By Debra Hosseini
“Have you had a brain injury?” the neuroscientist asks me after performing an EEG.
“No,” I say.
She points to diagrams of my brain with the different colors which measure delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves.
“You have an autistic brain.”
“You see this?”
I look at the four pictures which are labeled Z Scored FFT Coherence.
It looks like a platter of tangled red spaghetti on all four pictures.
“You have hyper-coherence. Whether your eyes or closed or open your brain waves look the same.”
“Well, I guess that explains Kevin,” I say. Kevin is my Autistic son.
“I can help that with neurofeedback,” she says.
She places another cap on my head which has lots of wires. She puts some sticky goo in my hair and hooks the wires to a machine which is attached to a computer. She inserts the movie “Pretty Woman” in the DVD drive.
I’m to control the brightness of the screen with my brain. This is called brain training.
“You’re doing really well on this,” she says. I’m motivated to make Richard Gere brighten up so I try extra hard.
After the session she takes off the cap and my hair is plastered to my head with the sticky goop.
“I hope you aren’t going anywhere,” she says.
At home, after I wash my hair I call up my best friend and tell her about my brain training session.
“What’s wrong with having an autistic brain?” she asks. She like me has a child on the spectrum.
That makes me ponder.
“I don’t know,” I say.
I wonder how my hyper-coherent brain effects me.
When I google hyper-coherence I find Tourette’s and OCD are symptoms. I know I can get stuck on a thought. Kevin does this too. And so does Kurt my Aspie boyfriend. Stuttering is also a sign of hyper-coherence. I never stuttered but have difficulty with word retrieval sometimes.
“A lot of programmers have hyper-coherence,” Ben, my friend Nancy’s son, says. Ben is Aspie and probably hyper-coherent too.
My past occupation was as a computer programmer and systems analyst.
I continue the biofeedback sessions for six more times and get another EEG. Guess what? I’m no longer hyper-coherent.
Do I feel any different?
I feel my brain is a little sharper now. And I’m a little more relaxed.
“I’d like to do an EEG on Kurt’s brain,” the neuroscientist says.
“Kurt has Weitzulsucht,” I tell her.
“It’s a disorder that causes incontinent punning. Oliver Sacks talks about it. He can’t control himself. It’s from a frontal brain injury when he fell into the diaper pail as a baby,” I continue.
“Well, I bet his brain EEG would be really interesting,” she says.
Yea, that’ll be another story.
So I’m writing this for the Autism Positivity Day Flash Blog. As I reread it I don’t know if it’s positive. I know that Kevin, my Autistic son, Kurt my Aspie boyfriend and myself all fall somewhere on the spectrum and I feel pretty positive about that. I do know I like to be around autistic people. They have no artifice, make good friends, and are empathetic (unlike what most people seem to think).
Freud once said that nobody is “normal,” and that to me is a good thing. It’s the people who pretend to be normal who may have the real issues.