I’m currently reading a book about autism which is written by the mother of a child who has autism. She mentioned all the research she has done to better understand the disorder. So of course in her studies she came across the famous H.M.
H.M. died this past Tuesday, December 2, 2008, at the age of 82. His real name was revealed after his death: Henry Gustav Molaison. A lot of what we now know about memory, we learned from studies on H.M. H.M. suffered from epilepsy and his entire life became a study; an experiment in real-time.
Epilepsy is something which many children with autism have been wrongly diagnosed with first. This is because the workings of the brain are very much a mystery even today with the advancements in modern medicine. In the book I’m reading the little boy had seizure after seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy but the epilepsy medicine wasn’t working and the neurologists (at first) were useless.
I am sure there are many connections and theories about how epilepsy and autism are related. How they can go hand in hand, but it is very clear that is a child has autism that treating just epilepsy will not help.
Experiments in the last century found that by breathing carbon dioxide (CO2), an epileptic patient boosted acid levels in the brain and could terminate a fit, although the molecular switch for achieving this was veiled in mystery. So if there is an oxygen overload of some kind could it cause neurological damage or just a moment of euphoria? I know there are places with actual oxygen bars where people go to purposefully inhale pure oxygen.
Further studies are in the works for finding the exact area of the brain which registers these balances and how to administer a drug which will stop the process and therefore stop a seizure. I wonder if this new research will also benefit people with autism. It will be interesting to see the correlations if there are any.