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Friday, January 19, 2007

Slice and Dice

Some autistic children have problems with co-ordination. This brief post is my idiots guide to ‘mid-lines.’ There are many scholarly articles available and an OT can give you a much better explanation. For the rest of us, where speed reading the relevant chapter is the only way to survive, this is my synopsis.
Take one child. Place in a standing position under a guillotine and slice him down the middle so that you have a front slice and a back slice. The front slice doesn’t talk to the back slice, there is a communication problem, most likely bad wiring. Duct tape the child back together, return to the spot under the guillotine and turn him [it’s probably a him] 90 degrees and slice again. Now you have a right side and a left side with the same faulty wiring problem. Last time. Lie child on the ground, on something soft and slice him in half so that you have a top and a bottom. Same problem.

All these sectional pieces of child fail to communicate effectively with the other bits. Some or all of the pieces may be effected, because autism is a spectrum disorder. Is this your child, or you, come to think of it? Test the theory.
Take child’s favourite food. Place child in front of table with the favourite food in sight. If your child is right handed, place the food on the left. If the child reaches for the food with the left hand, [remember he’s right handed] this MAY mean that he doesn’t want to cross his mid-line, the right / left one. This in turn MAY mean that you might want to investigate a little further.

If you are female and wear a garment for your female appendages, does it do up at the back? If you buy one’s that do up at the front, maybe you have a front/back mid-line issue? Maybe you have short arms or fine motor troubles or arthritis? If you always put your shoes on without the use of your hands, prefer slip ons and avoid shoe laces and the like, maybe you have a top/bottom midline hic-cup, or lack flexibility, or have some deplorable foot fettish that we really don’t want to know about?

With a bit of luck, this mid-line business is completely irrelevant to you and yours. If on the other hand, you’re starting to get a bit worried, furrowed brow, brain working overtime trawling through your child’s life for ‘evidence,’ cease forthwith! Firstly, you need to check it out with a professional and save valuable worrying time for other things. Secondly, if there is an issue, like most things with autism, it isn’t fatal. You may not be able to ‘cure’ it, perish the thought, but there are lots of things that you can do to help reduce it. Being aware of the condition means that you are in a position to help. If your child remains in a diced condition up to and including adulthood, it isn’t the end of the world.

Lastly, I have one crumb of additional useless advice to offer. When you try and think of a visual or verbal prompt to assist your child, try and avoid 'left hand helps right hand!' uttered in a cheery tone, as I can tell you that after three and a half years of saying it, I wish I'd come up with something better. Any offers?


Anonymous said...

OK, so I'm directionally challenged, but don't you have to turn the kid *90* degrees (not 45) to go from the coronal plane to the sagittal plane?

The Jedi Family of Blogs said...

Interestingly, it was Brendan's mid-line issues (as in not wanting to cross it) that led to his Aspergers diagnosis. His visual/perceptual therapist discovered that he didn't like to cross midline, explained it to me, worked on it with him (I'm sure his school OT did, too) & gently suggested to me that he might have AS, which led to our seeking further testing for him. It's all so tangled-up, though. These days it's difficult to sort out whether he refuses to use his left hand due to midline issues, sensory issues, or OCD issues... but I'll tell you one thing, it does make me wonder if we should have requested that they "make" him left-handed when his OT explained that we'd have to help him choose a dominant hand (this was considered really important, as he hadn't done so by age 5). I'm a lefty & it made me a bit sad to train him to use his right. I guess we'll never know...

Maddy said...

Ooopsie! I'll correct the text but leave your comment. Cheers!

Haddayr said...

Here's an alternate phrase: "Oh, for god sakes Arie just use the other hand!"

See how that one works for you.

n. said...

once i got past the literal mental image, this was really interesting. will be investigating if my husband and i have midline issues. do all ambidextrous aspies have this ... aspect?

PS: word verification: "jorimwfo", riding a fine line between sonorous and expletivious.

Larry Arnold PhD FRSA said...

I am wierd. I (the side that is writing this) don't own my right side, something else does, not concsious me. I do not sence the right side of my body in the same way I do the left.

I was ambidextrous but forced to be right handed, in a body where my right eye doesn't work properly so somebody cocked up there.

Camera Obscura said...

Daughter, the only one of the three not showing signs of either Aspergers or full-blown autism, is semi-ambidextrious. You're making me wonder now if this isn't her own little tiny "autistic" gift. I always just thought it was because her dad is a lefty (as are his older two sisters, but not his twin sister) and I'm a righty, so I was always careful w/ all three kids to let them pick their own hand.

It was so fun when she started kindergarten, because of course the sheet comes home "Tell me about your child" asking things like personality traits, hobbies, family members living at home vs. not, and "Is your child right-handed or left-handed?"

With her autistic brother only 22 months older, scissors use at home was not encouraged before the kids went to school. So all I could write for an answer to that last question was: "She eats with her left hand and colors with her right. Sorry." She writes right-handed, too, but I'm still not certain which hand she uses scissors with. I do know it took her forever to learn to use the scissors-handled spaghetti tongs, and I think she went back-and-forth for a while on which hand worked better for a table knife.

kristina said...

This post makes me think of Plato---the Symposium---the comic writer Aristophanes describes an earlier race of human beings who had four limbs but who got sliced down the middle like an egg with a hair........ back to the topic, Charlie is oddly coordinated. Officially right-handed, but quite adroit with the left.

Laura said...

This is interesting because my husband and both of his parents are left-handed. I'm a righty, and Hutton seems to be right-handed, but it's hard to know if that was pushed on him at school and really his preferred hand. I always think of the phrase "left-handed genius." Don't know where it came from, but it fits my husband and his parents - if not geniuses, they're close. ;) Now I'll be watching the kids for these midline issues! I don't discuss it much with the OT, but have heard it mentioned before as something they're working on with Hutton.

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