occipital lobe was not being sent to the appropriate parts of the brain involved in motor functioning (the cerebellum involved in motor coordination, the basal ganglia involved in learning new skills and the regulation of movement, the pons, involved in vestibular functioning (balance) and the frontal lobe, involved in motor planning and execution). It was also critical to note that memories associated with motor functions were located in the frontal lobe, also responsible for control of emotion, motor planning and execution, language production, concept of self, and the assignment of meaning to words. Understanding language, however, in terms of motor functions, was located not in the frontal lobe, but the temporal lobe, along with emotions and memory acquisition as it related to emotions, the categorization of objects, some visual perception, auditory and olfactory processing.
Example 3: No fear of danger
As in example 2, the same concept applied. A child could “see” a car, but if that information was not “passed on” to the appropriate part of the brain that needed to “respond to” that information in terms of safety, in terms of triggering the need to “watch out” or to physically move away from the direct path of that car, then, again, the incoming information, was basically useless. The child could “see” but he could not “act” based on what he saw! Fear was considered an “emotion” and as such should involve the temporal lobe. In addition, the processing of emotions involved the amygdale (outside of the lobes) and as such, if the visual input of “a car coming” was not passed on to the temporal lobe and the amygdale, the emotion of “fear” simply was not there!
The area of danger perception was one of great concern for me. In this area, I felt I had “no other way” to “teach danger” because it was not something Zachary could “see” in the lobe it needed to be in – that lobe that also processed emotions – and as such, abstract concepts that were critical to life, such as the perception of danger and emotions were much more difficult to “teach”.
I suspected that, given “emotions” were involved in the temporal lobe, that perhaps, teaching emotions such as fear needed to be done via the use of “hearing and smell” since these functions also existed in the temporal lobe. Yet, I feared even this may not be enough given the fact that the amygdale (part of the limbic system) was involved in the actual processing of emotions and the fact that the midbrain was involved in visuomotor functioning, reflexes, auditory relays and motor coordination.
I did notice something very interesting in Zachary. As I tried so many times to teach him to “stop, look and listen” before crossing a street, I came to understand that “if he actually saw a car”, he could process that somewhat, but, if a car “was not there”, then he had tremendous difficulty. For example, if a car was actually coming and I said: “do you see a car coming?”. He could provide the appropriate response of “yes”. “Do you see a car coming?” was a question I had always tried to make use of in trying to teach Zachary about the danger of cars. Recently, however, I once again noticed how his “reference living” was working as it related to this too. As we went for a walk and stopped at an intersection, I once again asked Zachary to look both ways. I literally had to position myself behind him and make him look both ways as I moved him head to make him do so. Zachary was relying only on my “auditory cue” of “do you see cars coming” and was not doing a visual scan himself… nor was he doing an “auditory scan” for cars. All he could hear was “my voice” (voice recognition) saying a familiar sentence - “do you see any cars coming?”. To the familiar question (“Do you see a car coming?”), he answered: “yes” – but there were no cars coming - at all! I could hear cars a few streets over, but, at least 10 times I asked him “Do you see a car coming?” as I literally moved his head to make him look both ways and he responded “yes” – each time - when there were no cars coming. Visual input was worthless! Zachary was depending totally on “my auditory cue”, and giving me a “canned response” by saying he could see a car coming when there was none. On other walks, when cars were coming, I knew he could see them, but he was not processing the danger associated with them. So, both seeing and not seeing cars was an issue… in all cases, Zachary simply “drew” from a past memory in trying to “come up” with the appropriate response… a walking Russian roulette game!
It was very clear to me that parents could easily think their child understood concepts of danger if “the appropriate” response just happened to be given. Yet, in working with Zachary and trying to make him understand this concept of how to determine if it was safe to cross a street, I now understood that he truly did not understand “danger” but rather, simply responded to “my question” based on past experience – a past answer given to that question. He was not “looking about” to determine the appropriate answer… he just assumed what had worked in the past would work in the future. In situations such as crossing the street, however, the answer usually changed with each situation. There was also the danger of “more cars”… if more than one was coming, how would Zachary respond to that? Would he assume it was ok to go after one had went by? We lived in a very, very quiet area, and this was something I really had not had the opportunity to observe much in trying to teach Zachary about crossing the street. The fact that we usually crossed after a car went by made me wonder if he would continue to do so in a busier street. I suspected he very well could cross - based on past references that “you can cross after a car goes by”. The danger of reference livingă! How was I ever going to get passed this issue for my son?
Teaching danger in the autistic child was truly a challenging area. Memory for “danger” had to be provided via “familiarity” and as such, that meant somehow exposing these children to concepts related to danger. Videos in my opinion, had to be the way to do this and given the structure and function of the brain, I felt those videos had to involve “categorization” of dangerous situations. Only then, did I believe the child could use that information to “produce an emotion of fear” when danger was “seen”. There was some visual perception in the temporal lobe, along with categorization, emotion and memory, and as such, these were the variables that had to be combined in order to teach these concepts. Auditory processing, although in the temporal lobe would not work in teaching danger, since auditory relays were in the brain stem. Visual processing was also not the best option given the above example with “Do you see a car coming?”. I simply had no good answer on this one and my son’s safety was a concern that weighed very heavily on my heart. At five, I knew Zachary had absolutely no concept of how to properly assess danger – in spite of my having worked so hard with him on the simple issue of “crossing the street”!
Example 4: Potty training
I believed the child perceived the “need to go to the bathroom” – the physical sensation. Yet, unless this information was relayed to the basal ganglia, involved in the regulation of movement and the learning of skills, then, once again, the child’s brain “did not know what to do with that information”. Likewise the information from the peripheral nervous system – the “urge to go” felt in the lower part of the torso was not being relayed to the thalamus that acted as a gateway for information between the peripheral and central nervous systems and on to the parietal lobe where somatosensory (information relating to the physical bodily and sensory functioning) information was processed. So, even though the child “felt” the need to go, he did not “understand” what to do once that information was received. This indeed, could very well explain why it was so difficult to potty train these children. The flow of information between the peripheral and central nervous systems was also definitely impacted. If you looked at those areas also present in the parietal lobe, they involved spatial processing and attention… so, the challenge was to teach potty training based on “spatial” or attention factors. That was a challenge indeed! Perhaps using “math concepts” in terms of counting “poops” on a wall chart would be the way to do it! The fact that “attention” factors were also in this lobe concerned me in that it could mean children were more concerned in terms of overall “attention” with issues related specifically to the body. This certainly explained why, for example, my autistic nephew was so totally obsessed with the fact that he was about to lose a tooth.
I suspected potty training and toe walking were related. Again, my theory that there was a breakdown in communication among the various parts of the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system, again, seemed to agree with that. Toe walking resulted in a greater sense of “touch” as the feet were more firmly pressed against the floor. I honestly believed this allowed the child to control his bowel movements in that he could “stop them at will” by toe walking – at least for some period of time. I also suspected that toe walking helped alleviate pain somewhat in that it altered how much pressure there was on specific parts of the back. If autistic children did feel any pain in going to the bathroom, perhaps toe walking helped to alleviate some of that pain.
Example 5 Issues with “touch”
As in example 4, the sense of “touch” involved both the peripheral and the central nervous system. As such, if a child “perceived” touch physically on his skin, yet did not “understand” that touch, I could truly understand how that could cause intense frustration for so many of these children. In my opinion, many of these children could not understand the “who” behind the touch, because there was no information to allow the child to understand that “by being touched” by someone else, for example, did not change one’s concept of “self”.
Yet, the act of “touching a child” made it so that he “perceived” something on his skin… and in my opinion, causes confusion in that child in the sense of “self”. This also explained the fact that so many of these children did not properly sense “pain”.
When Zachary was quite young, he burned his finger on a stove. He did not remove his finger for a long time. He did not “feel” the pain in the sense that it was not interpreted by his brain as “something that hurt”, but, I knew he felt discomfort from it because he kept touching the burned area on his finger.
Thus, the physical sensation of something happening had been there, but it had not been perceived as something that hurt and as such, Zachary showed no real motor reaction in the sense of quickly removing his finger from the stove…nor did he show any emotion. He did not cry, though, to me, the burn looked like it should have caused him some fairly serious discomfort. Again, I believe the sensory input simply had not made it to those parts of the brain that needed the information in order to have the appropriate responses from both a motor and emotional view. I also believed that the natural opiate effect of casein and gluten also impacted the peripheral nervous system, perhaps numbing the sense of touch, and as such, the use of cfgf diets and digestive enzymes aimed specifically at minimizing this natural opiate effect should help in terms of how well the child perceived information from the peripheral nervous system. I believed pretty well all issues with touch could be explained by this theory (i.e., brushing teeth, cutting hair, clothing issues, etc.).
Issues with touch also explained spinning and other activities more concretely. I believed there was more to spinning then simply a “visual stim”… and now, I was more convinced of that then ever. I also now understood that there was more to spinning than simply “making the parts whole” – although, for Zachary, I knew that certainly played a part. Spinning, however, could now, further be explained by issues with touch as they related to brain structure and function. Touch perception was located in the parietal lobe – as was object manipulation and visual attention. Thus, if “magnified communication” between functions existed in each region, it would stand to reason that the more someone touched an object, the more one would want to continue to touch that object. If my theory was correct, touching an object would trigger the desire to continue doing so. For Zachary, I truly believed this to be the case. If I let him spin, he would move from a slow spin to a very intense spin, completely focused on that activity. If I removed the object he was spinning, however, he usually made almost no fuss. Just “breaking touch” was enough to stop the activity and move his visual attention to something else – and I could always do so quite easily.
UPDATES ON "SPINNING" (scroll down below the pictures)
Example 6 Issues with specific food textures
Again, as with other issues related to the peripheral system, I believed the information from the “sensation” of certain foods was simply not being properly integrated into the central nervous system. Again, issues of touch were also at play here, in my opinion in that the child had difficulty making out “slimy foods” that almost “become part of him” as they sat on the tongue (unlike more crunchy foods that were much more discrete in how they were perceived). If the child did have difficulty in distinguishing between “what was food” and “what was tongue”, as in the case of “slimy foods”, then, I could certainly understand why a child would have difficulty eating “slimy foods”.
Example 7 Somatosensory issues … Not asking to eat when hungry
An area I had forgotten to mention on several occasions had to do with the fact that in any physical discomfort, be that the need to go to the bathroom, the sensation of a burn, or the need to eat, the information flow between the peripheral and central nervous system, again was simply not there. Zachary could go for hours without eating and would never complain. The information from his stomach in terms of the “need to eat”, information from the “peripheral system” again was simply not properly processed. Thirst was somewhat better processed – although Zachary could certainly go for hours without drinking too if I let him. He did learn to ask for a drink. He still only rarely asked for food.
Example 8 Issues with language
Language involved several key areas of the brain… the frontal lobe for language production, the temporal lobe, for understanding language and auditory sensory information and the occipital lobe for the processing of visual information as it related to language. Given my theory that the “integration” of sensory input and relaying of information to “other parts of the brain” was simply absent in the autistic child, again, as with so many issues, issues with language made sense too. Visual inputs came in through the eyes, but if that input failed to make it to the temporal lobes (to understand language) and to the frontal lobes, to produce language, then one could easily see that language, indeed would be a very difficult thing for many autistic children. Teaching language in an auditory manner may help given that the lobe for “understanding language” was also the lobe involved in auditory processing.
This may explain why Zachary loved to spell out loud and often asks me: “how do you spell…?”, as opposed to asking me to actually “write” a word (a visual input). He definitely seemed to prefer auditory spelling… although he now liked the challenge of visuals too! As such, in teaching the alphabet, what I believed to be the first building block to language, it was my opinion that auditory input should be provided more so than visual. I did believe visual was critical too, but perhaps the auditory input would be better in actually “triggering” the understanding of the alphabet given that understanding language and auditory functions both resided in the temporal lobe. Also, in considering language production, I now understood why it was so difficult for autistic children. If you looked at the functions within the frontal lobe, that lobe where language production was believed to occur, the only “sensory information” available in terms of “what was processed there” was sensory information as it related to the sense of smell. So, how could you teach language when other areas of strength in that lobe in terms of sensory information consisted only of “smell”… auditory and visual sensory processing was totally missing in this critical area of language production! Thus, there were really no “other” sensory inputs related to language acquisition to draw from in this particular lobe.
This also explained why some autistic children could apparently learn to read with no understanding whatsoever of the alphabet. In my opinion, these children had been unable to break the code to the alphabet – visually, but had apparently done so phonetically. They had come to decode the fact that “sounds” - put together - made words, but had yet to understand the basics behind those sounds – the alphabet. Given that auditory processing and understanding language both resided in the temporal lobe, yet visual processing resided in the occipital lobe, I now understand why this could indeed be the case – that a child could actually learn to read phonetically without understanding the alphabet. There did exist some visual perception in the temporal lobe (along with auditory processing) and as such, this could certainly explain why visual input could somewhat contribute to the understanding of language, although, I now felt that motion and auditory input (especially when coming from the child himself) were perhaps, for these children, more important. For these children, it was truly a blessing that at least “some” visual perception existed in the temporal lobe – where language was understood. When used in conjunction with the “categorization function” also in the temporal lobe, I now believed we could truly begin to provide valuable tools for these children!
This also explained why Zachary always seemed to know more than he let on. This had indeed been true in that he knew the entire alphabet and I did not even realize it. Given the fact that understanding language and producing language resided in different areas, of course, once again, this made sense. The fact that Zachary could not communicate all he knew in no way meant that he did not know much more than I had given him credit for!
Echolalia and ordering languageă or reference languageă now made sense too! Given voice recognition, memory, understanding of language, categorization and auditory processing were all in the temporal lobe, I now understood why Zachary understood language better if he himself repeated it or categorized it via the use of echolalia (parroting) or ordering languageă/reference languageă. For the autistic child, “language categorizationă was necessary in that to be understood all aspects of language - itself - also had to be “categorized”. Again, it now totally made sense based simply on brain structure and function. Zachary obviously recognized his voice better than anyone else’s, as such, he learned best upon hearing his own voice parroting words or categorizing words in order to commit that to memory.
This also explained why teaching phonics through the use of specific motions had worked so well with my autistic nephew, Andrew. This was a type of “motor phonicsă” or “phonics in motionă” in that specific motions were made with the body as one verbally gave the child specific sounds. My sister-in-law had often commented to me that even to this day, years after learning this technique, her son still made use of these “motor phonicsă” in his communication! Perhaps videos where children, together formed letters with their bodies would be a good way to teach the alphabet too as this would involve a great deal of motion.
Although the production of language had to be via olfactory or motor functioning, the understanding of language would best be accomplished via categorization of information (i.e., bubble graphs). Although auditory processing did reside in the temporal lobe, auditory relays resided in the midbrain, and as such, auditory methods were not the best way to go!
Again, based on the fact that motor functioning also resides in the front lobe, the lobe associated with the production of language, this made complete sense!
Example 9 Issues with socialization
In terms of socialization, again, this too, was truly explained by my theory. Socialization involved input from all senses and involved the use of all frontal lobes for the processing of that information. The frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, the occipital lobe, and many other structures as well… the amygdale, the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, the midbrain, the pons, and the thalamus. Given that sensory input came in from the five senses and needed to go to all these areas in order for “socialization” to occur, it was no wonder that this was perhaps the most difficult area of all for these children.
Example 10 Issues with process completion
The completion of a task, by definition, involved some kind of a process. A process was basically anything that involved a sequence of events (i.e, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.). As such, several things were usually involved: visual input, spatial processing, attention, auditory input (i.e., in the form of verbal instructions), motor functioning, coordination, etc. As such, again, several key areas of the brain were involved in task completion and if those areas were not receiving the information they needed, in terms of how “their part” helped to complete the “whole”, then, obviously, there would be difficulty in accomplishing that process. The fact that goal directed movement resided in the parietal lobe whereas motor activity, motor planning and execution resided in the frontal lobe, obviously, made process completion even more difficult. In process completion, “drawing from memory” was also difficult for the autistic child given the memory associated with motor activity was in the frontal lobe also.
Although meaning assigned to words resided in the frontal lobe, the fact that this lobe had no visual or auditory processing, naturally, explained why, based on brain structure and function alone, even seeing or hearing instructions for completing a task would not, for many children, be enough to have that task accomplished in more severe cases of autism where communication among lobes was perhaps completely missing!
Example 11 Issues with eye contact
Issues with eye contact were also explained by this theory that the necessary integration of parts (sensory inputs) into the whole, in terms of getting that information to all necessary parts of the brain that needed that input for it to be properly understood and reacted to – was simply not there!
This explained why autistic children had blank stares or appeared to be looking through you. Blank stares were usually an indication that something was not understood. Again, this made perfect sense given that the visual information from the eyes coming in via the occipital lobe was simply not making it to all the parts of the brain that needed to decode that information for it to make sense. Visual processing was fairly limited – to the occipital lobe and as such, if that information, so critical to so many other functions was somehow prevented from being “passed on”, it was understandable that “blank stares” and “looking through you” would be characteristic of the autistic child. This also explained problems with issues relating to safety, attention deficit, visual attention (i.e., spinning), etc.
Example 12 Issues with pretend/imaginary play
Again, issues with imaginary or pretend play, in my opinion were also explained by this theory. Higher functioning (as I believe would be the case for “imaginary play) occurred in the frontal lobe – exactly where one also had functions related to “consciousness”, or the “concept of self”. If my theory was correct, as I sadly believe it was, then, the issue of pretend play and one’s concept of self was indeed a very serious issue as I explained in my sections on The Potential Danger Of Imaginary Play as it related to “imaginary friends” and schizophrenia. Add to that the fact that “language production” and motor activity as well as memory associated with motor activity were also in this same lobe and the potential for “talking to oneself” or to “imaginary friends” and constantly engaging in activities with imaginary friends was certainly there! Damage to the frontal lobe also resulted in “persistence in thoughts”.
If my theory was correct and each region of the brain had “magnified” communication within it, as stated earlier, that could either be good or bad. In issues of pretend play and the losing of one’s concept of self, this could not be more true. Although “magnified communication” may be seen as a “good thing” by many scientists, in the case of the frontal lobe and the fact that the concept of self resided there, I believed the potential for “losing one’s concept of self” was also magnified. Magnified communication within the frontal lobe would result in more harm than good as this “abnormal” communication could lead to persistence in thought (obsessive compulsive behavior), inability to focus, changes in social behavior, variability in mood/ emotions, and the loss of the concept of self . All of these things were associated with damage to the frontal lobe! As such, it was my very firm belief/opinion, that pretend play should not be encouraged in the autistic – especially if that pretend play involved the child/adult “being someone else”. In my opinion, autistic children should ONLY be referred to by their name and if pretend play did surface, it had to be labeled very quickly for what it was – “not real” – in order to keep the child/adult grounded in reality! Based on this issue alone, I felt it was critical all therapists and/or teachers of the autistic, whether PhDs or high school students, be trained in these matters as they related to the autistic child and the concept of self. There were simply too many therapists out there currently encouraging “pretend play” in the autistic and in my opinion, that had to stop immediately because I truly felt these therapists could unknowingly do irreparable damage to these children!
To any therapist who would come out “defending credentials” and saying that my theory was just “a theory”, I wanted to say that this “theory” made a great deal of sense when examined in terms of brain structure and function alone. Ego and pride aside, you could “defend your credentials”, but in my opinion, if your credentials were more important than a child’s potential wellbeing, you could “defend your credentials” by testing them with your own child – not the child of another! I had now raised this “red flag” and I certainly hoped that therapists and parents would see it for what it was – a huge “red flag”!
Those in psychology had long suspected that schizophrenia was “adult autism” – perhaps now, we could understand why that was!
I encouraged all parents of the autistic to make absolutely sure they or anyone else did not do anything to destroy, in any way, their child’s concept of self, because in my view, this was a very real possibility when it came to issues of “pretend play”. The easiest way to solidify one’s concept of self, in my view, was obviously to always refer to a child by his given name – and nothing else!
With Zachary, once I became aware of the possibility that he could actually lose his concept of self via imaginary play, I determined not only to refer to him only as Zachary (and make sure that was what everyone else called him too), but I also encouraged his concept of self by always reminding him of who he was (mommy’s boy) and saying that “Zachary was the best boy” often in order to make him want to “remain” Zachary – to help him be “happy” with being “who he was”!
I also made it a point to show him pictures of himself and identify him in pictures. Doing this allowed him to have not only a greater understanding of “himself” but also of “himself in terms of being part of a family unit”. I used as many new pictures as I could since I knew that “once labeled” in one picture, Zachary would commit that to memory and simply “draw from memory” when asked “Who is that in the picture?” in the future.
Using the mirror was another good way to help reinforce the concept of self. Although Zachary still had a little trouble with mirrors, he was much better with them then he had been in the past.
Example 13 Issues with body temperature regulation
Many autistic children, although too hot, or too cold, would say nothing even though they were experiencing sensory discomfort as clearly evidenced by extreme sweating, for example. Thus, again, sensory input in the peripheral system was not making it to the central nervous system in order to trigger the necessary motor response in many of these children.
Example 14 Issues with emotions
As with so much, issues with the processing of emotions could also be explained by this theory. For example, a child may be able to visually “see” a person crying (visual sensory input), but, unless that input went to that part of the brain that dealt specifically with the processing of emotions, the amygdale, then to an autistic child that information meant nothing! There were plenty of times when I cried deeply as a result of autism and Zachary never really particularly seemed distressed over that. Yet, if I said: “I’m a sad mom”, he often came running with a kiss! Sensory input as it related to sight was primarily in the occipital lobe. Auditory processing, understanding language, voice recognition and memory as it relates to emotion were in the temporal lobe… so, my saying: “I’m a sad mom”, obviously would have a greater impact on an autistic child than would seeing me cry.
As with everything else, with emotions, all sensory input was but a part to the whole. Thus, things were either “this way or that”… the part was either there or it was not… the sensory input was either there, or it was not – everything was an “all or nothing” in terms of the “stimuli” perceived via all the senses… and as such, this explained why even in emotions, too often, everything was an all or none too! Aggression was either there, full blast, or it was not present at all. Anger was either there as complete anger, or it was not. Sadness was either there as complete sadness, or it was not. Joy was either there as complete joy, or it was not. Frustration was either there as complete frustration… or it was not!
Another critical emotion, that of fear was also not properly processed and as such did not make it to the brain stem, so critical in life functions (i.e., fight or flight instinct necessary to survival).
Since one’s emotions came simply in “one piece”, an all or nothing, there could be no “in between” emotions, given that, emotions within the temporal lobe did not make it to the amygdale for the proper processing of emotions… where I suspected “degrees” of emotions may be perceived. Perhaps most critical of all, however, in terms of the issue of emotions, was the fact that the control of emotions resided not in the temporal lobe where the formation of emotions and the memory relating to emotions were actually formed, but rather, control of emotions, resided in the frontal lobe, along with motor activity, planning and execution, memory as it related to motor activities, and the assignment of meaning to words. Auditory relays, existed in the midbrain and goal directed movement resided in the parietal lobe.
It was because of this, that I now, honestly believed, a person could literally do something and not only have no control over it, but perhaps have no memory of it either! In my view, this was the most serious of all issues for parents of the autistic and society overall!
A lot of other things now made sense too… like the old saying: “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Given that the control of emotion was in the frontal lobe, the lobe also associated with the sense of smell, this, too, now made sense. I now believed that the sense of smell was indeed very misunderstood in that it could have much more to do with all of man’s emotions than previously believed. The frontal lobe had no other real “sense” within it. There appeared to be nothing in terms of sight or auditory processing and nothing in terms of touch in the frontal lobe. The temporal lobe did have olfactory and auditory processing within it, along with emotion and memory associated with a specific emotion and some visual perception. Yet, the actual CONTROL of emotion, clearly resided in the frontal lobe – where only the sense of smell resided also! I now understood why so many women ate when depressed and found comfort in food and why smokers found cigarettes so “relaxing”. This all certainly had major implications for so many areas of study. It now all made perfect sense!
In my opinion, surely, the sense of smell, could be used to help control emotions in the autistic too! I was convinced that the sense of smell would be key in keeping emotions under control in the autistic. Given that olfactory and auditory processing resided in the temporal lobe, these could also be used to help with emotions and the memories associated with emotions too – although, in this lobe, I truly felt that auditory processing worked better when the “sound” came from the individual himself! The autistic child could teach the world so much in so many areas – of that, I was absolutely convinced!
Example 15 Issues with motion
The perception of motion involved at least the occipital lobe (visual input), the parietal lobe (spatial processing), and the midbrain, and several other areas as well if the object in motion was part of oneself. Thus, again, several areas were necessary to perceive motion, yet, if the “visual input” was not relayed to all necessary parts of the brain, then motion was not properly perceived, explaining why autistic children had no fear of moving objects. To an autistic child, looking at an ant was probably no different than looking at an oncoming car in terms of the emotions this would elicit. Neither would result in fear – in my opinion.
Also, in terms of motion, there was a huge difference also in how motion from “outside” was perceived verses motion the child himself perceived based on the various brain structures and their functions. This again, gets to the “Do you see a car coming?” example provided above. Zachary’s internal functioning, I found, would override any visual input. He preferred to rely on “reference livingă” than on incoming sensory input! A dangerous situation indeed!
Example 16 Issues with the sense of smell
My theory also explained something I had seen in Zachary, when he was very, very young and had not yet been diagnosed with autism. It was the fact that Zachary loved to be “sniffed”. I had made mention of this when I discussed issues of “smell” in Zachary in my first book, Saving Zachary: The Death And Rebirth Of A Family Coping With Autism, in Chapter 6, a chapter I had called: Signs So Easily Missed Or Dismissed. In this Chapter, I had identified, looking back, over 50 signs of autism manifesting itself in my son. Signs that were so clearly there, and that had so often been so totally missed! What followed was the comment I had made in that first book as it related to the sense of smell:
"What I did notice from quite early on was that he liked to be "sniffed" around the ears, in his hair, on his tummy, and especially, around the neck. Actually, “sniffing” him often served to calm him down. If he got upset, often all I had to do was to start sniffing him around the neck and he would calm right down. This actually also helped him to fall asleep. I never thought much of anything other than the fact that it was kind of “cute”. In fact, he “sniffed” my neck and ears first and that was how I came to recognize and use this behavior to calm him down.”
I know understood this behavior. It had been Zachary’s first attempts at actually communicating with me. Since the sense of smell was the only sensory input available to the frontal lobe, that lobe responsible for language production, Zachary’s sniffing had been his attempt at communicating with me.
This also explained why later in life, he came to absolutely love the children’s show Bear In The Big Blue House, because – almost always – at the beginning of that show, the “bear” sniffed around and said: “hey… what’s that smell? … it’s you!” as he moved so close to the camera that the “bear’s nose” covered the entire television screen. Thus, clearly, Zachary was relating to the use of smell for communication purposes! Zachary’s “sniffing” (and mine) were almost identical to that of this “bear”… a few quick sniffs (anywhere from 3 to 5), done all at once.
I now believed the sense of smell was greatly underutilized in humans. Interestingly, the sense of smell was the only “sense” not processed in the thalamus – the gateway for relaying central and peripheral nervous system information.
Example 17 Issues with memory
The area of memory was truly a complex one, however, a brief overview of this area would help all parents understand these issues, also, in terms of how they related to the autistic child and my theory that the integration and relaying of sensory input was simply absent in the autistic child!
There were two types of memory: 1) short term (lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few days, and 2) long term memory.
Of these, only long-term memory was embedded into the brain cells.
Memory was very much dependent on one’s attention. Data considered interesting or relevant was obviously considered more relevant in terms of being committed to long-term memory. Those things considered “dry” or irrelevant data were generally only committed to short-term memory.
In addition, memory could be either conscious or subconscious! Conscious memory involved the active recollection/retrieval of specific facts and as such, involved the function of “searching” the brain. This type of conscious memory was referred to as “explicit memory”. Unconscious memory, however, was more of an “automatic” memory and dependent on specific cues and as such, “familiarity” was critical here. Explicit memory was believed to lead to “aware” memory whereas implicit memory was believed to lead to “unaware” memory.
Furthermore, memory could be defined as “direct” or “indirect”. Direct memory involved yes/no, forced-choice recognition, cued or free-recall. Indirect memory involved judgments, object decisions, categorization and word/picture associations.
The best way to trigger the recall of a memory was by association – especially when that association involved emotions! Memories were greatly enhanced by emotions associated with them. Emotions impacted priorities, attention and the creation of meaning.
In addition to being defined in terms of short or long term memory, memory could be further defined as one of the following:
Working memory – consisted of “how much” information one could hold at one time. Of course, the content of working memory was greatly influenced by emotions.
Procedural memory - consisted of motor memory as involved in “body learning” (i.e., why hand-over-hand was such a good technique for the autistic).
Reflexive memory – consisted of automatic or “instant” associations and, of course, were also heavily impacted by emotions (i.e., fear, pain, etc.).
Episodic memory - consisted of memories based on specific events, experiences, etc. These were enhanced by the senses as well as by movement. Recall here was triggered by emotions and specific cues (i.e., locations, “reference livingă”, etc.)
The subject of memory formation was a complex one and, as such, I provided a link on this subject for those who wanted to further study this subject, although the above information was certainly enough to explain the issues we so often saw in the autistic as they related to my theory that sensory integration and relay failure was at the root of almost all issues we saw in the autistic: http://cognet.mit.edu/MITECS/Entry/baddeley.
The first critical thing to note was that memories could be either “conscious” or “subconscious”. If you looked at what we saw in the autistic child, there was no doubt that conscious memory was working, as evidenced by the amazing ability to recall facts, etc. However, there was also no doubt that the subconscious memory was not working properly, as evidenced by the fact, for example, that these children apparently had no fear of danger, no “fight or flight” instinct so critical to safety and survival. Based on my theory and the fact that there existed within the autistic child complete sensory integration failure, in looking at the brain structure and function overview, one could see that sensory integration functions clearly resided in the parietal lobe. Functions relating to emotions, those things so critical in the creation of memories, however, resided in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, the amygdale and the brain stem. The function of emotion was completely absent in the parietal lobe.
Thus, if my theory that sensory integration and relay was absent in the autistic child was correct, sensory information from the senses, as it related to say, danger, would not be perceived since the information was simply not making it to those parts of the brain that needed to use this information in order to result in the appropriate response – the fight or flight instinct. This, indeed, clearly explained why memories as they related to danger, for example, were basically non-existent, but that, with time and exposure to such information, the autistic child, because of “familiarity” issues could come to recognize dangerous situation.
If one looked at all the senses, and where their specific functions resided within the brain, more could be explained, yet. For example, the sense of sight, so critical to emotion, be it joy or sadness, resided within the occipital lobe, with only minimal visual perception in the temporal lobe. As such, emotion from “seeing” anything was very much non-existent. In those areas where emotion and sight functions were both present, such as in the temporal lobe, one could clearly see how those things that would cause – for example – joy, in the autistic child, as we saw it today, were clearly present. For example, auditory functioning and emotion were both in the temporal lobe, and, as such, autistic children could indeed, enjoy a song. Categorization was also present in the temporal lobe, and as such, activities involved in categorization could also result in joy, or, say, frustration, for the autistic child. Some visual perception also existed in the temporal lobe. Not surprisingly, as such, activities like spinning created an intense “joy” or frustration, too, in the autistic child. Finally, although the controls for emotional response existed in the frontal lobe, sensory input, in this lobe, was very much absent – the only sensory input really being that relating to the sense of smell and motion. And, indeed, given the presence of olfactory and motor functions in the frontal lobe, the autistic child was very sensitive to smell and to motion (i.e., spinning) and definitely exhibited emotion in response to both of these stimuli!
Although I did not have much to share in terms of memory as it related to emotions, there was one incident I did have to share that made a very poignant examples of how these children, in my view, had been so devastated, in absolutely everything.
I had literally completed this book and was working on including my Appendix materials when this occurred. One of the things I had wanted to include in the Appendix for all parents to see, were two of several pictures I had taken of Zachary as he went through what I believed was an allergic reaction to something in cod liver oil (I suspected heavy metals, such as mercury). I will have the contents of that bottle tested and make the results available for all on my website, http://www.autismhelpforyou.com along with the many pictures and account of this particular event already found there.
As I cut and pasted this picture in the Appendix section to these materials, Zachary was sitting next to me and working on his computer – located just next to mine. He had a confused look when he saw the picture “pop up” on my screen. I said to him: “who’s that?”. I knew he had issues with recognizing himself in pictures, especially, older pictures (long term memory issue – he was much better now at recognizing himself in more recent pictures). When I asked Zachary to tell me who was in the picture in front of him, he responded: “a baby”. He had not “recognized himself” because this picture did not look like the “everyday Zachary” and as such, he apparently did not associate it with himself (issue with concept of self – note concept of self is in the frontal lobe, whereas memory and emotions were in the temporal lobe). I told him: “No, that’s Zachary – when you were sick”. Immediately upon my telling him that, Zachary went completely ballistic, screaming and showing an intense sense of pain… he also put his finger into his inner right ear – almost in an attempt to block what he was hearing! I did not recognize this for what it was – for about 20 seconds… and then, given I had been so consumed with this project, the thought of “memory” popped immediately into my mind.
I knew memories were associated very strongly with emotions… and in this case, Zachary’s recall of a very unpleasant memory had been a very traumatic experience – in and of itself!
My husband had been standing next to us when this happened. I think, he too, was in utter disbelief! I immediately pulled out my “brain chart” as it related to functions within the temporal lobe, since I had only recently come to understand all this, I wanted to make absolutely sure, as I attempted to comfort Zachary based on my new understanding of brain functioning in the autistic child, that I would definitely trigger a way I thought would calm him down. As my eyes scanned the page quickly, I noticed “auditory and olfactory” processing right away – an ice cream cone (rice ice cream and cone both cfgf) had to be the answer I needed. I had tried to comfort Zachary right away verbally when this reaction first happened, but that did not work (I suspect due to fact that “auditory relays” were in the midbrain).
Sure enough, as soon as I said: “Zachary, do you want an ice cream cone?”, he calmed down right away… from intensely emotionally distressed to almost normal. I hurried to make the ice cream cone for him and as I gave it to him, I asked him to “smell it” as I showed him “mommy smelling it”. He smelled it, and went to sit on the couch to eat it. He was perfectly fine after that. Given my chart, I suspect using categorization techniques would also have worked to calm him down (i.e., puzzles, etc.).
I knew that giving any child “ice cream” was a great reward, yet, again, this had really been a matter of “degrees” of emotion. To have been able to take a child from completely “ballistic” emotionally one moment to almost completely back to normal within 30 seconds, was in this case, attributable to more than just the fact that “all kids like ice cream”.
I encouraged all parents to make a copy of the charts within this document as it related to brain regions and functions and to post several copies throughout their homes.
I was absolutely amazed.
Both short term and long term memory (temporal lobe) had played a role in terms of his inability to recognize himself short term (given the picture did not look like he did, normally), but once he identified himself as a result of my auditory response to “a baby”, (concept of self was not in temporal lobe, where emotion and memory resided, but rather in the frontal lobe), long term memory kicked in and the emotion (emotion resided in temporal lobe) associated with that memory was extremely magnified, making the “recall” (memory in temporal lobe) of a painful memory, almost worse than the actual event! :o(
Once his attention was moved to something else (the ice cream), he was able to cope and was fine afterwards. The memory of that painful experienced had once again slipped into his subconscious (at least, I hoped, that was where it had gone! Only time would tell).
Obviously, this too, had serious implications for all parents of the autistic and their children!
Of all issues related to memory, however, as stated earlier, the most critical were those in terms of memory as it related to emotions (temporal lobe), the control of emotions (frontal lobe), motor activity, planning and execution (frontal lobe), and the assignment of meaning to words (frontal lobe), and the fact that auditory relays resided in the midbrain, while visual processing resided in the occipital lobe and somatosensory processing and the sense of touch resided in the parietal lobe, along with goal directed movement!
Zachary’s world was indeed, A World Of Orderă, A World Of Form And Functionă, and once you understood the structure and function of the brain it became much easier to deal with these children!
Example 18 Attention Deficit
“Attention deficit” now plagued children worldwide. You simply never used to see this before! And, there was “so much of it”, that the answer was not simply in “better diagnosis”. To those who would vainly try to make that claim, I had but one comment: Wake Up! – And Stop Giving Parents Bogus Excuses!!! We now had over 2 MILLION children on Ritalin across America… and Ritalin was not the answer to their woes – therapy and teaching tools using “alternative sensory information” based on brain structure and function were!
Attention deficit was also a disorder on the autism spectrum…what many considered “mild autism”, as I truly believed it was! This disorder, too, was explained by my theory as it related the brain’s processing of sensory information and the fact that within the autistic child, the integration of sensory information and the relaying of that information was basically nonexistent!
If you looked at “attention deficit” in terms of the brain’s structure and function, once again, all of this made perfect sense. Visual processing was accomplished in the occipital lobe. So, when these children “saw” something, unless that information was properly integrated and relayed to other parts of the brain that needed it… those parts of the brain involved with “attention”, there would definitely be impairments, in this area as well. Visual attention was not in the occipital lobe, but rather in the parietal lobe, with auditory processing and the understanding of language found in the temporal lobe and motor functioning and language production found in the frontal lobe. Auditory relays, however, were located in the midbrain! As such, all four lobes of the brain were involved here in addition to the midbrain – and these were not communicating properly, resulting in “attention deficits”, blank stares, no appropriate motor response to sound, and a host of odd behaviors or coping mechanisms (i.e., moving of objects quickly in front of one’s eyes, staring at objects, etc., not providing the appropriate motor response, apparently “not hearing” instructions, etc.).
Given I now also understood Zachary to “live by reference©”, past memories took on a whole new importance! It now seemed to all make such perfect sense!
Example 19 Issues with sexuality
Many autistic children developed inappropriate sexual behavior as they grew older. Although all humans became aware of their own sexuality via the sense of touch, in autistic children, as with everything else in their life – the issue was really one of “degree”. These children often touched themselves more then normal children did, and touched others inappropriately as well.
Again, based on my theory that there existed basically no communication among the various parts of the brain in the autistic child, this too, also now made sense. Sexual interest was located in the temporal lobe. This lobe was also responsible for emotions, memory acquisition, auditory and olfactory processing, the understanding of language, the categorization of objects and some visual perception. Yet, issues relating to somatosensory processing, the sense of touch and overall sensory integration were in the parietal lobe. Auditory relays were in the midbrain. Motor activity, motor planning and execution, memory as it related to habits and motor activities, the meaning assigned to words, and the control of emotional response were all in the frontal cortex.
These structures and functions, when viewed from a sexual perspective made for a very, very dangerous situation in the autistic child – especially, in the autistic male – especially given the fact, that in autism – everything was a “matter of degrees” and appeared to be, greatly magnified! Given the structures and functions of the brain these children could violate social norms in terms of sexuality or worse, commit crimes, and perhaps not even realize what they had done! Interestingly, the ability to distinguish between the truth and a lie was also believed to reside in the temporal lobe.
Obviously, no parent wanted to hear that the potential for such behavior was within their child, but denying these issues would do nothing to resolve them – denial, if I were right, would only make matters worse as more precious time was lost!
This was not simply a possible issue for the autistic, it was an issue for anyone having difficulty in the control of emotion or the concept of self, anyone with issues relating to memory, etc. As such, persons suffering from bi-polar, depression, personality disorders, self-image (i.e., self-injurious behaviors such as “cutting”, suicidal tendencies, anorexia/eating disorders, etc.), and perhaps many other disorders were also very much “at risk” when it came to this issue. Criminal behavior, from shoplifting to the most heinous of crimes, could also, perhaps now be explained by a lack of proper activity within the brain as it related to emotions and memory associated with those emotions (temporal lobe) and motor activity and memory associated with motor activity (frontal lobe).
Example 20: The Autistic Savant
In general, this theory also explained why we often saw autistic who were “savants” in so specific areas – music, memory (i.e., ability to recall amazing amount of factual information), mathematical genius, etc. – because given the fact that there was limited communication between the actual areas of the brain in terms of its various sections, within one section, I believed there was intense specialization occurring as it related to each functioning within a particular lobe, for example!
Thus, in an attempt to compensate for lack of overall integration, integration within a specific area could be tremendous! As such, herein was also the key.
Example 21: Immune System And Diet Issues
Although my knowledge of immune system issues was very, very limited, based on what I had come to understand of the autistic brain a great many issues relating to immune system disorder and as such, many dietary issues, could perhaps also be explained somewhat by this theory. The immune system was primarily located within the digestive track and given that digestive processes were controlled via the brain stem, if those “control” mechanisms were not working properly in terms of receiving necessary inputs from the central and peripheral nervous systems, then, obviously, that digestive process, and hence, the immune system, would also be impaired.
I understood all too well that the immune system involved a great deal on many fronts, however, surely, a part of the dysfunctional immune systems of the autistic could also be explained by this theory of a lack of communication between the various parts of the peripheral and central nervous system. With the immune system, the consequences of such a lack of communication would be devastating as the brain would not be able to send a message to “attack” various “intruders” (such as viruses) and as such, with no “attack call”, there would be no “response” either! Thus, vaccinating children with autism, indeed, could simply result in them “having the virus” but no way to “respond to” the virus and as such these children could literally be “made ill” and simply “given a disease” rather than be protected by a vaccination. For health officials, parents and society, overall, again, this was a huge issue in terms of potential “outbreaks”. In an effort to “protect society”, vaccinations could now, if my theory were correct, create deadly disease outbreaks. It had already been scientifically shown that many autistic children were not developing appropriate antibodies when given specific vaccinations. Perhaps now, we could understand why that was!
The immune system was primarily found in the digestive track. If the brain stem was unable to properly communicate with the digestive track, obviously, there would be serious immune system as well as digestive system issues… and this, indeed, was true for autistic children.
If I was correct on this issue, then Zachary not only had major immune system issues to overcome (if that were even possible), he would also need enzymes for the rest of his life to help break down casein and gluten proteins in his body and prevent their natural opiate effect unless there was some way to “reconnect” his brain. Since phenols were also an issue for these children, he also took special enzymes for phenols too (phenols were found in all fruits and vegetables). These enzymes currently cost me approximately $100.00 per month and now, with the pharmaceuticals wanting to make all vitamins and supplements by prescription only (already underway in EU – surely, US would be next), the cost of these enzymes would, surely increase. In my opinion, there was no reason to make these prescription items – they had never necessitated a prescription in the past! More evidence of the strong pharmaceutical arm in Washington! If these were to be by prescription only given the devastation of autism on these children and their families, immediate audits were necessary into vaccination issues via subpoenas and if there was a possibility of an autism-vaccination link, then pharmaceuticals should be forced to provide all supplements and vitamins from the company of our choice, to the autistic - free of charge!
The evidence for an autism-vaccine connection was growing indeed. In 1997, there was a study on the effects of mercury on brain neurons. Brain lesions were said to be similar to those found in 80% of human Alzheimer-diseased brains. In their research, Dr. Fritz Lorscheider and Dr. Naweed Syed of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary as well as medical student Christopher Leong showed that mercury causes brain neuron degeneration.
Those interested in reading more on this subject could do so by going to: http://www.ucalgary.ca/~gauntlet/eg/news/stories/20010329/news05.html.
Neural degeneration was clearly shown in the time lapsed 1999 video provided by these scientists, showing how mercury impacted neurons within the brain. Researchers and parents wanting more information on this subject or a copy of this video may contact: Dr. Fritz Lorscheider, (403) 220-6892, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Dr. Naweed Syed, (403) 220-5479, email email@example.com . More information was also available by going to http://www.fp.ucalgary.ca/unicomm/Gazette/April4-01/mercury.htm. These results were published in the British journal NeuroReport (Leong CCW, Naweed IS, Lorscheiderae FL, Retrograde degeneration of neurite membrane structural integrity of nerve growth cones following in vitro exposure to mercury, NeuroReport, accepted for publication Dec. 21, 2000, 12(4): 0733-0737). Although researchers speak of dental fillings as a source of mercury, it is interesting to note that the amount of mercury used in the experiment was shown in the video to be significantly less than that given to children via their vaccinations. I encouraged all parents of the autistic to obtain a copy of this video or view it online and to take the time to read the materials I referenced on this subject. Truly an eye opener!
ONLINE VIDEO OF UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY FACULTY OF MEDICINE RESEARCH
SHOWING NEURAL DEGENERATION DUE TO MERCURY EXPOSURE
Note, you need Quick Time to view this online. This link allows download. http://movies.commons.ucalgary.ca/mercury/.
The video showing neural degeneration as a result of mercury could be viewed online by going to the following site:
http://movies.commons.ucalgary.ca/showcase/curtains.php?src=/mercury/Lor2_QTS_300kb_QD.mov&screenwidth=320&screenheight=256 or you could go to http://www.iaomt.org.
Interestingly, evidence presented in congressional hearing seemed to indicate that there were virtually no long-term studies related to vaccines and/or immunizations. Could this be why the CDC was refusing to allow documents relating to vaccination research to be made public – because, perhaps, they simply did not exist?
Although thimerosal (mercury) had been used as a preservative in vaccines since the 1930s, it was only in 1999 that the FDA was forced by a Congressional mandate to disclose how much mercury there really was in vaccines. Upon mercury content information being disclosed, needless to say, many parents, professionals and government personnel alike became, justifiably, gravely concerned over the fact that for years infants had been routinely given 25 to 50 times more mercury than considered safe by the US Environment Protection Agency standards. Government officials, scientists and parents were now realizing that by age two, children, via vaccinations, could have been exposed to up to 100 times what had been considered safe levels of mercury by the EPA.
Up to 12 of the 18 childhood vaccinations contained thimerosal. Although the government to this day denied any link between vaccinations and autism, perhaps this helped explain why by 2001 all vaccines were now to be free of thimerosal.
It appeared the government and the pharmaceuticals, in their zeal to promote vaccinations and eradicate diseases had themselves, perhaps, been asleep at the switch – for decades!
The pieces of the puzzle were now truly falling into place! Mercury had scientifically been shown to cause neural degeneration. This, in turn, fit hand in hand with my theory that the autistic brain was basically devoid of communication among its various parts… all parts of the brain acting almost independently from one another!
The allusive “missing link” had been missing and allusive for so long because in looking for a “missing link” we failed to see - or admit publically - that the answer lay in the fact that there was - “no link” – in anything! And now, this missing link – if indeed the true missing link - connected with absolutely all aspects of society - worldwide! Everything we saw in the autistic child could now be integrated by my theory that the autistic child had a breakdown of all sensory input integration, processing and relaying of information between the central nervous system and peripheral nervous systems!