How much do we assume because of appearances?
A stroke patient may not be speaking. Is the mind empty?
An autistic person may not be speaking and does odd things. Is the mind empty?
A person with locked-in syndrome can’t move. Is the mind empty?
Who gets to decide if a person who is locked internally is thinking or not? Is it the geniuses at ASHA or the Lovaas Institute or in the university or clinics? How can a trapped mind communicate intelligence if the presumption is that the intelligence is compromised?
And what about the “brain dead” in vegetative states? Now new evidence indicates that 1 in 10 have consciousness. It’s my opinion that the brain is vast and its thoughts unknowable by mere external observation.
Not talking is not the same as not thinking.
I have been listening a lot to Beethoven recently. My passion for different composers goes through phases. I have had a Bach phase, a Gershwin phase, a Prokofiev phase. I love their distinct styles and utter genius and originality. Each one was a profoundly transformative composer who also created incredibly poignant and beautiful music. Because I have synesthesia, I hear and see my music. To be honest, some music is visually beautiful and some is harsh and hideous to me. Beethoven has music that is like a visual poem. His melodies are like flowing waves of lights when they come together perfectly.
Neurologists might want to ponder the mystery of Beethoven a bit. For a huge portion of his composing career he was either losing his hearing or was totally deaf. How did his brain do the things it did missing a sense- the essential sense it required? I have been learning a bit about art history recently too. Can you imagine a genius like Van Gogh painting blind, remembering how to paint somehow? My mind cannot comprehend how Beethoven wrote his music, orchestrated it, created mood, emotion and phrasing- and all without hearing it. Even an experienced chef likes to taste their food.
The human brain is a mystery. Beethoven wrote some of the most sublime music ever written and he did it as a non-hearing person. Generally that would end a musical career, but he had inner music. He remembered sounds from when he heard. Did he hear them in his head the way we do? Who knows? But we do know he was able to tap into this ability somehow.
I tend to turn subjects back to autism. We don’t understand the brain well. By any logic, a deaf man should not be considered one of the world’s greatest composers. But he is. So once again I caution experts to have a little humility and not presume to think they have a clue about how a nonspeaking autistic person perceives and understands. The brain has so many unknowns, and people who by logic shouldn’t have an ability may have it, and sometimes at a profound level. I shouldn’t be processing human speech, according to some. I shouldn’t be writing my thoughts. I shouldn’t even have thoughts. Well, I say, go listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and imagine writing it deaf and try to be a little humble about the brain’s unknown capacities.
I am an autistic guy with a message. I spent the first half of my life completely trapped in silence. The second – on becoming a free soul. I had to fight to get an education but I succeeded, graduating high school with a diploma and a 3.9 GPA. I am continuing my education in college. I communicate by typing on an iPad or a letter board. My first book, Ido inAutismland is an autism diary, telling the story of my symptoms, education, and journey into communication. My second book, In Two Worlds, is a novel. I hope through my work to help other autistic people find a way out of their silence too.
My newest book is now available in paperback, on Kindle, and on Smashwords!