I was tense. I was nervous. Not about the program, but about the tech. Bell, in its imitable way, had decided to move my high-speed upgrade date and, as my ISP had warned, the new date was a maybe, too. I went into a tither over what I was supposed to do. I suddenly had a brainwave: use my iPhone’s LTE Personal Hotspot. I did the speed and tech tests, and it passed muster. Of course, it took awhile to find the best spot to prop my iPhone up for optimal speed because nothing is ever simple. I had tried a different webcam than the one builtin to my PC, but decided after this tech test to stick with my default one. I uninstalled the one that used my iPad as a webcam. This all happened not 48 hours before my reading retraining was set to begin.
I wrote up what to do to prepare tech-wise on Post-Its. Turn WiFi off on all my devices, like, all of them! Put my PC into Priority Only mode. Turn off all the apps I knew about who speak to the internet in the background. And keep Data off on my iPhone to conserve it for my videoconferencing with Lindamood-Bell.
I logged into the website I was given as my online conference room and the webcam I’d uninstalled, poked its head into my webcam space, and said, you can’t get rid of me! Ack!! No picture, and no way to figure out how to get the Lindamood-Bell to use my default webcam. Since it looked like I was the only one in the conference room, I disconnected from the LTE Personal Hotspot, reconnected to my ISP’s basic internet so that I could go googling over how to get Chrome to use the default webcam. Meanwhile, I kept trying to uninstall it; it installed itself back in. I entered this unreal loop of install/uninstall. I tried to delete it manually. Nope. The thing was bound and determined to horn in on webcam territory. Nothing in the reviews ever talked about how difficult it is to uninstall.
Luckily, I don’t get tooooo frazzled over computer snafus and can understand icons on websites pretty quickly. I clicked on the HD icon and discovered that switched the webcam feed to the document camera. I wasn’t sure I wanted an HD feed on the Personal Hotspot network, but it was working fine on my basic ISP one. A lot of time had passed and no sign of anyone on the other side. Turn WiFi back on for my iPad, check my email, see she’s waiting, tell her I am too, and then suddenly she’s there.
Oh, interesting. My basic speed that hadn’t passed the tech test showed her me just fine, and her to me just fine. I think when I require a webcam for me and the document camera for materials I’ll be working on, things won’t be so tickety boo. But hopefully by then Bell will have deigned to upgrade my speed. Now that I’ve decided on forking out for faster speed, I kind of not happy with the slower one.
That was the most nerve-wracking part of the whole two and a half hours.
Instead of spending a half hour getting to know the Associate Director at Double Bay, Australia Lindamood-Bell, and the features, we spent half that time. Was OK. I’d figured out most of the online conference room feature set during the assessment back in June and just futzing around today with pushy webcam software. She wanted to know where the neuroscience articles that was part of my goal were located: online or in print. Oh, hmmm, I think most are online. For those, I’ll have to get the Chrome share extension to be able to share my screen with my instructor, otherwise I would use the document camera for printed materials, like the philosophy textbook. She had read all my emails with the Minnesota centre and my blogs on my experiences there. Cool!
She explained that the first one or two days would be fairly simple. The aim was to familiarize me with the process of connecting words to images. I understood the concept but not how that looked in practical terms. She introduced me to my first instructor — clinician in Lindamood-Bell speak. Instructor. Teacher. Clinician. Person who will guide me back to reading.
I have a different clinician per hour. So today, I saw three people: the associate director and clinicians one and two. My head is spinning!
The first part of the first hour was taken up with him asking me questions about what I do outside of the Lindamood-Bell sessions. It was an interesting way to put the question; then I realized most of the time, students are asked these questions and most of the time, the sessions are four hours long, not two. I’m writing this now because I want to get it down before I forget; I want to cement in my head the process, the terms, to help me get into the groove of it. But no way I could do four hours in a row of this. I have one hell of a concentration headache, which writing is only making worse. Moral: blog not the same night but next day or end of the week!
Anyway, after a few minutes of getting to know me and the kind of books I write, he got into the work. We began with him showing me a picture via their document camera so that I could learn about creating images in my head. I was to describe this picture to him. Then he turned it over, and he described it back to me. He asked me questions about it; turned it back over; and we discussed it some more. The main concept here was structure words.
Structure words to describe an image are (as I wrote down):
Interestingly, when he mentioned sound, I instantly heard the bubbles of oxygen that I had, up to that point, only seen and recalled visually in my head. I hadn’t heard any sounds at all. My perception of the picture and recall were all visual.
We then began the process of me imaging one word: snowman. I was introduced to a second concept: independence.
Independence is me being able to image and describe the picture in my head using the structure words, or as many of them as were applicable. I showed good independence, so we zoomed onto sentence by sentence.
And here I was introduced to a third concept. Before he read a sentence from my first one-paragraph story — about trap-jaw ants — he placed a coloured square of felt underneath the document camera. Each sentence was represented by a different coloured square. I was to associate the picture I imaged in my head when he read out one sentence with the square he put down for that sentence. The process was:
- Read a sentence.
- Image it. The picture must be stable, otherwise it will become difficult to recall. (My images morphed or were vague.)
- Describe my image to him.
- Answer any questions he may have to help me fill out that image to both add structure words and represent the entire sentence.
- Place the next square on top of the previous one, leaving a bit of the previous one showing, and move on to the next sentence.
- Once the one-paragraph story was done, flip the squares so that the bottom — first sentence one shows up at the top — and ask me what the picture was of that one.
- Move on to the next square/sentence. I was to recall only my image.
- Once I had progressed through all the squares, getting hints if I needed them to recall my image, my eye movements showing him that I was recalling my image not words, I was to give a word summary.
- The word summary had to be based on my pictures. I also had to not add things from my pictures that were not in the original sentences.
- At the end, I had to give a one-sentence main idea of the one-paragraph story.
I had a five-minute break between clinicians. The new one did another sentence-by-sentence one with me. At the end of the above process, she asked me what she called, “HOTS Questions.” High-order thinking questions. These questions are designed to push inference skills in a logical way. No flights of fancy!
The hardest one for me was when I had to read the one-paragraph story sentence by sentence instead of it being read to me. My first crack at the first sentence ended in immediate amnesia because I’d been so focused on pronouncing the name of the main character correctly. She re-showed it to me, and I remembered to read slowly, word by word, so that my brain could keep up.
My brain had a strange habit of imaging cartoon characters for some of the pictures, like for the paragraph on turducken, my brain insisted the chicken had to appear as a cartoon while the duck was a realistic-looking mallard and the turkey . . . well, it was like a well-drawn illustration.
We ended with imaging multiple sentences. We didn’t have enough time to complete the whole process; I only got as far as creating mental pictures for each set of multiple sentences. But I was quite happy not to have to strain my brain anymore.
As the Associate Director had said, it was fairly simple. Yet the moment my first clinician had asked me to begin to create an image in my head, I could feel my brain work. I could feel the effort even though my mind thought this was dead simple to do and I was showing good independence. He didn’t have to prompt me much.
I would’ve liked to have known who my clinicians are ahead of time. I seem to be OK with the differing accents, American and Australian, but my brain injury insists on knowing what to expect and who to expect ahead of time. Not knowing feels like standing over a chasm, not knowing where my next step will land. Despite that, I did pretty good. And I’m now wayyyy more relaxed about the tech.
*This is unedited because I’m seriously fuzzy headed now.