Monday, August 2, 2010

Understanding Autism –The SOMA Way

Here are the answers to some of the questions that have evaded you since the time you had a child on the spectrum
Why is a social smile so difficult for our children?
                                 I have snaps of Ramam when he was small, holding his lips when asked to smile for a photo, which means he has understood the social context but a smile is not an easy one. As Soma explains “In a social situation, there is a stimulus which begins in the hypothalamus, from there the impulse goes to the body to create physical changes, such as muscle contraction  as neurotransmitters are released. The changes are then fed to the somatosensory cortex of the brain, which sends the emotion forward to the frontal cortex where it is interpreted as hey! We have an emotion here”. In simpler words the neural pathway is a long one and a stronger impulse may overcome this impulse. The person with autism may recognize the need to smile, but may not be able to produce a smile at that particular moment, simply because muscle movement at the required moment has failed.

Why is that they display aggression/anger in a social situation. After all it is also an emotion.
                                     Recently my daughter banged the door in a display of anger. I say display because she wanted to prove her anger. My maid was shocked and told me it is not a good thing for somebody so young. Regular kids also have tantrums,and can be angry. It is a different story our kids are expected to be well behaved on all occasions, despite having a problem expressing them. Having digressed, coming back to the point as soma explains, behaviors arise from the limbic pathway. The amygdale in the limbic system is the centre for all primary emotions. This is a shorter pathway and the trigger to the neurons happens faster as compared to the example of   a social smile.

Why couldn’t  X  bring me the book when I asked him to?
                                            The failure to retrieve the book may not mean he does not know which book you are referring to, but may be related to his planning based on his particular perception of reality. Given his fragmented view, he may supplement it with a different activity. Honestly, this explanation is beyond me and maybe you have to figure this out.
                                      There are a lot of questions relevant to handling autism answered in this book. These are some of the ones that interested me.

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