Neurodiversity and Speech

bridgeA conundrum frequently reveals itself during my observations of left-handed people. An answer to this riddle seems to be connected to an understanding of how bridges, brain bridges, are made.

Lefties are often the most articulate folks I know. Many creative people, folks that drift toward the left end of this arc of maturational delay, are unusually articulate. These are the older-genotype, matrifocal-social-structure naturals, who are high testosterone females and low testosterone males. Obama and three of our last four presidents were left-handed. Bush W. is right handed. Articulateness seems to often accompany the left-handed.

There are major exceptions.

There are those that are left-handed because of trauma to the left hemisphere, which controls the right side of the body. I don’t know the studies that estimate the percentage of trauma-induced lefties, but a marker is if a left-handed person has no left-handers in the family, and another one is if the right hand is extremely nondextrous, in which case the likelihood increases. These folks don’t normally exhibit the skill/talent structures of the maturational delayed, which can include unusual verbal facility.

Then, there are those that are autistic.

The male autistic is extremely maturational delayed, often left-handed, sometimes even ambidextrous and often find themselves speech-challenged. I observe an arc of maturational delay that is also an evolutionary timeline representing tens of thousands of years of recent human evolution. It is interesting to me that at the point we began to bridge gesture to speech, there are those who had difficulty making the transition (today’s autistics) and those who made it through (today’s articulate left-handers), who have unusual facility with language. Then, it seems, that second brain type–today’s brain–achieved a more highly desired status and right-handers proliferated. The brain of today became engaged. It has the right hemisphere slightly smaller than the left and the corpus callosum or brain bridge turned from a highway to a footpath. Eloquence diminished.

The conundrum comes when noting how close in proximity in evolutionary time that the articulate and the autistic are. These two close brothers, perhaps separated by only several dozen generations, are parted by totally different paradigms of speech.

It seems to me that the left-handers’ brain provides for greater left hemisphere/right hemisphere integration and an increased opportunity for unconscious material to emerge. Hence, the creativity. Hence, the relatively effortless emergence of words and concepts, with greater access to nonconscious material located in the alternative (nonspeech specializing) hemisphere.

Imagine the same brain except with bigger bridges from one hemisphere to the next. Whereas before the increased integration informed an increased ability to express, in the autistic brain there is too much integration and words can’t line up in the necessary rows to cross the bridge and make a clear narrative communication. Consciousness can’t quite differentiate.

Severe epileptics have been treated by severing the corpus callosum, thus preventing debilitating, uncontrollable information cascades from coursing back and forth across the tissue bridge. I suspect that one way to provide autistics a tool that would simulate a contemporary brain would be to create a toll booth on their highway corpus callosum bridge, slow down traffic and maybe gather some of the currency that comes with having a special brain.

Autism is not a disease or a disorder. It is a condition that represents an opportunity to discover who we, as a species, really are. Apprehending autism is to penetrate our origins. Grasping these roots requires our bridging ourselves to a world with few words can be saying more than many, and understanding what these few words mean.

Proceed to author’s FREE book download on this subject (The book is called Evolution, Autism and Social Change). 10 minute introductory video here.

on 11/9/09 in featured, Language | 4 Comments | Read More

Comments (4)


  1. Tetsuya Sellers says:

    What is the difference between left-handed articulates (Obama) and right handed people, or between the right-handed people and left-handed autistics?

  2. Marian Annett has written about handedness differences hypothesizing random handedness being what an older genotype retains, the left handers, ambidextrous and a small percentage of right handers, maybe 9% of the population (18.5% in total for all three).

    Left-handed articulates are perhaps the poets, those deft with words with ability to access their unconscious.

    Autistics are those older genotypes, right handed people the new genotype.

  3. Tetsuya Sellers says:

    So, as I understand it, the autistic pre-verbal people are the oldest, very matrifical. The left-handed articulates (Obama) are transitional and still matrifical. The right-handed people (Gengous Khan, let’s say) are the modern, patrifical, rright-handed form. Would these right-handed people be articulate, inarticulate? If these right-handers are inarticulate (like George Bush, I would assume a high-T, inarticulate, right-handed Republican) how does that differ from pre-articulate? Also, can you explain Temple Grandin’s statement from Chapter one of Thinking in Pictures?
    Develop Talents in Specialized Brains
    When I wrote Thinking in Pictures I thought most people on the autism spectrum were visual thinkers like me. After talking to hundreds of families and individuals
    with autism or Asperger’s, I have observed that there are actually different types of specialized brains. All people on the spectrum think in details,
    but there are three basic categories of specialized brains. Some individuals may be combinations of these categories.
    list of 3 items
    1. Visual thinkers, like me, think in photographically specific images. There are degrees of specificity of visual thinking. I can test run a machine in
    my head with full motion. Interviews with nonautistic visual thinkers indicated that they can only visualize still images. These images may range in specificity
    from images of specific places to more vague conceptual images. Learning algebra was impossible and a foreign language was difficult. Highly specific visual
    thinkers should skip algebra and study more visual forms of math such as trigonometry or geometry. Children who are visual thinkers will often be good
    at drawing, other arts, and building things with building toys such as Lego’s. Many children who are visual thinkers like maps, flags, and photographs.
    Visual thinkers are well suited to jobs in drafting, graphic design, training animals, auto mechanics, jewelry making, construction, and factory automation.

    2. Music and math thinkers think in patterns. These people often excel at math, chess, and computer programming. Some of these individuals have explained
    to me that they see patterns and relationships between patterns and numbers instead of photographic images. As children they may play music by ear and
    be interested in music. Music and math minds often have careers in computer programming, chemistry, statistics, engineering, music, and physics. Written
    language is not required for pattern thinking. The pre-literate Incas used complex bundles of knotted cords to keep track of taxes, labor, and trading
    among a thousand people.

    3. Verbal logic thinkers think in word details. They often love history, foreign languages, weather statistics, and stock market reports. As children they
    often have a vast knowledge of sports scores. They are not visual thinkers and they are often poor at drawing. Children with speech delays are more likely
    to become visual or music and math thinkers. Many of these individuals had no speech delays, and they became word specialists. These individuals have found
    successful careers in language translation, journalism, accounting, speech therapy, special education, library work, or financial analysis.
    list end

    (the last lines)
    To help understand the autistic
    brain I recommend that teachers and parents should play with an Internet search engine such as Google for images. It will give people who are more verbal
    thinkers an understanding into how visual associative thinking works. People with music and math minds have a search engine that finds associations between
    patterns and numbers.

    The Asperger individual who is a verbal logic thinker uses verbal categories. For example, Dr. Minshew had an Asperger patient who had a bad side effect
    with a medication. Explaining the science of why he should try a different medication was useless. However, he became willing to try a new medication after
    he was simply told, the pink pills made you sick and I want you to try the blue pills. He agreed to try the blue pills.

    The more I learn, the more I realize more and more that how I think and feel is different. My thinking is different from a normal person, but it is also
    very different from the verbal logic nonvisual person with Asperger’s. They create word categories instead of picture categories. The one common denominator
    of all autistic and Asperger thinking is that details are associated into categories to form a concept. Details are assembled into concepts like putting
    a jigsaw puzzle together. The picture on the puzzle can be seen when only 20 percent of the puzzle is put together, forming a big picture.

    interesting and curious subject.

  4. Fascinating observations, Tetsuya. I need to mull over what you’re saying. Thank you! -Andrew

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