In Combination

Below are two pictures of my brother. Together they make a strong statement. In addition to being autistic low functioning and nonverbal, doctors diagnosed my older brother Michael with Tourette Syndrome (TS). However, he doesn’t seem to have a bad case of it. I understand that, like autism spectrum disorders (ASD), TS manifests itself in a spectrum of severity. The doc who said that Mike was Tourettic, characterized his habits of slapping his chest, slamming his arm against his side, and biting his hand while hitting himself on the head as “complex motor tics”.  Tics are very complicated to explain. They may be involuntary, unvoluntary, irresistible, unwanted or give pleasure to the affected person.


Mike before having ticThe picture to the left is a portrait of my brother is complete in itself. Mike’s unusual visage is in front if a bulletin board that displays sea creatures, which seem to merge into the blackness of his sweater. His expression is enigmatic. Likewise, his state of mind is a mystery. One wouldn’t know that the slinky in his left hand is his favorite toy; one might not even recognize it as a slinky, since it is so jumbled up. It is not clear what he is doing with his right hand, although the blur suggests movement. mike in action hitting himself


The second picture, to the right, is not as strong without the previous portrait. It shows Mike in a blur. It is clear that his right hand is in action, on its way out of the frame, as is his head. The figures on the bulletin board remain in their original positions while my brother moves. Is Mike moving voluntarily? Could this be one of his tics? Looking back on the first picture, one might wonder if the expression on Mike’s face reflects a premonition of an impending seizure. Does he experience an aura before he has a tic or a seizure?


An individual photograph can depict motion: the blur of a hand or leg, heads bowed into the wind while scarves extend horizontally on a blustery day. It takes a series of pictures to truly capture motion, as originally shown by E. J. Muybridge.

The two portraits of my brother show, not so much as a before and after, but a before and during an event of movement. After looking at the original portrait, with very little motion evident, followed by a look at second blur of a picture, I feel compelled to look back to the first for something that I may have missed.

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