Last night I attended Brain Health / Body Wealth at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Alvaro Pascual Leone told a rapt audience about new discoveries in brain plasticity and what it may mean to us, especially as we age. Then Dr. Dan Press talked about practical neurology, and what's on the immediate horizon for conditions like Alzheimer's.
After they spoke Paul Levy came to the podium. He's the head of the Beth Israel hospital, and he spoke of the need for more funding to support the cutting edge research that doctors like Alvaro and Dan are pursuing. To my surprise, the event finished with this video of me:
I knew they were going to show it, but I'd never seen the thing projected on a big screen and I almost felt embarrassed being up there like that. But I believe in all I said, and I believe most of all in the promise of the work Alvaro and his team is doing at Beth Israel neuroscience.
There's a lot of talk about genetics in the autism world. And genetic research may lead to discoveries that help my grandchildren. However, genetics study is not likely to help you, me, or our kids, friends and family. Research like Alvaro's - using TMS to remediate disability in people like me - has tremendous promise for all of us, in the very near future.
Looking at that video, I was really struck by how far I've come in the past two years. If you watched that earlier video of me, watch this one now, from two summers past. Look at the differences in me. In this earlier video, I am robotic and mechanical. My voice is different. I am stiff and rigid. It's almost a different person.
Compare the animation in my face, my hands, the range and prosody of my voice . . .
TMS has played a big role in the transformation you see between those two films. If we could do what's been done for me for anyone else who asked for help on the spectrum . . . it would be a parent or clinician's dream come true. And I believe we will. But not quite today. We are so close, yet also so far . . .
People write me and ask, "How can I sign my child up for this?" I am always sorry to say that clinical trials are still some years in the future, even though you can join our scientific studies now. If you'd like to talk about joining a study you can write Lindsay Oberman, Phd at email@example.com
Do join us; but keep in mind that we are engaged in scientific discovery. It's too early to promise or even expect any specific result. We're still experimenting - stimulating different area of the brain to see which ones are involved in what I call emotional intelligence. There's no way to find that out, other than by doing experiments with autistic people like me. Or you - if you join me.
If you join us, the experiments may change you, or they may not. The scientists can't make any promises. Not yet. We certainly can't set false expectations, yet what I have seen gives me great hope. I know what's in there now. Whatever happens, we are advancing science and we are on the fast track to solving this particular set of problems.