So, back maybe 6 months ago, it was determined that the Padawan, having been diagnosed with autism and ADHD, also had something called a peripheral motor disfunction.
All I was told at the time was that this meant his brain wasn’t “speaking” to various parts of his body. Specifically, I had been told that his brain couldn’t feel his abdomen/pelvic region or his hands.
After spending an hour with him and taking him through various exercises, everything from writing his name, to copying pictures to throwing balls and standing on one foot, she had a clear idea of what was going on.
She told me he is highly intelligent but suffering with overactive muscles (constant tension, even when in a state of rest) and compensating for the lack of control through his behaviors. This constant state of tension creates such a major distraction in the brain, to the point where his mind is using more of it’s available resource and energy helping him function through the basic, mundane tasks of his day than most people.
He has become highly creative and has an accelerated level of creativity and imagination for his age. She said this is, in part at least, because his brain has learned to compensate for his lack of awareness by switching from right to left brain dominance when needed. This is also why he has no left/right awareness or dominance. Meaning, he switches from his left to his right hand indiscriminately and often confuses left from right. This is also why he has a hard time throwing balls or frisbees or catching ANYthing, no matter how close he is to it. This is why he has difficulty reading, writing or processing any written concepts of any kind.
Everything that he is learning, he’s having to learn through what she called a “splintered pathway” of understanding. She explained it this way because it’s not a direct path – not a straight line from stimulus to understanding. She said it’s more like a lightening bolt, with many, sharp points along the way and at each point, there is an opportunity for the information to be lost, changed, or forgotten. Every time the information reaches a point on the lightening bolt, it has to be redirected back on track, so there are literally hundreds of opportunities for the data to be lost along the way!
It’s like having to race through your busiest day full of commitments to a bunch of different people, after having not slept in 3 days, and feeling like if you don’t do everything perfectly, the world will literally end. She said… that’s how he is living every day of his life.
She believes this is why he has no short-term memory, why he is literally the poster-child for ADHD in almost every way, and why he still has pee/poop accidents when he is overwhelmed or hyper-focused on something like playing with friends, watching a movie he’s super into, or playing a video game. She believes most of his behaviors, his lack of control, his impulsive and compulsiveness, his anger and violent outbursts and emotional meltdowns… it’s all stemming from this inability to keep it all together, all the time, and still do things like walk, breathe, eat, listen to people, and basically, just… live.
It also made me think of what happens when we walk through a door and forget what we’re doing once we step into the other room. That’s him – all the time, with every single thing he’s doing in his day, but instead of wondering what he was supposed to do, his creative brain fills in the gaps with some random thing he likes and the original purpose is completely lost. “I was looking for green socks” turns into “I was looking for something that is green and goes on my foot… Things that go on my foot… Oh! I bet I could put this shoe on my head and walk around without it falling off- let me try that 5 times in a row for no reason whatsoever!”
So, obviously, this is making normal life 10 times harder, (for everyone) making mundane tasks less intuitive and taking twice the energy and effort for him than it would for anyone else… JUST to understand what is going on around him.
So, with learning, She told me with anything that has to do with language; writing, reading or even math… if it’s on paper and has to be processed visually or a writing utensil is required, it’s not that it’s entirely worthless to teach him, but he may not retain the full concept at all until his brain has a clear pathway to get from A-to-Z.
She said that he will be able to memorize things through repetition so he can commit them to long-term memory, but he’s not really going to have a true understanding until his body and his brain learn to work together.
The effort being exerted through a constant state of tension is taking up like 80% of his brain power with only 20% left to learn with.
She even said it’s likely that after a year of this work, if we are super diligent about it and don’t slack off on getting it done, his test results may be entirely different.
She said not to get our hopes up becuase every child is different, but after focusing on this for at least a year, not only should he make significant progress in all areas of his life, but even his diagnosis may change.
Interestingly, she said over 80% of her patients are c-section babies (he was breech and taken via C-Section at 36 1/2 weeks after my water broke). She explained that the experience of the contractions manipulating and pressing against the body as it moves out of the birth canal brings a type of brain and body awareness that cannot be accomplished by any other means. Without it, sometimes children are left without that connection to having ever been triggered the “on” switch.
Clearly, this isn’t the ONLY cause of a deficiency like this, as she does have patients who were born naturally. She said birth trauma, illnesses and other factors can come into play, as well. It’s all still a fairly new science, so the “why” is still out there.
So, yeah – lots of stuff going on. There is a lot to process and many things to work through. I’m hoping this puts us one step closer to helping him feel that he truly has control over his life, his body and his future. I’ll update you on our situation as new situations arise.
If you have any questions or can share a similar story, please don’t hesitate to respond in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!