I’ve recently had a few people tell me they’re not experts, as if that’s a bad thing. I bring this up because in the old days, pre-brain injury, I held experts in high esteem. I respected their education and experience and saw them as authority figures. Well, okay, I had no problem challenging them in school, but in the realm of health care, I was fairly traditional in how I saw them. Well, okay I did fire my first GP because she wasn’t taking my disease seriously and listening to me as my symptoms worsened. Sigh. I guess I’ve been a mix of traditional and rebellious all my life when it comes to experts.
Anywhoo, when it comes to non-experts, I’ve long held the belief that I can learn from anyone. I don’t care if their IQ is lower than average, if their education ended before junior high, if they come from the “wrong side of the tracks,” or if they have no formal medical education, I can and do still learn from them.
One year after my brain injury, I learnt from a high school dropout who had no medical background and didn’t know me all that well, that education, experience, and familiarity do not necessarily confer good observational skills because she was the first one to notice that there was a big and odd disconnect between my rate of speech and my intellect. What is wrong, she wondered, and finally got the courage to ask me. Brain injury, I replied. She nodded: that would explain it. She went on to tell me why she thought it was odd. People of high IQ speak rapidly. Meanwhile, people who had known me for years, even before my brain injury, who had degrees and diplomas coming out their butts, didn’t notice my speech had slowed down or the odd disconnect between it and my intellect.
Education gives the so-inclined the ability to delude themselves and others with logical-sounding fallacious rationalizations that make our lives miserable by denying our brain injury and its severe sequellae.
So when a few recently told me they’re non-experts, I was relieved. I noticed that they took my concerns seriously, that they thought about what I had said — not what is known in the area of reading — they asked me questions to help their understanding, and they got creative in both analyzing my reading issues and thinking of where and how to find help. Really, quite creative.
What they didn’t do is tell me my expectations are too high or say I read quickly ergo no problem or I read for the same amount of time as the average reader, ignoring the exhaustion I have that average readers don’t have and that I’m a writer. Writers must and do read far, far more than the average. The non-experts also noticed the difference between my writing and reading levels and didn’t need to be told about it.
The difference between my writing and reading is growing and is becoming more and more problematic.
Don’t get me wrong. I learn loads from experts — what is known now, how reading happens at a basic intake level, measuring my brain function; but to find solutions to my damaged reading, I have to look to the non-experts.
As someone said to me, because it looks like experts can’t heal my reading, I’m on a journey of intellectual discovery. And that might in and of itself be exciting for a person like me.