Major looks proud and Minor, as usual, looks happy. They are both smiling and it is this fact that they are imitating what presumably the cameraman is doing to them that I was considering as I drove home; the strange phenomenon that every child learns, in his early months, to make eye contact and to smile in response to another human smile. Even an autistic child learns this; even my nephew who is at the lower end of the autistic spectrum (and at the age of thirteen can hardly speak at all) smiled when he was a young baby. But then, just at the time of the first MMR jab (a coincidence, I believe, although my parents are convinced otherwise), this skill, in the autistic child, is somehow lost.
Recently, when I was colouring in my brain book I read that the neurons develop outwards in the developing human brain. They migrate to the surface and then seem to back-track and then, after a few months, some of these outer neurons die off as if they are not needed.
I also read recently in Nature (News@Nature (21 May 2007)) that in the first six months of life a baby can distinguish between different languages just from visual cues of the speaker but this capacity disappears later in childhood. I suppose this is more evidence of unneeded neurons dying off.
Then I thought that maybe this is what happens in autistic children - it would explain the smile and then that empathic skill being lost. Maybe the wrong neurons disappear.
However that musing is not the point of this post. The point of this post is that I wrote a couple of sentences that may be the start of a new book after several months of doing nothing much except editing and I want to celebrate. I was not suffering from any sort of block, merely overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness. So far it is only a sentence or two but it might be a start.