Tag Archives: Delayed development

Little Green Frogs

A week into term 3 and I don’t have time to type up a backlog of diary entries. So I’ll leave you with this story. I hope you find it uplifting and encouraging on a Monday morning. I heard this tale from a visitor at a school assembly. Because of my serious Auditory Processing Disorder, listening was still not one of my stronger abilities during my school years. I always tried hard to focus despite this, and in this case was really happy that I did. I may have missed bits of it, but I caught the gist of a story which still feels important to me years later.

Little Green Frogs

One day in a rainforest hundreds of tiny green frogs decided to climb to the top of the tallest tree. Wondering what was going on, many people gathered around the tree trunk to watch the spectacle.  It seemed an impossible climb for creatures so small. As they climbed, the people below started shouting at them. “Stupid frogs, you’re too small, you’re never going to make it! You’ll never reach the top!” The frogs began to get tired as they climbed higher and higher. One by one they became exhausted and fell, or collapsed to rest on the branches. Still the people at the bottom of the tree kept shouting. More and more frogs gave up until there was only one left. It kept climbing until it finally reached the top of the forest’s tallest tree, clearing the leafy canopy and emerging in the sun. All the other frogs had fallen or given up, but one made it.

The little green frog at the top of the tree was deaf.

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Sunday 1st March- The joys of academia

I have SO much homework, an overdue essay to rewrite which I discovered this morning, and revision for two exams which I tanked. Apparently, Tanked can also be a positive description. A garden supervisor once said when I dug over a big area, working flat out, “You tanked that”.

When I say “I tanked an exam”, I mean Tanked as in, like a tank falling from the sky, and whatever resulting unhappiness when it hits the ground with a huge splat. This was a very tough exam in the format of mini essays, which unfortunately can not be answered with a two-word sentence.  

Although I have chosen to go to college, I am not an academic person. I would much rather do things than write essays about it. It is a small miracle that I went to college in the first place. Not because I had very few qualifications- I have a few good highers under my belt. The main reason for not leaving home to study would have been my Auditory Processing Disorder and Retained Reflexes, which affected my life in general as well as making learning much much more difficult. After Johansen IAS therapy to help with my Auditory Processing, and going to The Movement and Learning Centre Scotland to get rid of the Retained Reflexes which were holding me back, I had the health, energy, social skills and learning capacity to go to college. 

So here I am, living independently in a different city, studying with mixed results. I’m not academic and probably never will be, but the fact that I’ve made it this far is something to be happy about. Anyway, no matter who you are, and what your brain is like, sometimes during an exam you just have a bad day.

Thursday 27th November- Animal Balloons and Social Awkwardness

This morning, my laptop seemed to be broken. As well as studying, I had an important email to send, so I went to college to ask for help from IT Support.

Searching the college for the IT Support room, I asked some men in a room downstairs for directions. They had some balloons over their desk partitions. The balloons were creatively added to with paper post-it notes to look like animals. I was particularly impressed by one which resembled a chicken. In a moment of impulsive enthusiasm I told them “I love your balloons, they’re awesome!”.

They said, “That’s not how to talk to us”.

It has been said that Social Awkwardness is the Curse of Genius. Well, in my case, it isn’t.

In better circumstances of mental energy, ideally the rest of the conversation should have been along the lines of, haha, you’re a funny guy. Did you make the balloon animals yourself? It’s upstairs? Thank you very much.

But.

I was feeling stressed out already, with a lot of deadlines and a gubbed computer on my mind. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh if it was a joke because he was smiling. And also, I wasn’t sure if it was funny enough to laugh at. It took me a long, blank staring moment to think about this.

In which time, he was starting to look reproachful and said, “Did you get it?”

I wasn’t sure if the joke was what I thought it might be, and how it might work since he was male, and therefore not in possession of any possible metaphorical balloons. Also, since he was possibly a lecturer/ figure of authority was it actually appropriate for me to laugh at his balloon joke? At the same time I still wondering if I found it that funny, and whether I could manage to do a convincing laugh to put his mind at rest that it was indeed a funny joke and I totally understood it.  He really wanted me to laugh by now (and was possibly regretting his balloon punchline), but today I did not have the energy.

I apologised and explained that just like my laptop, my brain was fried. Did he know where to find IT support?

Sometimes, you just have to forget socially awkward moments and get on with life. I hurried upstairs, the IT Support guys sorted my laptop in seconds, and I made a mental note to never use novelty balloons as a conversation topic again.

 

SUnday 28th September- More Busking

I got up earlyish, practiced a little then headed out to royal mile. This morning I had put effort into learning the main song from  Frozen. I thought that people would like it, but the general attitude to it was more like, meh. Maybe they’d heard it too many times already. I did get a request from a guy with a 1ft Mohican for a flute rendition of The Dead Kennedys. I put it on my list. I do play some rock music. It’s something I’m working on it. At the moment I playing one of the more melodic songs by Nine Inch Nails, called Losing Hope. It’s slow, sad and beautiful. It’s hard to play angry, edgy stuff on a flute. And something I’ve noticed is that tourists often prefer happy songs. Playing endless mournful stuff won’t earn me much.

I did okay, £10 for about 3 hours. Some of that was spent walking to different pitches. The top of the royal mile seems to be best, but you have to arrive fairly early to get a spot. I thought I’d found a patch until a bagpiper turned up and drowned me out.  Since a flute is a piercing instrument and echoes on the buildings, I don’t need an amplifier. But bagpipes still trump all.

Would I have had the confidence to play in the street in the past, before I went to Johansen IAS & MLC Scotland? Never. My confidence is growing. Even events like yesterday help. It can’t go as badly as that, I think to myself. I’m just starting out at busking, and although I’m not the best street musician there, it’s a relief to probably not be the least skilled.

I wouldn’t have busked in Glasgow. It’s easier to start in a very busking-friendly city, where barely anyone knows you. I suppose that busking actually is a good way for many people to know and recognize you, but I’m doing it because I love music, could do with a little extra money, and want to kill my performance nerves before my first gig as a drummer. It gives my flute a purpose. I love playing to people and seeing some of them smile as they pass. I feel like thanks to the Johansen and MLC therapies, and my fresh start in a new city, old parts of me which I’d forgotten are starting to come back to life.

Off to a friend’s house in the afternoon. We bought some drinks, watched the start of Hot Fuzz and had dinner.

On my way home I passed a homeless man. It’s so sad that people still have to live without shelter, especially in this wealthy country. It makes me angry that life has failed them. I’d given him a little change on my way past, but almost forgot about the big bottle of Mango Rubicon in my bag and went back with it. I probably wouldn’t use it. Maybe he’d like it. When I asked, he said yes, he did want it thanks. He said you’re gorgeous I love you. Not in a creepy way, which is kind of how it sounds here. More like, in return for a litre bottle of mango Rubicon, he wanted to give me the nicest words he could find. I hope his life gets better. He seemed like a nice man and worth writing about.

That’s me written up the last week in one night. I’ve been too busy to write recently! The Gibberish Dictionary website is very neglected.

Now the theme tune of Frozen is stuck in my head. Tomorrow is my first day of a pretty much 9-5 course.

It will be a lot of work, there’s not doubt about that. But I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and chatting with my class. There’s a social side of college I never got near at school. Now I can talk to my friends, hang around with them, hear enough and have the confidence and attitude and energy to be completely included. Before I could hear clearly, it was like every sound and thought was foggy and I had nothing to contribute. Now I’ve been hanging around in a group with my college friends, talking and laughing. Maybe even the odd race on the wheeled common area chairs is in store for me. It’s what I’ve always wanted.

Saturday 27th September- The Teenage Years begin

I did not want to get out of bed.

It’s harder to get to sleep since I moved here, and also harder to wake up. My curtains really keep out the light and my new bed is like a big bean bag- getting out of it is difficult, and then you realise that you don’t want to.

Maybe it’s my furniture’s fault, or it could be the start of my teenage years. The Retained Reflexes I had caused Delayed Development. Now that the Retained Reflexes are gone, thanks to therapy from The Movement and Learning Centre Scotland, I’ve been catching up with my age group quick. Auditory Processing Disorder also kept me lagging behind socially. After Johansen IAS therapy, auditory processing is only a difficult area for me, and I can hear as clearly as almost anyone. Over the past few years I’ve learned a whole load of new social skills I missed early on.  

Last night was exceptionally late by my standards, but something I’ve noticed over the past few months is my difficulty/reluctance to get up on time. It’s as if I’m living out the jetlagged teenage years. I had some insomnia when I was a teenager, but this felt much more normal and healthy. Without the adrenaline jag of a Retained Moro Reflex, it’s so easy to go back to snoozing even if you’re going to be late. My anxious, too-serious, adrenalized past-self is long gone. Who cares if I’m five minutes late? It’s not the end of the world. And if it is, Armageddon can wait. I’ll sleep through it.

Today was a university music jam. I was really looking forwards to it. A chance to play drums! Again, like wind band, I just dived in without thinking about it much. Have I played in front of people before? Yep. Once. Have I ever played drums for a jam? Besides with my bandmates in Glasgow, nope.

Before the music jam, I bought some work boots for gardening. The salesman was very keen, referring to the shoe in his hand as “he” and telling my all about him. Good boots and good prices, despite the shop being a little eccentric.

The jam…..A really brilliant drummer I met was there too. He can play anything and has tons of drum experience. I asked him about some stuff, and he taught me a double pedal exercise. Unfortunately for the first hour, there was no key for the drum kit. We played on the tables, which was fun, but there’s only so much you can do with a table.

We got drums from the cupboard. The other drummer played amazingly, then I had a go. The musicians seemed to want me to start with a rhythm. I had no idea what to play. I’m still really not used to leading music. I ended up playing very similar stuff. In the middle I kind of freaked out a bit and froze, making for a very awkward jam. I couldn’t think of what to play, and they had to play without me for a bit. I got lost again and handed sticks back to other drummer. It didn’t help that seat was so high my feet barely reached the pedals, but I can’t blame the kit for my performance. Not much anyway. I did my best. For my amount (lack of) experience I did okay. I love drumming, and am again faced with the fact that I still have a long way to go to become a good drummer. Yes, it had its embarrassing, awkward, ego-shrivelling moments, but I want to be at the next jam. I want to be the best drummer I can be, and that means working my way up from the beginning.

 

Tuesday 3rd September 2014- My real journey starts here.

I’ve been keeping this diary for more than 3 years now. I started it when I was 17 and soon I’ll be 20. Over the past 3 years I didn’t just gain a physical and emotional balance thanks to MLC Scotland’s therapy for Retained Reflexes, and become able to hear clearly after Johansen IAS therapy. Because Retained Reflexes and serious Auditory Processing Disorder were no longer delaying my development and holding me back, I learned a lot of things which are important in daily life, which I previously had no idea about. Here are some things I’ve learned since 2011. I’ve come a long way. I feel like I’ve had almost 20 years of experience crammed into just 3.

  • I’m not stupid after all. It’s amazing how much confidence the diagnosis of a learning difference gave me.
  • Songs have words!
  • Talking to other people and making friends isn’t as scary as I thought. I enjoy chatting and making friends.
  • Sarcasm. It’s important.
  • I won’t scare people away if I tell them that I have APD. In fact, it makes, and brings us closer because they understand why I might sometimes seem distant or confused.
  • Music. Clear hearing gave music an entirely new dimension. I loved music before Johansen therapy, but now it is INCREDIBLE.
  • I have synaesthesia. That explains a lot.
  • I have some dairy allergies. Also explains a lot.
  • Being yourself is important. I used to be happy just when everyone else was happy. Before Johansen and MLC I felt so confused and overwhelmed that most of the time I had no idea about what I thought or how I felt. I used to think that people would like me to be if I was more like them. I tried to please them too much. People can’t decide whether to like you or not if withhold everything that you think and feel. They want to be friends with someone different from them. Otherwise it would be like being friends with themselves, which would be kind of pointless.
  • It’s okay to argue. Following on from the last point.
  • Figures of speech. Before Johansen IAS, when friends said “I had a bad day, don’t ask”, I used to cheerfully say “Okay”, and leave them hanging.
  • Orange Marches are not a community celebration in honour of the colour Orange. (I used to take things very literally).
  • Being polite is important, but pointless if it puts you in danger.
  • You can’t help other people if you don’t look after yourself as well.
  • Toothpaste burns if you get it in your eyes.
  • FCUK stands for French Connection UK. It is not people wearing a swearword on their clothes, but misspelled so that they can get away with it.
  • Beanie hats. Where had they been all my life?
  • Touch typing. Type up a diary entry every day for three years, and I guarantee you will have that keyboard clicking away at a rate of knots.
  • The School Years are not the best years of your life. Trust me on this.
  • I am a drummer! Johansen IAS therapy toned down my hypersensitive and sometimes painfully-loud hearing. This dispelled my fear of loud noises. Without Johansen IAS therapy I would never have discovered one my favourite things in the world. Soon after this musical epiphany I also learned that most families hate listening to creative and prolonged tapping on their furniture.
  • Everyone has something they struggle with. Whether that’s Auditory Processing disorder or another learning/processing difference, a job they hate, a fear of spiders, or any one of an infinite list of problems. Compared to many people in the world I have had a very easy, sheltered and wonderful life. So I should shut my mouth and count my blessings when my ears-to-brain connection malfunctions and I feel like whining about it.
  • I don’t have to do everything people tell me to.
  • I can think outside of the box. And not just when people tell me to.
  • No matter how much I love someone, I am not responsible for them or how they feel.
  • I can lie if I want/need to. I used to almost literally not be able to lie, or even bend the truth when asked a question. I still hate lying. It feels uncomfortable. However, lying is an important skill to be able to have, even if you don’t use it.
  • People are complicated, but that’s okay.
  •  “Normal” is just an average created by measuring how everyone is different.

Without Retained Reflexes and serious Auditory Processing Disorder, I can deal with the world.

The world is complicated. Before I could hear clearly, it was kind of like living inside my own little bubble. Now that my bubble has burst, the world seems huge and that can be a little intimidating. But I think that life sometimes being complicated is part of the challenge. I think (and I hope I don’t regret saying this) that if life was really simple, it might be boring. Anyway, living in a bubble, I was not going to grow. Or learn. Or experience anything. At all. Sometimes things might feel a bit scary and uncertain, like leaving home, which is the thing weighing on my mind right now. I might feel like burying my head in the sand so deep it sticks out in Australia, and watching Chuck box sets while I should be packing, but I’m not going to back out of my decision to move away to study. I want this. I want to leave home, start my own life and grow. Lots of self-help books claim to be able to tell you the meaning of your life (it’s never on the blurb, you always have to buy it first), but I think that it’s different for everyone, and more about the journey than the destination anyway. It’s okay to feel unsure about life and sometimes not know what to do, as long as you keep trying to head in the right direction. If I get through my life with as much integrity as possible, have fun, make gardens beautiful for people to enjoy, play a lot of music, and of course, raise awareness for Retained Reflexes and Auditory Processing Disorder, I will feel like I have achieved something worthwhile.

My real journey starts here.

Monday 17th July 2014- People are complicated, but that’s okay.

Volunteering at the botanics today, I helped the outdoor gardener with pulling out brambles in the cafe garden. This is satisfying, but can also be a bit prickly. A man sitting at a patio table talked to us about the Scottish Independance referendum for a long time. Although I agree with some of what he said, I had a feeling that he had an agenda. He congratulated me on points I made, which I hadn’t really made and had an air of educating someone who knows less than him, treating me like someone who has been duped and misinformed. I may be a gardener, not a rocket scientist, but I’m also not stupid.

Over the past few years as my hearing has improved (after Johansen IAS therapy made my Auditory Processing Disorder manageable), I have been able to listen to and understand conversations. Because of this I have learned so much more about people. Mainly that people are complicated. There are tiny little nuances and inflections in every sentence, relating to their mood of that moment or perhaps memories which the conversation is bringing up for them. Sometimes they are trying to lead the conversation a certain way, and they want you to say a certain thing. As in the case with this man, they may be trying to persuade you of something. He was confident, assertive, and a little flattering of us when the conversation went in the direction he hoped. He was a very intelligent speaker.

In the past, before Movement and Learning Centre (MLC Scotland) and Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation (Johansen IAS)therapies, I would not have recognized this. I used to be permanently strung out from lack of sleep (anxiety issues relating to a fully-retained Moro Reflex), my brain processing at half-speed. Before I went to MLC Scotland, I was too unbalanced and shy to talk to strangers. Without Johansen IAS, I would still have serious Auditory Processing Disorder. and I would not have heard clearly enough to have a conversation with him if we were sitting side-by-side at the table, let alone while I was a few feet away inside of a shrub, fighting with brambles.

I like talking to other people, even although they seem more complicated than they used to. I always learn something new. Nowadays I understand that it is up to me to decide what I take away from conversations. I don’t have to believe that everything people say is true, just because I like them. That was a big learning curve. Before MLC and Johansen therapies, it was extremely difficult for me to interact with other people and make friends. I had a sort of two-dimensional, children’s picture book idea of people. I assumed that most people were uncomplicated and didn’t have much of a personal agenda. Without Retained Reflexes and serious Auditory Processing Disorder, life has got easier for me. I’ve learned more about myself and my own feelings and I think that this has helped me to understand other people more too. Without Retained Reflexes and serious Auditory Processing Disorder holding me back, I’ve had the opportunity to become more emotionally and mentally more complicated than I used to be. I suppose that this might be what growing up is all about.