Musician and teacher Julie Hanify has played the piano since she was a child, but for most of her life she felt like she was “playing blindfold”. In her memoir Small Blue Thing: Life on the Spectrum, Julie writes:
I had the sense that each note was in its own world and that the next note was a total surprise, as if it were on the following page. Reading music was like leaping note to note over an abyss. I lived my life like this. I’d be in the moment with no forward thought or planning for the next.”
When she was 43, Hanify was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The prescribed medication improved her brain’s capacity to filter and sort multiple stimuli. Now, for the first time ever, she could sight-read music. More generally, she was able to sense the present moment as having been shaped by the past and as contributing to the future. With a sense of sequence as a frame for life’s experiences, Hanify could grasp previously elusive concepts like anticipation, planning, and cause and effect. “Medication”, she writes, “changed my life”.