Neuro-bollocks?

Been reading an academic paper I found online for past 2 days, only to find out tonight that it’s co-author runs a string of clinics (America of course) that offer treatment to neurological conditions like ADHD and autism… HEAVY SIGH. I still think some of it may be sound information though? (Other author is G. Leisman, who seems kosher and reputable.) But it’s always very convenient to over-simplify autism when you’re trying to earn money mending it, isn’t it?

Sensory Integration, Dr A. Jean Ayres + Motion Sickness

Dr A. Jean Ayres’ neuroscientific studies into Sensory Integration identified 8 senses. As well as Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch she identified Vestibular (referring to structures within the inner ear), Proprioception (awareness of one’s body in space) and Interoception (awareness of what’s going on inside one’s body).  She defined sensory integration as:

“The neurological process that organises sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively with the environment” (1972)    [https://www.sensoryintegration.org.uk/What-is-SI]

Jean Ayres (1920 – 1988) was particularly interested in the interaction between touch, vision & hearing, and the vestibular and proprioceptive senses:

“Children and adults with autism, as well as those with other developmental disabilities, may have a dysfunctional sensory system. Sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation. Such sensory problems may be the underlying reason for such behaviors as rocking, spinning, and hand-flapping. Although the receptors for the senses are located in the peripheral nervous system (which includes everything but the brain and spinal cord), it is believed that the problem stems from neurological dysfunction in the central nervous system–the brain.”       [Jean Ayres ~ http://www.autism.com/symptoms_sensory_overview%5D

 

I am a lifelong sufferer of travel sickness.  Travel sickness’ is usually associated with children, and non-sufferers often seem to think it’s largely a ‘mind over matter’ type of condition, and nausea and vomiting are what typically come to mind when people think of it.  However, motion sickness has received a great deal of research attention from the military, and it comprises a much broader and more complex syndrome.  It includes a wide range of signs and symptoms including cold sweating, pallor of varying degrees, increases in salivation, drowsiness, headache, and even severe pain [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112051/]; in fact neurological chaos.

The vestibular system and the cerebellum have long been implicated in motion sickness.  The vestibular system, which is part of the inner ear, monitors movement and helps control balance, while the cerebellum processes information from the brain and peripheral nervous system for balance and body control.  While research still hasn’t clarified exactly what causes motion sickness, the prevailing belief is that there is a sensory mismatch between (ie. problems with the integration of) the visual and vestibular systems.

The Challenge of Homeostasis

Homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems.  Many of the living organism’s variables, such as body temperature and fluid balance, have to be kept steady, within certain pre-set limits.  The endocrine and central nervous systems are the major control systems for regulatory homeostasis.

https://microbenotes.com/homeostasis/ explains: “Homeostasis is the ability of living systems to maintain a steady and uniform internal environment to allow the normal functioning of the systems.”  The 3 three types of homeostatic regulation in the body are given as thermoregulation, osmoregulation and chemical regulation.

Thermoregulation I have long had difficulties with.  I describe my difficulties organising incoming sensory information in my essay ‘Fantasy Autism Simulation Suit’ (which isn’t yet on here; I hit technical problems), and explore Dr A. Jean Ayres’ neuroscientific studies into Sensory Integration.  The 8 senses she discusses include Interoception (awareness of what’s going on inside the body), and I feel this is linked to the body’s homeostasis.

Would it surprise you to know that the majority of autistic people exhibit some kind of autonomic dysregulation and that this can affect all sorts of things like anxiety, gastrointestinal function, and even the immune system?” says scienceoveracuppa.com.  No, says I.

A.S.D. in Lockdown

“Neurotypical people are now getting a taste of my way of life:  anxiety about going out (trying to plan everything so it can be done in one trip, with the least encounters); avoidance of and distancing of unfamiliar people; trying to avoid travel; having to turn inwards and pursue inner resources + personal interests; shrinking lives and no contact with friends!

My lifestyle choice has suddenly become a valid one!”

I wrote this at the beginning of Lockdown.  Then I wrote:

“I heard a disabled woman on the radio a while ago say that this period of restrictions re: going out will help non-disabled people empathise with those whose movements are always restricted. This may help people relate to others who are  restricted physically, but it won’t help them understand those who suffer with difficulties in going out because they have ASD.

There may be some parallels in the widespread anxiety about going out (trying to plan everything so it can be done in one trip, with the least encounters); avoidance of and distancing of unfamiliar people; trying to avoid travel; having to turn inwards and pursue inner resources + personal interests; shrinking lives and no contact with friends…  but the N.T.s have friends and social lives to pick up again.  And they will return to accommodating the ‘normal’ pace of life, and ‘normal’ noisy hectic atmospheres, probably happily, as the restrictions disappear.

For me, my anxiety dreams have been incredibly reduced during this period of restricted, ‘abnormal’ living.  Neurotypical people don’t, and will never know, how disabling the anxiety-load of what is ‘normal’ can be.”

More recently the words of a woman on the radio leapt out at me:

“There’s a whole load of adaptability that takes place in order to survive in an environment which is toxic to you… [it’s] a public health issue ~ it’s a toxin that impacts on people…  And so people make adaptations over a period of their lifetime… and for some of them, surviving means remaining invisible and silent [and shining a light on them to highlight this has the effect of making them feeling:] ‘Oh my goodness, we’re being exposed again in a negative light’…”

It turned out to be someone called Carol Cooper, who was actually talking about racism.

Pathologized Identity

As explored in my essay ‘Pathologized Identity and ABA’, in order to inflict ‘correction’ on other human beings, we must first pathologize their identities (‘otherizing’ them).

The Editors’ Code of Practice [https://www.ipso.co.uk/editors-code-of-practice/] sets out the rules that newspapers and magazines have agreed to follow, and that is enforced by IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation).  The following Clauses set out the framework for the highest professional standards that members of the press subscribing to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, have undertaken to maintain.

Accuracy

Privacy

Harassment

Intrusion into grief or shock

Reporting suicide

Children

Children in sex cases

Hospitals

Reporting of crime

Clandestine devices and subterfuge

Victims of sexual assault

Discrimination

Financial journalism

Confidential sources

Witness payments in criminal trials

Payments to criminals

The public Interest

Having contacted IPSO, their ‘Systems Handler’ Todd Stammers responded explaining that many of the Code’s Clauses “may relate to concerns regarding mental health”.  In his opinion: “The most obvious would be Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination), however if you look through the Code you could see that there are certain Clauses which could be engaged, depending on the topic. For example, your concerns appear to align with Clause 1 (Accuracy).”

It looks like the Accuracy clause is the relevant one:-

    1. i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

The fact that the young man now convicted of the attempted the killing of a 6-year-old boy, by throwing him off the 10th floor of the Tate Modern, had a diagnosis of ASD, is NOT RELEVANT to those actions for which he was in court.  The throwing in of this information to the headline reporting of the court case was prejudicial and damaging.

Guilt by Association

BBC Radio 2 morning news report of 25th June 2020:-

The Old Bailey has been told how a teenager smiled and shrugged after throwing a 6-year-old boy from a tenth-floor balcony at the Tate Modern in Summer…   has autism”

Steve Silberberg in ‘Neurotribes’ (2015) observed that “[autistic] ‘symptoms’ should be regarded as naturally occurring cognitive variations.”  But when, as in this case, the Press or someone else associates autism/ASD with horrific actions such as these… it sets us all back infinitely.

So, logically…

It’s happened twice this week that a person in authority has made an incorrect inference about me. One was within the benefits system and the other was in the NHS. First it was deducted that I can’t have any trouble dealing with official documents/departments because I have an Open University degree. Second time I was told that people wouldn’t guess (?believe) that I had Asperger’s Syndrome because I can speak articulately.

Bad Day

“If you could press a button and get rid of your condition right now, just be neurotypical instead, would you?” YES, of course I would you fuckwit, and anyone who says different is lying, or is managing to gain some benefit from their AS-given gifts (Good luck to them), or is having a Good Day. I’ve not had many of those lately and have spent a good portion of my life wishing I could be someone else.
How many Aspergics does it take to change a lightbulb..? Just the one but it does depend how much depression and anxiety they are currently suffering.