Saturday, May 02, 2009

Clinic Notes: The Music of the Spheres and ABA

In normally functioning brains, neurons fire in rhythm. However, in brains which are impaired by various disorders like schizophrenia or autism, the neurons oscillation frequencies are not tuned correctly and fire out of rhythm like band instruments each playing a different song. This behavior of neurons in the brain reminds me of the ancient Pythagoraian concept of universal music or music of the spheres where the sun, the moon, and the planets move in harmony--not an audible harmony, but a geometrical mathematical harmony that prevents chaos. Likewise the neurons in the brain must fire in a normal rhythm in order to process sensory information, thoughts and feelings, and implement speech and movement. In autism, it is obvious that at least parts of the brain are not working right and seem to have different rhythms. Although I have not done any empirical research and know of no studies, in my clinic the pacing or the rhythm of how we do ABA makes a difference in how kids progress. The frequency of breaks, the intensity of the drills makes big difference in the effectiveness of ABA. It's like a dance that must be learned between therapist and child. Perhaps a dance out of autism.

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