The Promise of a Better Tomorrow Starts Today
After losing her parents in a car crash, Anna is left to make her way in the often-confusing neurotypical world. She's sent to live in a group home with four other individuals with autism. Her life is pretty hum drum until one of her housemates, Daniel, who is also an artistic savant, goes missing. Up until then Anna has kept her late-night blogging secret, but her housemate's disappearance catapults her into a proactive role in his rescue and recovery. As the story unfolds, she and her brother Tom, who is in med school studying to be a neurosurgeon, delve into the mystery of what makes autistic minds operate atypically and how an artist without hands can continue to follow his passion. Their quest ultimately leads them to a post-pandemic world of BCI disability treatment that is currently well within our grasp, but as yet beyond the comprehension of most medical professionals and big pharma.
What sets this book apart:
There are many fiction books written about autism, co-authored by someone with autism. This is not one of them. It is the tale of a quest for a better way to live for every individual, whatever "label" they bear. This story is told entirely from Anna's point of view and provides real insight into what living with autism is like from the inside. It also presents the very real possibility of using new BCI and smart IVR technologies for neuro-remediation i.e. neurofeedback, neuro-stimulation and more.
I have BS degree from Cornell University. I have been working in the information publishing business for almost thirty years as a private label content provider. You view my work here: https://PLRContentSource.com
My experience with autism has been living with it for thirty-five years as Meaghan's mother. She lived at home, attending the Boston Higashi School, until she turned twenty-one. She now lives in a group home with four other young men with autism and comes home every weekend. Meg and I have a strong bond, having shared and learned from every stage of her autism.
An autism expert who has lived with the disorder for 35 years. She was my muse for the character Anna, as we didn't discover her remarkable intelligence and ability to express her thoughts through typing until she was 29 years old. She has given presentations at several local colleges (Boston University, Leslie and Regis College) and at the 2019 AutCom Conference. She was scheduled to do more presentations until CoVid-19 interrupted things..
You ccn view some of our previous work here.
Book Quotes and Excerpts
"By converting brain signals into command outcomes BCI technology has the potential to make everyday tasks easier for everyone, but it should not be a priority for everyone. It should be a priority for those for whom it has the potential to do the most good - those who have a diagnosed physical, mental or medical condition. For all of these people BCI can expand abilities and possibilities. It can make a real difference in the quality of their lives."
~ Tom Whittier
"BCIs can eliminate the need to learn to type for those who can't express themselves by talking. All they would have to do is think of what they wanted to say, and the words would appear on a screen. Can you imagine how that would open up the world of not just those with autism, but everyone else who has any kind of speech disorder."
~ Tom Whittier
"What I can tell you is that IVR is going to play a huge role in the future of neurorehabilitation and other areas of medicine as well, because it affords us the ability to substitute the user's body with a virtual body in an environment in which we can control all the variables. And because the user is fully immersed, becomes one with his virtual self, this immersion can result in measurable changes in perception, attitude and behavior."
~ Dahl Alexander, IT expert, Where Is Anna
"We are going to be creating packaged kits, with everything included. These kits must be user-friendly. And by that, I mean idiot proof. At this point it looks like each NeurFX kit will contain either a BCI headset-tablet combo or a BCI-IVR headset combo.
"All the BCI headsets will be standardized. By this I mean, we will come up with one design and try to use it for every kit. This is important because the BCI will be the core of NeurFX, the costliest component, and once we come up with a solution, we do not want to have to switch it out, regardless of what type of output device or treatment protocol is used." - Dan Livingston, Who Is Anna
"The government has to get involved. Otherwise, it will be like it was when Trump was President, when every state was scrambling to figure out what to do and nobody was in charge. In this scenario, we are like Phizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. They created a vaccine, we'll create NeurFX. Then, we'll sell the kits to the government and leave the distribution up to them, with the proviso that they have to go through existing medical and clinical channels." - Anna, Who Is Anna
"The day that I realized that my finger could do the talking was the very best day of my life. For 20 years, all my words and thoughts had been trapped inside my head. Now, suddenly, they could be set free." ~ Anna Whittier
So, I am Anna. I have autism. But my autism no longer defines or limits me. It makes me who I am. A young woman with a unique brain who is able to do some amazing things. A person who is proud to be different and hopes to make a positive difference in this world."
"I believe every one of us has a special gift, but for some of us it is buried deeper than for others. For some of us you have to look harder and longer." ~ Anna Whittier
"The thing that kept blowing my mind as I went through my Q-scans was just how much my brain map was telling me about WHY I am the way I AM. It was uncanny. It is really weird that a simple diagram can explain so much about me.
That is what is so intriguing about the brain. Its architecture is determined by our own actions and behavior, and yet that architecture determines our actions and behavior. Honestly, it makes me wonder why having a QEEG isn't mandatory for anyone with special needs. But… that's a topic for another day. ~ Annatomy Blog, Anna Whittier
"BCI technology, in essence, evens out the playing field for everyone. It recognizes the intent of the user through brain signals, decodes neural activity and translates it into output commands that accomplish the user's goal."
~ Tom Whittier
"What I'm talking about here is not just the remediation of autism but all other mental illnesses, ADHD and other learning disabilities. Permanent relief for conditions such as anxiety, depression, addiction, alcoholism, OCD, PTSD, epilepsy, migraines, fibromyalgia, memory loss, eating disorders... the list is endless."
"As far as body function, prosthetics are just the tip of the iceberg. BCI technology has the potential to restore lost or impaired functionality of people severely disabled by various neuromuscular disorders, like Parkinson's disease, ALS, stroke or spinal cord damage and to enhance or augment functions in healthy individuals." ~ Tom Whittier
"We are not talking about the future here. We're talking about the here and now. We have everything we need right now to completely change the way we think about, well... basically, the human race. Up until now it seems to me, we've spent a lot of time coming up with terms that separate and divide us as humans: black, white, brown, gay, straight, bi, trans, autistic, downs - I could go on listing diagnoses for hours. We've gotten so good at adding labels to differentiate that we have lost sight of the most important thing - and that is what binds us all together."
~ Tom Whittier
"I often wonder what would happen if instead of bearing
a labeled diagnosis of what is wrong with us, we were all appreciated for what we can do, for the things that make us special." ~ Anna Whittier
"That is the remarkable thing about BCI. You don't actually need to have the ability, you just need to have the intent, and it can help you build the ability." ~ Tom Whittier
"I was very lucky. But being able to do what you want to do, what you are capable of doing, shouldn't be a matter of luck. I want that right for everyone." ~ Anna Whittier
But the thing with autism is, our brains do change. So, our compulsions come and go. Generally, they are replaced by other compulsions. I went through a hair pulling stage and a self-injury stage, when I would pinch and scratch myself. Fortunately, I got over those when I started typing and was less frustrated.
To look at me now, people might think, oh yes, she might be autistic but she is the exception to the rule. She can type. As if this just happened. But it didn't just happen.
~ Anna Whittier