My final week. Hard to believe the Lindamood-Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing program is almost over; in three weeks or so, it’ll be re-evaluation time. We’ll see, objectively, how much my reading comprehension has improved . . . if it has. Hopefully the tests will show I’ve improved and it’s not all a feeling!
Today, I read one page of a novel on my own for the first time in eons, using Lindamood-Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing method. It’s a bit strange asking yourself to give yourself a word summary of the novel page you just read, then tell yourself, “Now give the main idea and a couple of your strongest pictures, too, please.” But the latter especially helped me develop my mental imagery, for I was not as disciplined in creating imagery as I am during my sessions.
The pages of the trade paperback I’m reading are fairly long, so it astounds me that reading a page out loud while trying to create imagery took me only two minutes. And another six to do the word summary, main idea, and pictures. It’s difficult to ascertain if I captured the main idea OK; in session I usually can tell if I’m being a bit wordy, not so much if I miss key points.
Unlike previous Sundays, there wasn’t a huge jump in my abilities. Instead, subtle changes like remembering the plethora of foreign-sounding names in The Lions of Al-Rassan easier; creating imagery for philosophical concepts in real time instead of through extensive discussion; being able to recap the novel to date more succinctly. It’s amazing to me that in my recap all the confusing flashbacks and internal observations and memories that Jehane peppers her narration with turned into an easily articulated picture of the society she lives in and the lessons she learned.
Since my brain injury over eighteen years ago, I’ve been unable to read books. Building up the big picture, remembering character names, keeping track of plot points, predicting what will come next in a novel, all eluded me. When Lindamood-Bell told me that they can restore my book reading, I was hopeful yet skeptical as to how that was possible in only 80 hours of instruction. After reading twenty-five pages of The Lions of Al-Rassan, I am doing all of that. I am beginning to engage with the story. I can hardly grasp this change!
Six years ago, I exerted great effort to comprehend the Philosophy of Mind course notes as I read them. I was unable to acquire new vocabulary. Last week and today, using Lindamood-Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing techniques, I am acquiring new vocabulary with effort but retaining the new words and phrases. I am not struggling to understand the concepts; I’m grasping them fairly quickly.
Reading comprehension matters. It matters to enjoyment of books. It matters to understanding new concepts and ideas. No “cognitive therapy” strategy improves reading comprehension after brain injury, no matter what the medical experts claim. In seven weeks, Visualizing and Verbalizing has done more to improve my reading comprehension than anything and everything else I’ve done. The question is: will I retain this new skill? Only time will tell.