Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Until all the pieces come together...


For a long time I remained obsessed with the greater picture.  In other parlance, I couldn't see the trees through the forest.  My brain deals with whole images, and has difficulty with constructs made of many parts.  

This "reverse polarity" also shows up in regards to  the way I learn verses the way a "typical" person learns.   A "normal" child will learn, once (s)he puts there hand in the fire, that it burns and never to do it again under any circumstance.  If (s)he sees a fire again in an altogether different circumstance, (s)he generalizes, learns from a single example and then applies the knowledge to an other part of their life.

But a child that is not neuro-typical might not learn it that way.  Rather we learn by the eventually collecting of various situations and form an understanding that they are related.  We don't generalize our skills well into other domains of our lives.  Speaking for myself, many of us feel compartmentalized and split off from parts of ourself (I don't mean in a multiple personality sort of way, rather that our "theory of mind" or conceptual framework that "I am not my thoughts, thoughts are things and I can examine and change them. others have thoughts feelings and emotions to and I can relate and communicate with them by understanding how they think")  It is only later in life, I'm now in my fifties; where I have developed this theory of mind to a powerful and helpful extent been able to implement change and growth in my life more than in decades.   Is is my opinion that theory of mind is the single-most profound gift and skill that a parent of a developmentally disabled child can attempt to reinforce and nurture.

I never had this in life, until recent times.  I had a firm intellectual grasps on the concepts, but could not "self-apply" them as I can now.  In my case it is the result of hard work, and many years of deep introspection.  I was in fact very aware of my mental processes on a conscious level, but could neither affect them nor interact with them in any creative capacity.  Self-Inquiry and meditation, many dear teachers, doctors and therapists, case managers, occupational therapists and many others now assisting me, and for the first time at 51 years old I get it....  the world is my oyster.

Later in life, I now have a better grasp on the concept of the "pieces that make up the whole person 'me' ..." As long as everything is exactly the way I want it to be, I am totally flexible... Funny? Perhaps, but true nonetheless. Our thinking, my thinking, is inherently black or white, has trouble with grey let alone the rainbow of colours.  Behavioral flexibility is another piece of the puzzle that you can introduce into even a child's needed routine.  For example, I have a very bad time remembering to and brushing my teeth.  I would even walk up to the toothbrush several times, look at it and walk away.  I then was taught about introducing flexibility into my all or nothing thinking and it would work it's way, so to speak into other areas of my life.  So, the next time I walked up to the toothbrush and "gave up" because I started walking away, I decided to grab the electric toothbrush and use it at the kitchen sink, then finish upstair with the flosser.  The next day I did the same, but walked to the downstairs bathroom.  I have "given myself options" and those options help me to follow through on thoughts and/or tasks.  

We (I) have very strict mental "lines" in our thinking process.  If even one little thing in our pattern that we have established gets "moved over" we cannot function, and are liable to get really angry, and deregulated in behavior and communications.  Teaching flexibility can change that, and the earlier, the better.  Even if your child is not yet diagnosed, work to reinforce these things, and do it now,  do it right away.  The earlier the intervention the better the outcome, period.   Perhaps in these earliest years, you can benefit and do more for your child than during the rest of there lives.  

To be fair, I'm certain my own parent knew nothing of my thinking processes persay (they had no concept of their own, what was I to expect?)  While I have worked through and healed the bitterness and pain, I must clearly admit and recognized that had I been given correct treatment, diagnoses and care from the earliest age, I would be an entirely different person today.  Be that as it may, my task is to encourage and educate others to to so for their children without reservation.

Until all the pieces come together, I'll not cease to try and help  myself and others gifted with our unique neurology.  There is quite a bit of evidence now in science that what we think of as absolute genius, Einstein for example, is actually an abnormality, often a mutation.  The spacial-visual parts of his brain are many times larger than seen in typical humans....and he (began to) unravel time and space before our eyes...

I am unique, I am different, I am, as are you, made of many different parts...we need not hide in the shadows anymore. We are your friend, your boss, your mailman, your neighbor, and we are coming out into the light and we are going to shine.  We are only "disabled" as in the actual sense of the word; society has barriers to our equal access.  This is as much true, if not more for children and adults with a developmental disability or ACC.  Our difference is often ridiculed, and scorned and "tolerated."   While I would be a liar to say that my DDs haven't held me back in life, I would not trade my brain for anything in the world...I wouldn't be myself anymore, and I would have my talents and gifts, my love and compassion and urge for equality for all.

~joseph



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