Sub-title: No, I did not use a soldering iron nor electrical tape. 🙂
‘Autistic brains are wired differently’ is the usual saying by most autistics that write about being autistic. We usually go a little further and say ‘we have a different operating system’ using the computer as an analogy.
I agree with that to a point, but when one dives into the complexities of the brain, especially the biology of that three pound glob between one’s ears, it’s a lot more complicated than either a different wiring or an alternate pathway of synapses for those electrically charged neurons.
Since October 17, 2015 I have been very busy taking a self-paced course called Rheumatology 101. Since it’s self-paced, I’m only focussing on two of the 100 plus rheumatic autoimmune diseases, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), also known just as “Lupus”, and Sjogren’s Syndrome.
This course is packed full of technical data, terminology, and a couple of sub-courses including cellular biology and immunology.
In less than three months, I have read over three hundred (300) technical research papers, around five hundred (500) ancillary articles from various professional and patient support websites, and I’m currently dredging along in several very page intensive technical medical books on the above subset of rheumatic autoimmune diseases.
I feel like I have fried my brain with all of this data and information input.
However, I noticed something the other day, my “fried brain” is working better than ever!
For the past couple of weeks when I write an email or attempt to write a post, I no longer misspell words incessantly nor do I inadvertently leave words out of a paragraph even though I was thinking of the those words and intending to include them.
Those little bad “brain farts” are often referred to as a type of Aphasia or simply Cognitive Dysfunction, and sometimes connected with Dyslexia.
Since I’m a scientist, I had to stop, think, and analyze that apparent revelation.
Although I’m exhausted from this self imposed crash course, I’m elated that I was able to absorb all of this technical information, understand it, and remember it!
I’m even more elated that I can write this post without misspelling or omitting words.
So what’s the connection with my “fried brain” and my miraculous recovery from Aphasia?
We have a lot liquid sloshing around within our bodies including our brains, and that liquid is made up of something called ‘cells’.
In fact, we have more than 10 trillion cells in our bodies and neurons are actually ‘nerve cells’.
We’re constantly reprogramming our brains on a daily basis, and the cells in our bodies are doing the same thing.
We learn new things, create new brain neuronal pathways, and alter our brain’s operating system in the process.
Cells have their own operating systems as well, and it’s just as dynamic caused by the air we breath, the food we ingest, and other environmental factors.
What I think may have happened in my case is that my autistic obsessive compulsive behavior to ‘focus’ for long hours at a time on really technical material caused a surge in neuronal firings.
Those neuronal firings circumvented the malfunctioning synapses to create new pathways to reach the intended endpoints.
What does all this gibberish mean?
The magic word is ‘Focus’.
I had a problem to solve, my convoluted history of medical misdiagnoses, and I was fed up relying on the paid medical professionals that I’ve hired over the years without arriving at some reasonable conclusion, so I had to do it myself and I chose to do it at warp speed!
That required an average of five (5) hours a day studying and learning new complicated areas of medicine that I was not familiar with, cellular biology and immunology, in order to understand the research articles that I was reading.
In the process, I found out that I was having a good time and enjoying it!
Which leads me to my favorite author, Dr. Temple Grandin.
Dr. Grandin preaches a religion about how to help young autistics.
One of her most resonated messages is “help the child to ‘focus’ on what they like to do, and help him/her be the best at it!”
Whether or not the rewiring of my brain is temporary or permanent I have no idea, but I’m convinced that’s what happened, and it was the result of ‘focussing’, learning, thinking, and applying that new knowledge to solve a problem.
Can autism be cured? Absolutely not!
Can we mitigate certain autistic traits caused by faulty brain synapses? Maybe…
If “our brains (autistic) are wired differently” and “we have a different operating system,” then we have the tools to modify both.
And the tools that I used were ‘researching’, ‘the power of thinking’, ‘intense problem solving’, and most importantly ‘foccussing’.
I hope my experience with modifying my ‘operating system’ can inspire the reader to challenge themselves by diving into a complex subject that may have some benefit in their lives.
To be continued…