Excelling at Sports for children is an effort of co-ordination and team work. First of all co-ordination takes practice and practice for typical children often begin at an earlier age then those with autism. Team work is a component of communication. Parents of a child that have been diagnosed with autism are often mesmerized in their thinking process which mostly leads the parent to over helping the child to the point that the child does not learn to do for themselves or in some cases not knowing how to assist a child in learning as they had expected to do in the course of raising a typical child if there is such a typical child in the first place.
Under-helping children can have varied results, leading to a child that does everything capable for themselves to sometimes frustrating a child. And well, typical children are treated most often with greater expectations of typical outcomes with the effort of their parent’s teachings and of course others along the way giving instruction. Sometimes and even more often than not the expectations that parents have of the child who has autism, in the earliest part of development, the expectation can be less, and therefore the parent expects less and brings less information to the tables of their autistic children than they normally might otherwise.
Also, children with autism may process at different rates than children without autism, or even in a different way that seems to take longer perhaps. These time differences in learning are unclear as to the child’s capability because of the nature of the earliest: contact, education, understanding of care and interaction, and /or instruction of a child with autism. It may be that the child has not had enough practice with small motor skills or even large motor skills to reach that total co-ordination point. The total co-ordination point meaning their “Automatic Network”, referenced in the earlier article.
What is most interesting about the article is the discovery of the “brain’s activity increase in the primary sensorimotor cortex, thalamus, cerebellum and supplementary motor area (SMA) in both groups of children”. Although it is not clearly stated in this article what the supplementary motor area is, where it’s located, and what difference the increased automatic network has on it in effect exactly. Though the fact that there is an increase in these stated areas only means that there is improved connectivity in the brain and to increase that connectivity with more practice to relatively average levels of connectivity would seem vary beneficial to all children and the study concludes that it is a possibility / even if the child with autism takes a little more time in getting there…
This article did not take into account that some children, whether they have autism or do not have autism, have varied differences in the way they learn and process. There are children in the world that do not begin to make attempts at using there skills until they have first intellectually digested more information than others before they begin the practice of the activity. I have not seen many children like this but some.
Many instructors do not understand this process because often that is not the way they might have learned. Often this misunderstanding by instructors leads to labeling the child with a learning disability or even further titling them as low-functioning or high-functioning which then further reinforces our own thoughts as doctors, research scientist, and educators, that a child is absolutely just that, low-functioning or high-functioning, rather than understanding their process and the difference in individual learning. This reinforced verbal course then sets the mind into revoking the process that we might provide without the label. The label then can be a set back internally to that child and the professional or parent, emotionally inhibiting the natural process of that child’s ability to learn.
Certainly we begin to understand a child’s differences as we work with that child, and it certainly is helpful to know of visual impairments and hearing loss and perhaps unusual abilities and differences. But we must be very careful in the labeling and the reinforcement that the labeling might carry to all individuals. Automating patterns of motor circuitry is a pure outcome of function of repetition in the thinking process and the practice of that process, which concludes that there is a connective brain activity included in that and is one of the greatest outcomes of this study.
One area that is not covered in the research is the interest levels of the children to that activity or a sport? This is something that must be considered when creating such studies. Though, let’s get back to the automated pattern. The question is, how is that done? And how do scientists make these connections to what their research uncovers and how is it then applied by scientist without outside sets of knowledge from good instructors who might have more complete knowledge of the learning role and then of course others professionals that cross over into the many areas that these sciences cover? And we go back to how that is done?
Well, research has already told us that the practice of musical instruments increases automated patterns in the brain. It shows up in higher aptitude for mathematics, but it also increases automated motor repetition with small motor skills as there are also many activities to assist and enhance small motor skills. Large motor ability is achieved of course by larger motor activity. Kick ball, track and field, walking in the park, jumping, dance, actions in a gymnasium, swimming,… Are these areas being conclusively studied when we make attempts to discuss whether the brain has the ability to conduct automated responses when given ample opportunity to first: have enough time to individually learn and then practice those responses?
The most interesting part of the article is that there seems to be information about the way in which an autistic child hears as it would be related to tapping the fingers. If the activity of say drawing was used instead of tapping the fingers as tapping the fingers is often related to music rhythm, then are there differences in the way an autistic child might be hearing as we might first ask if the children can use their, studied areas or practice, to doodle the same image over and over and make sure the original study results in the same? Or is it just a function resulting from interaction, influence and studied practice? In further study of the actual components of the activity, we might uncover the area of which could be the main obstacle for children with autism and then more completely understand how to better instruct children with autism as well as children without autism.
My last interest is in the hypothalamus gland which I’ve read has some correlation to depression if injured. Although I’m not an expert in this area, my question to neuroscientists is, if these automated patterns show more brain connectivity, what happens when someone has increased automated activity then some how loses that or decreases the activity: could this cause the opposite to happen and then cause depression? That is, I guess, my question of the day. And to conclude my commentary, The Dana Foundation and its contributors make wonderful discoveries. I’d like to add, with more contribution to the neuroscience research through other areas like arts and teaching, one day the field of neurosciences could become a completed area of research, though with all the variables, it will be some book….