“One of the problems in understanding sensory issues is that sensory sensitivities are very variable, among individuals and within the same individual”, Temple Grandin
I have recently heard interviews on NPR with Dr.Temple Grandin, one of the leading experts in autism. Unfortunately I don’t have HBO so did not watch the movie of her life on February 6th. I have though read The Way I See It and been impressed with her theoretical analysis of Autism, which she says has many of the same characteristics as ADHD and even Dyslexia and other learning disabilities. I am astounded by the many similarities between Autism and Fibromyalgia. There appear to be so many: difficulty with sensory overload, fear as the main emotion, problems with information processing (what we with Fibromyalgia call ‘brain fog’), sensory over-stimulation, problems with too much noise, some sounds, smells and textures can bring about anxiety or even panic attacks…the list seems endless. I have taken the liberty of using some of the exact words of Dr Grandin as they reflect the kinds of words I would use (and have) to describe Fibromyalgia. It is her view that there is a deficit in brain wiring in Autism. It is highly likely that this is the cause of Fibromyalgia as well. She speaks frequently of an over aroused nervous system, as do most researchers nowadays when describing Fibromyalgia.
However, I want to be very clear about this: I AM NOT SAYING THAT FIBROMYALGIA IS A FORM OF AUTISM, BUT I BELIEVE THE EXTREME OPPOSITE, IN SPITE OF MY VIEW THAT BOTH ARE THE RESULT OF BRAIN WIRING DEFICITS AND SHARE MANY OF THE SAME CHARACTERISTICS THAT CAUSE PROBLEMS . Dr. Grandin describes social behaviour problems in Autism as the inability to know what people are thinking, while those of us with Fibromyalgia have an exaggerated form of empathy and are highly sensitive to nuances, body language and other social cues.From my perspective, the current research on changing the brain will benefit all of us suffering from deficits in brain wiring (either physically as we do in Fibromyalgia, or socially as do those with Autism). Not everyone with Autism and/or with Fibromyalgia share the exact same characteristics, as life circumstances, personalities, gender, geography, social class, culture, race, sexual orientation are so very variable, but enough of us struggle with many of the same challenges, so much so that it is interesting to speculate about our commonalities. I expect many will disagree with the ideas I put forth here as I have absolutely no proof about any of this, nor am I at all clear myself, but the issues are certainly provocative.
I recently met and became friendly with a woman many years my junior who has Multiple Sclerosis. This highly intelligent woman told me her theory on MS. She said she thought it was due to brain wiring deficit. Phew! I asked her if she knew of neuroplasticity. She had not but she described it perfectly as she thought through the ideas about brain rewiring. More food for thought! Too far fetched?