Update: I got a second opinion about the surgery from a doctor at Mid-Michigan Ear, Nose, and Throat (https://www.mment.org/). He said that the plastic surgeon that I consulted with didn’t provide a good solution because he didn’t warn me about the side effects, and that his method was far too invasive. For now, I have put any future nasal surgery plans on hold.
The following blog is written by Yuval Levental, a reader and contributor to our blog site. At present Yuval, who is on the autism spectrum, completed a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and is interested in doing research on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). He started a job in Information Technology where he answers questions and repairs computer hardware and software. Yuval has previously written an essay at corticalchauvinism.com where he discussed his life, views on neurodiversity, and a couple of autism symptoms (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2015/01/14/visualizing-neurodiversity-breathing-for-treatment/).
I asked Yuval to describe himself so that the reader would get to know him better. This is what he said: I am a person on the autism spectrum who advocates for treatment or a cure, because the evidence for autism as being positive is meaningless in most cases. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from ESIEE Paris. Through researching the cause of my autism, I have developed interests in physiology, cellular biology, and neuroscience. In the quest for a cure, I have successfully progressed by attempting to introduce more potassium and less sodium in my diet, and have recently undergone Botox which mitigated my symptoms. Additionally, I like to spread awareness of arguments against Neurodiversity through social media and Wikipedia. Other hobbies of mine include recreationally solving complex math puzzles, traveling, eating new foods, and learning about different cultures.
In the last article where I talked about potential future treatments for autism (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2016/07/21/yuval-levental-plastic-surgery-and-autism/), I wrote about why I wanted a cure, namely that the unemployment rate for autistic individuals was significantly high, and that even proponents of the neurodiversity model claimed that they supported it because they couldn’t find another possible solution for autistic individuals (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2017/04/03/the-challenges-and-myths-of-high-functioning-autistics/).
I also wrote about my discovery of a 2011 study (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/children-with-autism-have-distinct-facial-features-study/), which claimed that certain autistics had different facial features than non-autistics. I then went to Michigan Plastic Surgery (http://miplasticsurgery.com/) in East Lansing, Michigan to get a consultation. The doctor there said that the muscle on top of my nose was working too hard, potentially causing a lot of the autism symptoms I have. He said that to relieve the pressure, he would inject Botox in the muscle area, which would weaken it by blocking neurotransmitters for three-four months.
Up to now, I have had four botox injections; they were on July 18, 2016, December 20, 2016, April 20, 2017, and July 31, 2017. Following are pictures of my face before and after the four injections:
Picture of my face, July 15, 2016
Picture of my face, August 15, 2017. Notice that the muscles at the top of my nose are far less tense, shorter in width, and not as thick as before.
Additionally, I wrote a follow-up piece discussing that how my obsessive routines faded or completely disappeared, and that I also became more organized (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2016/10/17/yuval-levental-autism-and-the-pursuit-of-knowledge/). I started to see learning less in terms of awards and academic prestige, and more in terms of the joy of discovery, being that infinite knowledge is impossible. Before the treatments I couldn’t sit still for two hours at a time; now, I can sit still for as long as is needed. The only downside is that I cannot do mental arithmetic in my head as fast as I used to be able to, but the tradeoff was definitely worth it.
On August 15, 2017, I went to another plastic surgeon, Rick J, Smith, MD, also in East Lansing, MI (https://www.rickjsmithmd.com/). I discussed my findings with him, and after setting up a future meeting with a pre-operative nurse on September 18, 2017, he suggested that I should have surgery on September 27, 2017. He now said that in addition to the top of my nose being too thin, that another problem is that my forehead is putting too much pressure on the top of my nose. He is planning to smooth my forehead and my nose to relieve pressure. The surgery will cost around $5000, but I am able to pay for it.
Proof of the surgery consultation, August 15, 2017.
I am not entirely sure if I will be fully cured after this surgical procedure. I know the reduction of my forehead muscle already tremendously helped me, and hopefully, my personal experience will be influential in scientific research in the future, autism or otherwise.
After the surgery, I am looking forward to doing a follow-up piece about what further experiences I will have, and what I will have learned.