The LEGO Factor

Today I am building Big Ben out of LEGOs. As someone with Asperger's, I like LEGOs because they satisfy that junction in my brain where precision meets creativity. I have the option to either follow a set of directions toward a predetermined end, or I can riff on those instructions, or discard them entirely.

I think Sherlock Holmes would have liked LEGOs. Or any kind of building toy or tool. The ability to model things . . .

It's difficult to explain, but if you take the computer analogy (Holmes talking about his brain as his hard drive), imagine that there are many processes and programs running at once. A LEGO kit—a puzzle works as well—brings one specific process to the fore; it prioritizes. There's something calming about that. No longer is there an equal clamor in the brain, everything demanding attention. Meanwhile, other things continue to run in background. And so it's very common for me, while focusing on something as simple as finding and matching pieces, to come to a realization, have an epiphany, solve a problem that has nothing to do with whether the clock tower is tall enough yet. It's because some other program has finished running while I was busy, and now it chimes to let me know it's done, and suddenly I have the ending to the story or the answer to the question.

The way the blocks go together mimics the way my brain builds information. Drawing two, three, four hundred pieces together into a form that makes sense.

Of course, Big Ben is what you construct when you have what Holmes would call a 346-piece problem. If and when I get really stuck:

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