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One on't cross beams gone out askew on't treadle

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:03pm
I expect there will be trouble at'mill by the time some folks have read and digested this post ..

One of my abilities is the ability to think in pictures though images is probably a better way to talk about it, as there is nothing particularly flat or two dimensional about this. I believe this allows me to easily create analogies and to be able to approach problems from different directions, that would never occur to someone who has to construct everything in words. Which part of the neurodiverse territories this comes from does not matter for the argument here. I want to give you a little example illustrating the fallacy of trying to find a medical cure for complex neurodevelopmental differences.

I don't suppose many of you have seen either a Stevengraph, or know the workings of Jacquard loom. A Stevengraph was an elaborate silk picture, woven on a Jacquard loom which uses punched card to determine how the threads are all woven together. To see one in action as I have at Coventry's museum in the past is quite amazing.

Anyway if we were to consider the Stevengraph as the brain, we could see that the punched cards are perhaps the DNA, and the mechanical maintenance of the machine, that keeps it oiled, the parts fitting together properly, and feeds in the different coloured silk could be seen as the epigenetic or environmental factors that also have to gel to create the flawless finished product.

Now imagine one of these wonderful artefacts gone awry, perhaps with rivers of red silk running through it, or sections of the picture missing. How can you fix it? If you unpick all the silk that ought not to be there, or attempt to patch in what was missing, you will not get the original intended picture back, it won't have the same structure, it won't be the same at all. And to try and go back one stage further and discover just where it went wrong, if it is in the punched cards for instance, to discover which particular extra holes, and which missing ones caused it all to go awry would be a nightmare.

Well a Stevengraph elaborate though it is, is a lot less complex than the brain. You can no more expect to unpick dyslexia, or autism, and get the whole picture back, than you can unpick the silk. There is no easy magic pill. You can't just oil the cranks and get it to run right, it's more than that.

That is why I do not believe in easy medical answers and quick fixes. The medic is akin to the mechanic, trying to keep the machine running, not the designer who punched all those holes.
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