Musings, news, and research about neurology, brain physiology, psychology, and behavior. Particular focus on Autism, ADHD, and depression.
I didn’t write this, I lived it. All I would add is that for most of these, the word ‘child’ could just as well be; friend, sibling, partner, employee. Credit to the anonymous author.
- I’m trying way harder than you’ll ever know even though it doesn’t seem like it to you. I really, truly am.
- Criticizing me or getting angry at me that my brain doesn’t work better doesn’t help me. It makes me hate myself even more.
- I’m painfully aware of all the areas that I’m not measuring up. Instead of making a big deal about my shortcomings, try to find ways to help me.
- An accommodation isn’t the same as enabling. If you help me where I’m genuinely struggling, I’m going to be grateful. Don’t assume that I’m manipulating you.
- I’m not doing this to you, it’s NOT something I am doing on purpose.
- If you think it’s hard to live with me, imagine trying to live inside a body that won’t do what you want it to do.
- My brain doesn’t work right but I don’t know how to tell you that. It makes me angry and unkind, but I’m not trying to be that way.
- When I’m being horrible, what I really need is for you to tell me you’ll love me no matter what. And maybe hug me, too. I probably believe that I’m unlovable, so prove me wrong.
- I know that my lack of motivation is frustrating, but pushing harder doesn’t help me do better.
- My anger and frustration is a result of my brain not processing properly. When I’m overwhelmed and freaking out, don’t escalate by freaking out or getting angry too. I need you to be calm and show me that everything’s going to be fine even when I feel like it’s not.
- If I get overwhelmed, don’t expect me to sort out the problem all by myself. The part of my brain that controls regulation doesn’t work properly. That’s why I need your help to regulate.
- Don’t try to break me of things that you see as weaknesses. My sensitivity as a child means I’ll be compassionate as an adult. My stubbornness as a child means I’ll be independent and assertive as an adult. Instead of squashing these characteristics, channel them toward something good that can benefit me when I’m older. Don’t view me as something that needs fixed or toughened up.
- Don’t be afraid of labeling me. A label gives me answers and help. If my condition is serious enough to need to be diagnosed, you can guarantee that I’ve noticed something’s wrong and I’m wondering why I’m different too. Unless you tell me what’s going on, I’m likely to grow up angry and confused about why everyone has it all together and I don’t. A label means I can get help, it gives me answers and vindication.
- I have a real, actual medical condition in my brain. It’s just as real as if I had Type 1 Diabetes. Just like Diabetes, I need help to deal with the condition. No one tells someone with Type 1 Diabetes that they are lazy if they’re tired because their blood sugar is low. They understand that it’s part of the condition.
- Please, please, please learn about my condition, and don’t blame me for things that are out of my control. Just like leaving Type 1 Diabetes untreated results in serious complications and even death, untreated ADHD can lead to serious complications – potentially including death. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat ADHD (and medication isn’t the only way but a sure way to help me).
- My frontal lobe is developing 30% behind normal. Please understand this and don’t put me in situations I’m not ready to handle. If you give me responsibility that’s beyond my developmental age, don’t be angry with me that I do poorly. That’s setting me up for failure, and that’s just cruel.
- Stop expecting me to be normal. I can’t be. Not for all my trying. Until you accept that, I’ll always be a failure in your eyes, and I’ll always view myself as not good enough.
- You have the power to make me miserable by how you treat me. Remember to treat me with love and grace. Treat me how you would want to be treated if you were struggling with a problem in your brain. I may make myself miserable sometimes, but don’t add to that by treating me poorly. When in doubt, be kind. Believe me, I need your kindness, love, support, time and validation.
Nobody Understands (but they all think they do)
Executive Dysfunction, motivation, avoidance, resistance, disorganization
Memory: Short term, long term, working, and nonexistent
Time Blindness, distortion
Emotional Mess: Rejection sensitive dysphoria, anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, despair, etc.
Knowing Things We Never Learned:
Nearly all of us must struggle diligently to acquire even modest talent in Mathematics, Music, and Art. We encounter genius as a rare group of people who display an amazing gift that seems to come to them easily compared to our sweaty, grinding, display. People with this kind of talent are sometimes called savants. Below them are random individuals of great talent and below them, the rest of us in a bell curve spread from mediocre to hopeless. Yet effortless, genius-level mastery of these areas appears to be latent in our brains, modularized in you and me, right now. How to back up such a claim? We learn much about ourselves through the exceptions of pathology and extreme variation. A break in the pattern reveals the pattern.
There are three kinds of savants that reveal these “genius modules”. Continue reading
I began meditating a few months back and it feels very positive, even transformative. That feeling is backed up empirically.
There are a number of interesting published studies on the effects of meditation but these two are amazing! Both have high strength of evidence. The titles below link to the full articles. Here’s the nutshell summary:
- Long term meditation alters brain anatomy in positive ways, such as larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter
- Meditation and yoga can rewrite our DNA and alter the gene expression of enduring trauma and stress correlates
“The Brain tunes itself to criticality, maximizing information processing”
Our brains are clearly amazing at processing the “blooming, buzzing1” world around us. A recent experiment supports the theory that when neurons work together they actively cooperate to achieve their maximum processing capacity. They seek the urgent, intense edge of their ability. Picture them as the human runners in an Amazon “fulfillment center” except happy in their work.
The entire brain appears to seek this set point or default working state at the maximum of its abilities: “Where it is as excitable as it can be, without tipping into disorder, similar to a phase transition.” A phase transition is where matter transitions from one state, liquid, solid, or gaseous, to a different state.
In other words, our brains are balanced about one millimeter from chaos and disorder. That’s all of us, all the time. Returning from sleep or other off duty moments the brain tunes and retunes itself seeking this point.
While the study neither reveals nor claims anything else about our neurology, I think it points a bright red arrow at possible organic causes of ADHD (as well as ASD, schizophrenia, etc). If the default human phenome, the standard, mass-produced person has this edge-of-chaos set-point, then genetic variation (known to be the prime cause of ADHD) could easily generate a different set point. This variation might generate the quirky, out of step processing that makes us so valuable in the modern workforce, wait, strike that…
It also seems logical that anything that alters this point results in behavioral instability.
More and other interesting details in the reports:
1 William James, writing about sensory processing. : “The baby, assailèd by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails at once, feels it all as one great blooming, buzzing confusion; “
I pray this is the beginning of reducing anxiety for real. Imagine the liberated potential and freedom from fear.
Study of nonhuman primates lays the groundwork for new strategies in treating anxiety
Boosting a single molecule in the brain can change ‘dispositional anxiety,’ the tendency to perceive
many situations as threatening, in nonhuman primates, researchers have found. The molecule,
neurotrophin-3, stimulates neurons to grow and make new connections.
in European countries per 100.000 inhabitants (2016). (Phone users the info-graphic is at the bottom, in case it’s hard to see on your phone, the male numbers are to the left and females on the right.) I knew male suicide rates were higher but I had no idea the difference was this stark. The male suicide rate is at least double and often triple the female rate. In Russia, it’s 6X higher! We live in an absurd time where every opinion that could POSSIBLY have a political ax to grind is assumed to have one.
I want to turn that assumption around and ask questions:
- Why do I feel vaguely self-conscious and a need to clarify my motives when posting this? Is showing concern specifically for men seen as rejecting concerns about women? Has discussion of male-female issues grown to resemble the charged atmosphere surrounding discussion of Israel? I refer to the fear of being called anti-semitic that comes with any criticism of Israeli policy or show of concern for Palestinians. If so, how have relations between the sexes sunk low enough to mirror the most vicious and entrenched argument in the world?
- In general, why isn’t the cause of this situation (male suicide numbers) a bigger, more pressing public health question? If the numbers were reversed do you think would there be a higher level of concern and more discussion about what is happening to girls and women?
But outside of politics or any kind of moralizing, just pondering the composition of the human race, I think one of the most revealing questions we could ask to understand our species is simply:
Why is this so?
Where does this technique reside within this one spider? Where does it reside within the species?
What triggers the processing of this knowledge?
How does the spider understand (or at least experience) the need and the solution?
How does the spider brain process this knowledge without a sort of visualizing?
If spiders can visualize physics concepts
and the parts they’ll need… and collect them…
and assemble them properly…
How should we visualize the minds of spiders?
A dye that glows brighter in the presence of calcium ions is loaded into the neurons. Neurotransmitters released by an upstream neuron in a network lead to rapid calcium influx in downstream neurons, seen here as a sudden burst of green. The influx triggers an electrochemical propagation of a signal down the length of the neuron, called the axon, and causes the subsequent release of more neurotransmitters, which signals the next neurons in the same network to fire.
Winners interpret good luck as merit-based, even when the rules overtly favor them and no skill is involved.
When I notice evidence-based research relating to my articles I am adding them.
“At the end of their game, people were asked if it had been fair. Regardless of the conditions, winners were more likely to say yes than losers. Even when the winners benefited from receiving either one or two strong cards from their opponent, they were twice as likely to judge it a fair game as the losers. What’s more, in most versions of the game winners were more likely than losers to attribute success in the game to talent – even though the game required very little.”
Growing disparities of income and wealth have prompted extensive survey research to measure the effects on public beliefs about the causes and fairness of economic inequality. However, observational data confound responses to unequal outcomes with highly correlated inequality of opportunity. This study uses a novel experiment to disentangle the effects of unequal outcomes and unequal opportunities on cognitive, normative, and affective responses. Participants were randomly assigned to positions with unequal opportunities for success. Results showed that both winners and losers were less likely to view the outcomes as fair or attributable to skill as the level of redistribution increased, but this effect of redistribution was stronger for winners. Moreover, winners were generally more likely to believe that the game was fair, even when the playing field was most heavily tilted in their favor. In short, it’s not just how the game is played, it’s also whether you win or lose.