The ballroom

There are things the ears pick up which the eyes don’t. Agha Shahid Ali

As a man with nonverbal learning disorder and most likely Asberger (AS) I can be a bit quirky. I say most likely because I havent’ been formally diagnosned with AS. A psychologist who tested me five years ago said I had many of the traits, but not enough. He did “checklist diagnosing”. One of the things he expected to find, if I had AS, was that I had one interest I was very knowledegable about, and that I talked about it constantly, whether people wanted to hear it or not. I do have the tendency to focus on a narrow field, but I don’t talk much, so in his opinion it couldn’t be Asberger.

I was recently evaluated by a specialist in psychiatry. He read all the other tests I have done and the reports from other psychologists, and after talking to me, he supported the diagnose of NLD. He also added that I most likely had Asberger as well. This wasn’t a formal Asberger interview and that’s why he didn’t give me a formal diagnose.

I have stated many times before that I enjoy reading, but I have problems with it. I am a really slow reader and it’s frequently hard to understand what I read. So I may have to read something over and over again to get the message. This article from The Guardian is a good example of that. I was fascinated by the novelist Kamila Shamsie who prints out every chapter and reads it out loud. I have always worked that way too. It’s like my brain is a ballroom where the two partners Writing and Speeking produce a beautiful language together. This dance is an instinct to me. I’ve had a lot of frustration over the years trying to learn grammar and composition. It didn’t work, so I mostly write what sounds correct.

Something seems to change when I read out loud, especially when I proofread my own texts. For some reason I can’t grasp my own words unless I hear myself articulate them. It turns out there is some science that explains this. There is a research team that explores how talking and writing is separated in the brain. I suppose that means that you can damage the part of  your brain that deals with speech, while the brain’s ability to produce written language may still be intact. I guess the conclusion is that written and spoken language are two different systems that interact. They are dancing.

I have rediscovered some old posts this week. Someone read a post on my Norwegian blog yesterday, one I wrote in February last year. It’s about what we define as irrational or crazy, and I mentioned research by Lisa Bortolli at Birmingham University. She thinks that people with schizophrenia, depression and autism are, in some contexts, more rational than people without a diagnosis. That’s an interesting idea and maybe not surprising, but the brain is nevertheless an impressive machine.

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