Friday, July 10, 2015

Brain-Body Disconnect and How to Help

Mrs. H. writes: 

Philip, I have an autistic daughter who is now eleven years old.  I know she is intelligent because sometimes she says profound things, but she also does things sometimes which are not smart and are actually quite dangerous though we have been teaching her not to all her life, such as picking up a strangers food or drink and eating or drinking it, running away from us in a crowded place, or running into the street.  She also is very rough with our pets and small children.  I wondered if you had any insight as to why she does these things and how we can understand her and help her understand us when we try to teach her what is safe and not safe for her and others.

To Mrs. H, I also have this happen to me. I am a thinker. My care is for autistic people and making a better world for us. I can relate to your daughter.  I am attracted to certain things like leaves and flowers. I am drawn to their beauty. Part of me wants to be kind to nature but my impulsive mind wants to pick the flowers and twirl them in my hands. I can't seem to stop myself.  I see the flowers and I know I shouldn't pick them but my hands have a mind of their own. I feel badly. My mom has to remind me over and over not to pick the flowers. I can attack my impulse when someone can stop me with a word.  But a mean tone makes me want to do it more. Mean manners toward me hurt my feelings.  My answer to the question of what helps is to maintain calm and stay on top of our whereabouts. I am lacking impulse control to make my body obey my brain. It is frustrating. I am like an amputee with phantom limbs.  I seem to have limbs but I can't feel mine.  I have to see them to know they are there. I can feel them better when I move. My body doesn't feel like it belongs to me but my mind is mine. I am making an effort to make my body more obedient by meaningful activities like chores and bike riding. No person should meaninglessly live life. They should find their talent and master it. My message to parents is give us opportunities to practice our movements in a purposeful way. Help us make plans to use lots of muscle memory by going to the trouble of teaching hobbies and useful skills. Please be patient with us. I am managing my body as best as I can. No one wants to be a nuisance.

Exploring Nature in the Dominican Republic

Copyright 2015 Philip Reyes.  All rights reserved.


  1. "No one wants to be a nuisance" - you just helped me with an issue we are having with our son today. Thank you so much.

  2. I love what Philip has to say--again! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Did you find any millipedes in the Dominican Republic? I liked this post. It feels horrible to lose control over your body.