A Year Ago at Shift Journal

Nut grafs or otherwise relevant excerpts from entries which appeared last year at this time.


•  Estrogen, Puberty and Autism

In other words, the Simon Baron-Cohen research regarding mother testosterone levels and autism may be related to mother estrogen levels.  If low estrogen at puberty translates to delayed puberty, delayed testosterone surges and increased brain growth, then the same process may be engaged during the first testosterone surges that compel a diminution of the right cerebral hemisphere during infancy.  Low estrogen levels as an embryo, infant and toddler may have a direct impact on cerebral lateralization and synapse production.

Noting the thesis outlined in detail in the “Introduction,” we can see that a mother with high testosterone (T) births sons with low testosterone (t) and daughters with high T.  Low t moms birth high T sons and low t daughters.

I’ve hypothesized a similar dynamic for estrogen.  Mom E = son e and daughter E.  Mom e = son E and daughter e.

Regarding our applying tentative puberty dynamics to early childhood synapse pruning and equating puberty with infant testosterone surges, the proper diet for the son or daughter for a mom TE would be low fat if you did not want to encourage pruning, high fat if you did.  Would a high-fat infant diet for a mom with TE encourage the child to be less likely autistic?  Or, if the male child is predisposed toward having two hemispheres the same size with a predilection toward autism (because he is the son of a TE mother), will the high-fat diet, propelling an earlier and/or greater testosterone surge, result in an increased likelihood of autism?

I emailed Simon Baron-Cohen my questions regarding the possible effect of estrogen upon autism. He responded, “i’ll discuss them with my colleagues.” Perhaps testosterone and estrogen combined explain some forms of autism.

•  Social Media and Environmental Integration

Much like Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, we are experiencing a species transformation.  Having struggled with our ability to manufacture metaphor and story for hundreds of generations, we are finally coming to a place where we’ve developed technology that can provide massive amounts of high quality information so that the metaphors and stories we create can approximate the world we are surrounded by, instead of the internal world we’ve been wrestling with to understand.

This requires an integration of our conscious and unconscious selves.  Watch for a surge in reverence for associational consciousness.  Listen for evidence of dreams in the everyday.  Feel for opportunities for information to be communicated by touch.

•  Autism, Mysticism, and the Natural Self

If our early ancestors communicated through dancing, and if autistic people have their genetics, it is probable that these ancestors did a lot of twirling in their dances.  From what I read on autistics, one activity they do is to spin around and around.  I also enjoyed spinning around and around when I was young.  The social worker told my mother that I would be disoriented, but I was sensible enough to hold on to the couch, switching hands one to the other as I spun around.  I also know the Sufi mystics spin around and around as a way of getting in touch with the divine.

However, the main reason why I thought a few years ago that autism could have something to do with our natural primitive state was comparing Temple Grandin’s descriptions of her senses with that of U. G. Krishnamurti.  Temple Grandin is an animal trainer who says that autism is a kind of default mode the way animal’s function, without a coordinator to regulate activity.  U. G. Krishnamurti was a sage who died recently. He claimed he was freed from “the stranglehold of thought.”

•  Autism and the Hacker Manifesto

I’m seemingly deep into the weeds for a neurodiversity blog, I know, talking inside baseball about phone companies, but autism has a lot of boots on the ground here.  Tech is a front where battles are being fought and won in this war, and there are lessons to be learned.  Before and after turning to the Hacker Manifesto, I invite you to read Segan’s article substituting the word “hacker” for his word “geek,” and then read those passages again from a wider frame of reference, substituting “autistic” instead, open to the possibility that “experimentation, originality, and the unexpected” may be exactly what autism brings to the table.  That last substitution will likely take some imagination; you’ll need to swap “wireless carriers” for “society” as well—but the results will mirror and illuminate the way the larger world is currently structured to the disadvantage of autistics, with the takeaway being that society is terrified of the disruption it fears would come of treating “autistic” as a legitimate way to be in the world.

on 01/17/11 in Art/Play/Myth, featured | No Comments | Read More

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