Friday, January 27, 2012

Inner Speech, do you have it?

When you read do you hear a voice?  Is it often a the voice of what you know or think the author sounds like?  I was shocked to learn a few months ago that some people do. I ran across this article about how dyslexics don't have an inner voice when they read.  I guess that most people when they are reading have a voice inside of their head that they hear.  It often is the voice of what they know, or perceive the author of the written text to sound like!  This was shocking to me.  I went to my husband, then to my daughter (who are both dyslexic) and asked them if they heard 'a voice' when they read.  They verified they did not.  However, I don't either.  I am not by any means dyslexic.  I never knew anyone did! I know enough about dyslexia to know that just like many on the autism spectrum, they think in pictures.  Obviously, this inner speech thing is not central to being dyslexic, or autistic, but rather a byproduct of being wired differently.  Though, not everyone on the spectrum has no inner speech, either as I went straight for a very active AS forum and inquired about their inner speech, or lack of there.  A few pages of responses later and there were no clear evidence that we all were the same in this area.

So, to my surprise, I have seen the same type of inner speech theory  come up this week in relation to autism and ability to problem solve.  I think that their data and reasoning behind it is flawed.  I also think that the test to see if you 'have inner speech' (which I will post later in this entry) will produce much worry on the behalf of ASD parents everywhere that want their child to learn to live independently. It also assumes that one can bypass this issue by teaching an autistic person who thinks in pictures at a young age to use words instead.  This makes no sense to me.  It is impossible to think in a different way then one is wired to think.  It would be like trying to force Windows to run on a Mac.  Not gonna be compatible and everyone is gonna be confused and frustrated in the end.

How does someone like me, who runs a household efficiently and is capable of living independently do it without an inner voice to problem solve, or scaffolding, as my son's speech path would say?  I talk out loud, to myself.  Not as in having a conversation with myself, but as in talking myself through each step.  I'm sure that many of you with verbal children on the autism spectrum have heard your child talk to themselves.  We do this, because we don't do it inside of our heads like others do.  The more I concentrate on something the more I need to speak out loud about each step.  I know my son can be heard in his room at night repeating many conversations he's had with others that day, or practicing on new ones while he goes to sleep.  This is our way of working through the social stuff that you all do by instinct.  For me, it got much worse in my adolescence, though I don't know why.  I'm guessing it was due to needing to focus all that much more on the social side of language, instead of just using it for sharing information, as I had used it my whole life up until that point.  No matter what it is, I problem solve it out loud, or by writing it down.

To test your inner speech ability: 

(Taken from the link above)\

For this you need two people - one asking the questions and the other doing the test. If you find any of this difficult, it may indicate problems with reading.
Ask the person to say numbers one to 26 out loud, then to say them again, but saying one out loud and two and three in their heads, with their tongue clamped between their teeth.

They must not move any part of their body, such as nodding their head or using their fingers.
The correct sequence would be 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25. They must complete it within 25 seconds.
Using a pen, tap on the table, say, ten times and ask the other person to count the taps in their head, applying the same rules as above.

How did you do?  If you would, please leave a comment about how you did on the test and whether or not you have an ASD, dyslexia or ADHD.  You can also find more tests and some very interesting data on this page  about inner speech and different learning abilities.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spot the Autism

This video here poses a question about being able to 'spot the autism' .  I did right away, but I will post it and continue with my writing below so you can take a moment to watch it, so as I don't give away my point.

Were you able to see it?  I found this on a FB page about autism.  The page owner said she had experience with autism for over 25 years and couldn't spot the autistic child in the video until it was pointed out to her.  I interjected that I could right away and attempted to explain why in one or two sentences.  The entire thread continued on about services being so wonderful and inclusion and latidah.... everyone putting in their two cents about how they could never ever tell... completely ignoring the fact that I said anything.  Apparently,  they don't acknowledge any autism unless it fits their definition of what they think autism is and me and my words weren't it, as well as this little girl's actions.  The girl in the video could have been me as a child easily.  She is not behaving non-autisticly. She is copying NT behavior.  That is how I can tell she was on the spectrum, immediately.  She is me as a child, and even now as adult.  Watch carefully, and you'll see that she is always one second behind everyone else.  She pauses and looks around to see what she is supposed to be doing in that moment, then does it.  She is becoming a master chameleon.  When in doubt, just follow along, as been my motto for my whole life.  I can fit into any situation that I need to by smiling and mirroring. It isn't natural.  It never will be.  That's why socializing with others is so tiring and difficult.  It's like doing a huge math problem in my head.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think that that inclusion is a bad thing, or that ASD kids can't be taught social skills. I think inclusion is great and we can most definitely learn social skills, but it's not ever going to be second nature to us.  All I am saying is please don't ever think that if ASD kids are force fitted into social situations we will by osmosis become more typical, because that's not what necessarily happens. We may learn to fake it more, but it will always be an act.  As for the original intent of the video, I really don't see where schools try to exclude kids with autism.  I've always had the opposite problem, which is getting schools to address my son's (Bubby, because he is more like the girl in this video) autism.  That's another post for another day, though! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oh No. Here We Go Again...

I'm seeing a lot of posts and tweets about the new upcoming series on Fox called Touch .  I haven't seen many critical reviews of what I see is a horrible representation of autism.  People complain about Rainman being referenced to autism, but like this?  I don't get it.  Autism is not a shell.  Autistic people are not paranormal changelings, indigo people, bridges to higher otherworldly knowledge, witches, magical, or any other mythical being.  We are human.  Nonverbal autistics are not mute angels sent here as prophets with otherworldy messages.  If you don't know what damage this sort of TV program can do, please do a google search for autism and witches, or autism and paranormal, or autism and clairvoyant, or autism and psychic.  Expect these results to be more common after this show airs.  When I meet someone in the supermarket I do not want Touch to be what they think of when they see my nonverbal son.  I thought we left that awful stereotyping back on the 90's with movies like Mercury Rising.  I'm really concerned with the odd ideas this show is gonna put into people's minds about autism. I do understand that this is a fictional program that is depicting a fictional scenario, but is those without any idea as to what autism is going to fully grasp that?  That's my concern.

Edited to add this link as an example of what I'm talking about:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sensory Solutions Part One:

In the next few entries I'd like to talk about the sensory system , sensory processing issues , and some solutions for these things that can commonly occur in people with neurological differences.  This will probably be a two or three part series, so that I can cover the topic thoroughly.  It's such an important area to address when dealing with disorders such as autism, asperger's and sometimes ADHD.  If we can get the sensory system operating optimally so many of what parents and clinicians call 'behaviors' would disappear.

The sensory system is a wonderful mechanism allowing us to process the world in our own private way.  We all have experiences in the sensory realm that is individual to us at any given moment.  We seek these experiences out, and are often equated to the feeling of what it means to be alive.  Memories are even stored around this information.  A certain smell of perfume, or sound of a song, or taste of dessert can bring us back in time years ago.  This is how potent and important our sensory experiences are to us as human beings.  However, as much as we put a high value on seeking out pleasant sensory experiences, it's equally unpleasant when our sensory systems don't work correctly.  We can get too much information at once making us feel attacked by our environment, or not enough information leading us to feel out of sorts and needing some input from our surroundings.

There are five sub-systems that make up  our sensory system:

1. Visual: This is the system in which allows us to visually interpret the world around us.

2. Auditory: the sense of hearing

3.  Somatosensory: This is the complex system we use to process touch. This one is the most diverse system we have, as it affects how we interpret  temperature, pain, body position, and tactile perceptions.

4. Gustatory: This is the system that processes taste such as, sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami (which is a Japanese word meaning savory, or to describe a particularly delicious food)

5. Olfactory: or sense of smell

Sometimes, when the nervous system interprets signals differently or in an unorganized way our experience of the world gets out of whack.  Our response to certain smells, sounds, and sights as well as textures can feel like torture.  This is considered hypersensitivity.  When the environment does not provide enough input via our sensory system it's called hyposensitive.  From what I've noticed kids on the more severe end of the autism spectrum seem to be hyposensitive to sensory stimuli.  Their day is usual filled with self stimulatory (stims) activities designed to provide them  with the sensory input that they crave to feel comfortable.  Although, most people on the spectrum have varying degrees of being hyper and hypo-sensitive with different senses at different times. In order to help people with Sensory Processing Disorder a sensory diet may be implemented.  It's always best to consult with an Occupational Therapist to develop a plan to suit your child best, but that is not always possible for everyone.  I'll be sharing tips, as well as different tools to help develop a workable sensory diet for anyone needing help maintaining their sensory system.