The crimson sun hovered just above the road in my rearview mirror as I headed home from the city. A dusty haze along the highway muted the sharp lines and distinct colors of nearby office and apartment buildings. The tires of my car hummed noisily, providing background music for my reflections. I thought about Raun, knowing he had broken through some of those invisible walls that enabled him to make more sense out of his environment than before and take some small but meaningful steps toward interacting with us. However, his continued self-stimulating behavior and his obvious inability to absorb and digest information - the enigma of some as yet undefined organic dysfunction - suggested disconnected or disassembled circuitry in his mind. The system that catalogs and retrieves information from the memory cells of the cerebral cortex seemed inoperative in him. And, if this was so, how could we correct what was already awry? It was simple: We couldn't. But maybe Raun could.
I had researched studies done of people who had suffered strokes and read of the possibility of "permanent damage" In many cases, it could be shown that specific masses of brain cells and tissue had been irrevocably destroyed. Autopsies revealed large areas permanently impaired by scarring. And yet, despite such damage, some patients found new ways to talk and new ways to move, and made new connections that allowed them to regain control over areas once paralyzed. They did not regain the functions of the destroyed cells but rather activated portions of the brain not previously utilized, expanding the potential of existing neurons.
Why did some stroke victims make these seemingly miraculous jumps while others remained crippled and handicapped? Most professionals attribute such jumps to motivation, an ingredient essential to the success of most serious operations and treatments. We knew that if we could inspire Raun to seek involvement with us, he might then make new connections and open new channels. Memorizing data and submitting to simple training and behavioral conditioning could never accomplish what might evolve as a result of our activating his own desire to learn.
We needed more than his partnership; Raun had to play a leading role in his own recovery.Chapter 6 Part II