What is our agenda?

Multi-disciplinary research will be the hallmark of our efforts.

• Identification. Our understanding of the dimensions and symptoms of GPS and other neurological conditions, such as so-called nonverbal learning disability, ADHD, sensory integration disorder, high-functioning autism--to name just a few, is poor and existing neurological and neuropsychological tests are, as a consequence, clumsy indicators of these conditions. Research in this area aims to develop a better understanding of symptoms and better evaluative tools for identification of these neurological conditions. These evaluative tools include not only diagnostic tests but also MRIs and similar imaging techniques.

• Genetic and Environmental Triggers. We need a better understanding of the genetic makeup of GPS and similar neurological conditions and how they are passed on through generations. We also need to know how prevalent these conditions have been in different cultures at different times. Has the nature or prevalence of these conditions changed over time because of environmental factors? If so, when did things change and what might be responsible for the change? Is the attraction of people with GPS (or similar conditions) to one another in part a function of the isolation from others caused by ignorance about the condition or is it somehow “built-in?”

• IQ. Of those with GPS and similar conditions who have found “another way round” and managed to achieve great success in economics, law, music, politics, art or any number of other fields, one generally finds an IQ score that, however high, seems just too low to capture what IQ is supposed to capture. And we do not mean here some new-age vision of intelligence; we mean intelligence as society has traditionally understood that word. Is the debate about the IQ test all wrong? Are the spatial questions, for example, skewing test results to confine the “intelligent” to the “not-so-smart” bin? If so, how can the IQ test be fixed to better fulfill its original aims?

• Eating disorders. Many people with GPS suffer from eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia or obesity. Symptoms include an inability to know when you are hungry (appetite agnosia), a preconscious sense of motion sickness, acidic stomach and a craving for certain foods. Body schema is often or always somewhat distorted. How are present eating disorder treatments and “weight loss or gain” regimes affecting those with GPS? How can these treatments be adjusted to better serve those whose eating disorder is caused or connected to an underlying neurological condition?

• Other Health Risks and Benefits According to the NIMH website 2004, there were no outstanding NIMH grants to study the closest recognized disorder to GPS, Developmental Gerstmann’s Syndrome. Still, some promising work has occurred, although it has received very little attention and its significance has not yet been realized. That work suggests links between Gerstmann’s and: lupus, anaphylactic shock, alcoholism, lead poisoning, and carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, people with GPS may be more susceptible than others to herpes simplex and (in the past and in those countries in which it has re-emerged) polio. On the other hand, it is possible that people with GPS enjoy certain health benefits. Many of the families prone to this disorder seem to exhibit longer than average life spans as well as a youthful exuberance for life among the elderly. Exploring these links to health risks and health benefits may well yield important information about disease, longevity, and zest for life in advanced years that may prove beneficial to people with and without the neurological condition.

• Education. People with GPS and some other poorly understood neurological conditions are “incidental” or “intuitive”learners. Our education system is, on the other hand, designed for “intentional learners.” In short, people with some of these conditions who succeed in life, often do so in spite of school, not because of it. That must change. We must study the educational path of those who have succeeded to find the secrets to educating those with these neurological conditions. Learning from the top down, not the bottom up, is key; keeping “meaning” front and center, not the details, is critical. We must begin at once to make our schools a “safe” place for these gifted people among us and not the nightmare it currently is for so many. We must begin at once to make our babies’ rooms “safe” with toys and art and music that soothe and do not disturb and disorient the many precious infants with this condition in homes everywhere. We need to start now.