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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Different not less

Neurodiversity is an idea which asserts that atypical (neurodivergent) neurological development is a normal human difference that is to be recognized and respected as any other human variation.[1] Differences may arise in ways of processing information, including language, sound, images, light, texture, taste, or movement. The concept of neurodiversity is embraced by some autistic individuals and people with related conditions. Some groups apply the concept of neurodiversity to conditions potentially unrelated (or non-concomitant) to autism such as bipolar disorder, ADHD,[2] schizophrenia,[3] circadian rhythm disorders, developmental speech disorders, Parkinson's disease, dyslexia, and dyspraxia 

So keeping the above definition in mind.. I have always had an interest in Aspergers and Autism...Many of you might never have learned who Temple Grandin was if not for the HBO movie... but I was given the author's book Emergence by my grandmother when I was 23 years old. Late in my late 20's my friend purchased me her book Thinking in pictures.
  For those of you who do not know who Temple is~ she was diagnosed with Autism at 4 years old- but she went on to get her PH.D in animal science. She now works as a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University. She has also designed one third of all the live stock- handling facilities in the United States.
  The understanding of autism has changed a great deal and it's believed now that Temple may have been misdiagnosed then, and has Asperger's syndrome.
 Her HBO movie... was eye opening.. and I felt for the mother... who worked so hard.. to teach Temple social graces.. I know another mother.. who has worked feverishly for her son who is in Graduate school now.. and she runs situations and mock scenario's for him on a daily basis.. as simple as holding a tray with food on it.. to speaking with others about things other than what he is interested in. It seems like such a draining job.. for a mother.. but I know rewarding.
 I spent a few moments peeking at the DVR'd taping of the Golden globes.. and Claire Daines the actress who won a golden globe for the movie.. Temple Grandin... stood up to accept her award... and Temple was there with her cowboy shirt, cheering her on and hugging her. I found myself crying.. Maybe I was crying.. because it's such a great story.. and Temple hugged her, when many Autistic and Aspereger people do not like to be hugged always. Most people wouldn't care ... they might even skip or fast forward... but I reveled in it.. I find Autism and Aspergers fasinating.. and I know it must feel isolating at some times for these individuals and these families.

There are a few  scenes in the movie.. that many of my friends found really disturbing...  but one was a scene where Temple get's very upset and has anxiety.. and she wants her relative to put her in the cattle machine, she feels it gives her a calm. It's like a big hug or a squeeze.
This is explained best by Temples own words:
"CERTAIN SENSORY PROCESSING problems may be explained by cerebellar abnormalities. In addition to the familiar roles of the cerebellum in motor coordination and balance, there are suggestions that the cerebellum may also have functions in sensory processing. Early studies found that stimulation of the cerebellar vermis caused a cat to become hypersensitive to touch and to sound (Chambers 1947). More recent work in rats also suggests that the cerebellum acts as a modulator of sensory input for various sensory modalities, effectively functioning as a type of volume control; lobules V, Vl, and VII of the vermis appear to be the most crucial sites (Crisping and Bullock 1984). People with autism have many sensory processing deficits, including problems in modulating sensory input (Ornitz 1985). Most research on sensory processing problems in autistic individuals has studied the auditory and visual modalities. It may be hypothesized that some of the sensory processing problems in autistic disorder might be related to abnormalities of the cerebellum.
Courchesne et al. (1988) found that a majority (14/18) of high-functioning adults with autistic disorder had cerebellar abnormalities. Brain autopsy research has also revealed cerebellar abnormalities in autism, especially in lobules V, Vl, and Vll of the vermis (Bauman and Kemper 1985, Ritvo et al. 1986).
When I was age 3, I had standard autistic symptoms such as intolerance to being touched, inability to speak, tantrums, and stereotypic behavior. I would stiffen and pull away when people touched me, and I was oversensitive to both touch and sound (Grandin 1989a, Grandin and Scarino 1986) Magnetic resonance image (MRI) scans have revealed that my cerebellum is undersized, and I have a slight balance problem.
I will describe here a deep touch pressure device ("squeeze machine") that I developed to help me overcome problems of oversensitivity to touch, and that allays my nervousness. Reactions of other people to the squeeze machine, including children with autistic disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are also reported.
Finally, the animal literature on deep touch pressure will be surveyed, revealing that similar calming reactions may be generally observed in response to deep touch pressure in higher animals. However, in view of the possibility that cerebellar abnormalities may cause hypersensitivity to touch, the therapeutic response of children with autism to correctly applied deep touch pressure might be partially explained by a cerebellar mechanism."
At the age of 42 I find I am learning just now what works for me in many ways and what does NOT.. I am not a huge hugger... I do not always like the sensation.. and sometimes shy away from it, I know the person who wants to hug.. may need it... so I do allow myself to do it often, but not as often as my friends or family think I should. I also make sure to hug my son, as often as possible. I have learned that my son and myself have many sensory processing issues and I have begun studying this. I have much sensitivity to noise as well. I will tell you that I love deep touch massages.. when I have the money to go to a spa to get it... so I am not totally against touch...
On a semi-related note.. Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Dysfunction, occurs when the brain inefficiently processes sensory messages coming from a person's own body and his or her environment. The person has difficulty responding in an adaptive way to every day sensations that others hardly notice or simply take in stride.
Sensory Processing is important for these everyday functions:
Academic skills
Auditory discrimination
Bilateral coordination
Body awareness
Body position
emotional security
eye-foot coordination
Gravitational security
Gross Motor skills
Hand preference
Healthy relationships with others
Muscle tone
Postural stability
Praxis including motor planning
social skills
speech and language skills
Visual discrimination
SO you might say .. hey  I have trouble with those things do I have Sensory processing issues... if you think so give The book The Out-of-Sync-Child has fun or the Out of Sync child ... a look.
There are things called sensory diets.. that you can do that can help you... strengthen or regulate your dysfunctions. ( no it's not a food)
People my age all the time tell me that they hated high-school because they felt different and they were treated different.. I was very different.. but I never felt bad about it.. I may have felt lonely from time to time.. or that I had to work harder than most.. but I was not made to feel poor about who I was. I guess I was lucky. I feel for children who are struggling with this.. and even adults. I want to shout Temple and her mom's words... My child that child... is Different not less....


Ella said...

Different not less, is a beautiful way to look at our world! We all fit could fit in this sentiment~xXx

Carol Kranowitz said...

Always an honor to see my books, "The Out-of-Sync Child" and "The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun" recommended! Thank you, One Wasabi Mommy for steering your readers to them. You may also be interested in my latest book that I co-authored with Joye Newman, a perceptual-motor therapist, founder of The Kids Moving Company. The new book is "Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn and Grow" (Perigee, 2010). We include fun and functional activities that help strengthen sensory, perceptual-motor, and visual processing skills. The activities are for ALL children, not specifically for kids with SPD, so siblings and classmates can enjoy them, too. Check out our website at and learn how to give children a head start and a leg up. With warmest thanks, Carol (and Joye)

Arlee Bird said...

I like that "different not less" outlook. We are all different and what a boring world if it were not so. This was an intense and deep post.

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