Brain PowerPersonalTreatment

Twenty-Six Hours in To Visualizing and Verbalizing at Lindamood-Bell

River in Yukon between mountains I thought Visualizing and Verbalizing was tough before. Yesterday, my fatigue grew and grew during the first hour that answering two more questions in the last minute was impossible. I’d read a third Whole Paragraph — only ever done two max before — done a word summary on it, been guided to develop more images and solidify them, come up with the main idea, and answered one or two higher order thinking questions. Before that, I’d completed two Multiple Sentences that were longer than I’d done up to that point and were filled with abstract language and concepts. I’d also begun the hour with a short recall task. I’d been expecting this task would be added; still, being asked to recall one of the stories I’d read the previous day caught me by surprise. Total blank for a few moments. Then the pink armadillo story slowly surfaced into memory. First a vague image, then it solidified and lead to another image and another until I remembered the key details. (Today, being asked at the start of the second hour, not just the first, also took me by surprise. Much more difficult trying to pull out of the blankness of my memory a second story.)

Although I didn’t feel myself being drained as I recalled the story, I’m sure I used up some of the brain energy I would normally have had to read and create images.

I had also met with the Associate Director and Director about an hour before my instruction for a half hour videoconference. Maybe I didn’t recover my energy fully before I began my training . . .

My neurodoc was supposed to have been there. He got the address wrong. But I had a productive meeting, regardless. And I’m so used to doing rehab on my own that having had a successful collaboration would’ve seemed weird, anyway.

Today, the Director of Instruction, who was in California, joined in on my first half-hour of instruction. Between her and yesterday’s meeting, I learnt a few things.

What is effort on my part to the point I begin to develop a concentration headache and can feel the energy leaving me, looks effortless to Lindamood-Bell staff. No wonder brain injury is so invisible! Interestingly, my term “concentration headache” gave both the clinician directing my instruction and the Director of Instruction vivid images of what was going on in my brain. I hadn’t developed any images from my own term!

I’m only twenty-six hours in and already at level J (new term for me!), which is grade level 9/10. They’re very happy with that, though expected me to be on this pace. I was told there isn’t any difference in terms of content between grade levels 9 and 10, and 11 and 12. The difference between 10 and 11 is subtle and usually about increasing vocabulary and building on prior knowledge. It mayn’t be much difference between grade levels once reached high school level, but I feel like I’ve been flung into a swift moving river and am stroking hard to keep my head up. I’m doing it, but the ice cream refuelling is becoming essential! It doesn’t help my fatigue when it’s muggier than a swamp after a thunderstorm.

Another thing I learnt: when concept imagery becomes automatic and language processing advances (becomes easier, I think), that’s when I may start to achieve flow — the state when so immersed in a book or work or cooking that the real world falls away from your consciousness. But my fatigue will limit how long my brain can sustain that. No guarantees!

Imagery in day-to-day conversation happens when automaticity has been attained in creating images. However, you can kickstart it in another person by uttering a negative command: “Don’t picture a pink elephant.” You just saw a pink elephant, didn’t you? Apparently, your brain does that automatically so as to be able to carry out the negative command.

The Associate Director noted I had changed, now adding gestures and using language that was consciously painting a picture in her mind. So even if I cannot perceive much change in myself, someone who sees me only every few days or once a week, can. That’s why the Director of Instruction wants to see me again next week, to see for herself if there are any changes. Meanwhile, she’s adding in a new task for tomorrow: Paragraph by Paragraph. Yikes! She assured me we would go down to a lower level, 5/6, for that. Phew.

These longer Multiple Sentence stories that require “5 felts” or have much more abstract language in them, are making my neurons pulse hard and continuously in areas not used to working in this way. This work is making me more aware of my imagery during instruction and is starting in a tiny way to make me conscious that maybe I should try creating images when reading articles outside of instruction. Maybe.

As they get me closer to automaticity, then it will bleed more into my normal reading life like tweets and articles. When I get to a place where it becomes automatic, then they’ll introduce more and more language.

Various people at Lindamood-Bell have commented on my focus and how I’m really working the process. I was a bit puzzled by that. I understand kids may not be diligent. They won’t be aware of the monetary outlay and maybe don’t care or want to work that hard. But any adult who plunks down a chunk of change and then doesn’t work at it is either swimming in dough or is . . . (scratches head) . . . I got nothing. This is the way I was raised. Work hard whether the job is school, volunteer, or paid. And besides, I’ve been trying to regain my reading for 18 years. I’m having all sorts of blinking grief issues over that, that disappear during these two hours of intense instruction. Escape from the crap is rather motivating, too.