Never underestimate the power of the human brain because it will astound and confound you. I just saw a repeat episode of 60 minutes which focused on the life and work of Apple co-founder Steven Jobs. But it was the story after the interview with Jobs that peaked my interest because it showed that one of Apple’s signature devices, the I-pad, had helped people living on the autism scale gain a sense of independence that many would have never imagined for them.
There was a picture of a brain of a Temple Grandin, a woman who is on the autism spectrum compared with someone who was not on the spectrum and the difference was impressive. Temple is a very intelligent woman with many accomplishments in spite of the picture her brain presents. The 60 Minutes story included a young man who is able to communicate his wants and desires successfully. There were other young people whose vocabularies were hidden behind a wall of non-speech who were now finding their voices.
The diagnosis still remains but because we keep looking for answers, it no longer limits people on the spectrum the way that it used to. I’m encouraged and optimistic. I have a nephew on the spectrum and I liked the struggle with this order to the fight that people have with mental illness. The diagnosis of schizophrenia or other disorders can present challenges but it should never tell us to abandon all hope. Not as long as our brains are active.
The story interested me on a personal level because my nephew has a son who is on the autism spectrum. I sent a note to my sister, his mother, to ask whether my nephew has an I-Pad. I can remember reading about something called facilitated communication used to help break through barriers. But nothing spoke about the possibility of using computers. I am hoping that by republishing this blog entry I will hear stories from people about I-pads and other technologies being used to assist people overcome their challenges.