Tag Archives: Johansen IAS

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.

images

Advertisements

Wednesday 25th March 2015 – Honesty is not what I thought it was

Yesterday I found some text on one of the bits of old scrap paper I was using for homework. It was about first-person writing.

The main two points which had survived a printer glitch were:

  • Keep it fresh- a different perspective on life is interesting
  • Put yourself on the line- be honest and show your opinions. Writing life as you honestly see it allows the reader to really understand what you’re writing about. Openness and honesty when writing from your point of view is the only thing that matters.

This made me think.

Maybe honesty involves more than not lying.

Honest people express their opinions, even if that makes them stand out. They don’t hold back their likes and dislikes, and aren’t afraid to disagree with others and fight their corner even over small things. I admire people who are Honest in this way. They are brave.

I don’t lie often. I don’t like it. However, I’m realising that I’m further from Honest than I thought I was. I tend to reserve my opinions and contain my personality to blend in. This way I suppose, I have never really let anyone know me that well.

This is probably the reason why I have never had a fight or a proper argument a friend. Not even when I was a little kid. I would rather stay neutral then risk confrontation with anyone. I suppose that’s a habit from back when speech still seemed muddy and distorted because of my serious Auditory Processing Disorder. Any argument I had, I would have lost. And most of the time I wouldn’t have understood enough of a conversation to argue anyway. When everything seemed so unclear, I just wanted things to be as simple as possible, so why confuse and complicate things with feelings? The small stuff doesn’t matter, right? 

Since I started writing as a Case study for Johansen and MLC Scotland, (3 years ago now!) I have learned to how to listen, how to talk to other people, and how to understand others much more than I did before. A testament to this is how I write “other people” now. Often in my early diary entries I just wrote “people” and left it at that. I didn’t used to identify with others. Something which learning to understand other people comes with, is understanding yourself. I’m still learning to recognise what I think and feel, but it’s becoming easier and more automatic every day.

To improve this blog, writing from a first-person perspective, I need to include more of my own thoughts, feelings and emotions.  

Perhaps, to improve my life, I need to live more as a first-person. Living spontaneously and in-the-moment instead of delaying my reactions and searching for a “safe” response.  

The first big step forward is acting on how I feel. I don’t mean emotional responses to very clear-cut wrongs and rights, or distressing or joyful situations. What I mean is spontaneous reactions to small, everyday events. Spontaneous reactions are honest reactions. Why would I want to express my opinions about things which used to seem inconsequential, such as differing opinions with a friend on music, films or lunch choices? Now I’m wondering why would I not want to?

A huge part of being a normal human being is all the traits, likes, dislikes, loves, faults and flaws which make up you. Which makes me wonder, if I go through life not being myself, what else could I be?

Thanks to MLC and Johansen IAS therapies I have a second chance at life that very few people get. I am very, very fortunate to have this chance to fulfill my potential.

It may seem scary at first, but from now on I will do my very best to be Honest. I think that living life as myself is the only way I will discover everything that I can be. 

Friday 6th March – Nothing More Concert

Around this time three years ago, I was just beginning to hear the words in music clearly thanks to Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation therapy.

Music is what feelings sound like. I think I have always understood this. It still amazes me that sound can express emotions and make the listener empathise and feel the same thing. However until Johansen IAS therapy, I had no idea that songs had words which make the music a story as well. As someone who had always loved music, this was an incredible discovery for me. All the slurred mush and mouth noises interfering with (and as it seemed at the time, detracting from) the instrumental background started to make sense, and I realised that songs are as much about the lyrics as the tune.

Tonight I went to see a band which I love, and only heard for the first time a few months ago, Nothing More. Nothing More are amazing. Their music is a beautiful mix of melody and powerful metal, and the words to the songs are great in their own right. Another very wonderful thing about them is all the drums. Their drummer is phenomenal, and their singer also is a drummer. They have drums on stage which they hammer along with their powerful songs, and a bass solo which involves three of them playing a bass at the same time and spinning it on a stand, which is one of the most awesome thing’s I’ve ever seen and heard. Nothing More also have some of the few songs that make me cry. 

Before Johansen IAS therapy, I would have picked up on a tragic mood from hearing the instrumental parts of a song, but not understood exactly what it was about. Back then when I had serious Auditory Processing Disorder, most of the words I heard in music (and a large portion of speech I heard in general) sounded like Gibberish. Now when I hear a song I understand the story in it. Nothing More sing and play their songs with all their souls, songs with stories which come from their personal lives. Not only is their music amazing, they also use music as a form of activism. Every concert they play is an attempt to get people to stop being cogs in an increasingly corrupt system and think for themselves (MTV, Christ Copyright), never stop loving and caring for one another even when it hurts (I’ll be OK), and to fight the stigma associated with mental illness (Jenny). The song which had me nearly crying in the crowd is (God Went North), about the singer’s mother dying. Nothing More are a musical force for good, helping to save the world one concert hall at a time.     

Without Johansen IAS therapy, I would never have discovered Nothing More’s music in the first place, let alone be able to understand what it is about. Music is not only the most important thing in my life, in a way music also saved my life. 

Johansen IAS therapy music CDs strengthened sound-transmitting pathways in my brain, giving me the ability to hear speech clearly. I heard my family around the dinner table at background noise-filled birthday parties and started joining in the conversation, I made friends by joining conversations I was now able to be included in. Able to communicate with other people, I started to catch up with my age-group socially and emotionally. Sounds such as traffic came from the right directions and distances. The deafeningly loud mash of noise I heard when I was at school, the shops, in the street, dissipated and cleared like a fog lifting. I heard my own voice clearly for the first time and was startled at how it sounded different to the idea I had of my voice in my head. And I heard all the words in a song, which completely changed the course of my life. 

No longer scared of loud noises, which used to overwhelm me, I discovered my main passion, drums. 

So I thank Camilla, Johansen IAS and my family for giving me a second chance at life which I never would have had otherwise. I also thank my family’s tolerance of my decibel-heavy new interest. You are very awesome.  

I will continue this blog for as long as I can, writing about everything I learn along the way from being able to hear clearly. I hope that you find it useful and that it helps you to understand more about Auditory Processing Disorder, which (like Dyslexia) affects 10% of the world’s population. 

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.

Saturday 24th January 2014 – First atttempt at Bucket Drumming

Today was my first attempt at bucket drumming.

After a short practice in my building’s bike shed I hauled my assortment of plastic bins and buckets to The Mound. I wanted to try playing somewhere a but quieter before I attempted Bucket Drumming on The Mile. The Mound seemed empty enough, with a few people around to watch.

My set up:

Snare and Bass- red Tesco bucket with a handle

High tom-  IKEA waste bin with a pretty floral pattern

Low tom- 2 stacked Dulux pots from my uncle’s shed.

The aim of this whole enterprise was to throw myself out of my comfort zone. My logic was that if I could play buckets badly to hundreds of passing tourists, then gigs with a proper kit playing stuff I’ve learned and practiced won’t feel so scary.

I set up my buckets tried to ignore how nervous I felt, and played an improvised beat badly. I did a stick trick, started another wonky beat, dropped a stick and looked up from retrieving it to see people staring at me. I freaked out, shoved my buckets back into the IKEA bag and almost ran out of there.

Town seemed busy today, for a winter morning. After the my first Bucket Shenanigan I went back out with my flute on the Mile near the castle. I earned £2. From a man who sang along with “Flower of Scotland” out of time, key and tune, while standing too close and staring madly into my eyes. Still, that’s 2 quid.

Bucket Drumming isn’t over. It really worked at scaring me, and although my playing was very, very brief, no one heckled me or phoned the police with a noise complaint. I will try again.

Sunday 7th December – Busking

This morning I went out for some busking, with a few Christmas Carols added to my repertoire. On the Royal Mile I met Elaine. She is the world’s most pierced woman, and a lovely person. Her colourful dress, dreadlocks, glittering facepaint and of course, many piercings bring colour to the Mile even in the winter.

She gave me some advice for busking and said that she liked my playing. When she came over to chat and listen to me play, some men wanted a photo with her. She told them to give me a pound instead, because she was busy listening to me right now.

I admire her courage to be the brightest and most colourful person in the street, not afraid to look unusual or to be herself. The world needs more people like Elaine.

Gradually I’m getting to know more of the people of the Mile. There are a few human statues (you have to be on the Mile fairly early to get there before a Human Statue), Market traders with small stalls, some bagpipers, Elaine of course, and a kindly portrait artist who has helped me out with advice when I’ve been busking. Further down the Mile are Fire Jugglers, circus acts and escape artists. They are a part of the street and also a small community, and one of the things I love about Edinburgh. It’s a very different city from Glasgow, but it’s growing on me. 

Saturday 29th November 2014 – Day Off!

I took the opportunity of some energy combined with free time to fight the mould in my shower and write up this diary after an incredibly busy week.

Now that the mould kingdom is vanquished (or at least severely reduced, since it may have worked its way into the sealant) I can have a shower which actually feels clean.

One of my friends from college has a band, and I might go to see them play tonight. 

Cycled to the pub where the gig was being held. It was good to cycle. I’ve not been on my bike for a while, mainly because when I have a lack of mental energy, I do stupid things. If you want to live any considerable length, making stupid decisions in traffic is something best avoided.

My friend’s band were really good. They were like if the Beatles were into eco music and songs about plants. They had a really entertaining song about mushrooms and how they’re Fun Guys. Plant flashcards were brought out for the crowd at various points. Their drummer seemed to be their secret weapon. He drummed, played guitar, and sang, often two at the same time.

Fun night.

Friday 28th November – A Very Long Day

I didn’t go to bed last night, so today I was feeling very tired. After college yesterday I worked on assignments for today’s deadline and revised for an exam re-sit until it was time to brush my teeth and go back to college.

Before I went to the Movement and Learning Centre (MLC) Scotland I had problems with sleeping, along with anxiety and poor balance and coordination. I slept poorly for my first 16 years, but back then lack of sleep was normal for me.

Now that I’m used to sleeping normally, I found that an all-nighter put a big dent in my day.  

At class my Auditory Processing was working amazingly considering my lack of energy, and all the music I listened to last night to keep awake and focused on working. Despite everything, I could still hear clearly. That didn’t help me to look and feel  less like a zombie though.

As for my exam re-sit, I can say that it went better than the first time round. This time I knew little, rather than nothing at all.

There were other problems I encountered in my exam.

Before MLC therapy for Retained Reflexes, the root cause of my insomnia was a fully-retained Moro Reflex. This kept my body flooded with adrenaline 24/7. As well as not falling asleep for hours after going to bed, or being able to stay asleep at night, during the day, I was unable to fall asleep even when I was really tired.

My Moro Reflex gone, I no longer have that problem. I was very tired, so my body felt safe to do the sensible thing and go to sleep. Every so often, I drifted off, still sitting up in my chair, and started dreaming. I would be writing the start of a word, then finishing it with the start of a word related to wherever my mind was drifting to. Luckily my lecturer was doing marking, and not aware of every time I jerked awake and blearily corrected whatever nonsense I’d written.

Back at the flat after a very long day I had a well-deserved sleep.

Saturday 11th November- Busking

Edinburgh has a beautiful Christmas Market complete with little Merchant’s log-cabin-style huts, lights, music and fairground rides. The huge Ferris Wheel lights up and can be seen from far away. The Royal Mile and city centre was packed with tourists on royal mile so I had a quick lunch then grabbed my flute.

I played on the mile, and then near the beautiful Market, all lit up for the gloom of short winter days. There was so many people it was hard to move. I must have played to about 800 people tonight as they passed, possibly more if I included people within earshot. Something new I had to deal with was weirdos within the crowd. A man who seemed pretty inebriated was fascinated by my flute. For a few seconds he stood nose to nose with me, muttering, pressing at the keys of my flute randomly, as if trying to play a tune. I kept playing despite this, ignoring him, and he moved on. That’s the biggest distraction I’ve had to deal with so far. With so many people around, I felt that he probably wouldn’t be a threat, but this made me consider what I would do next time. It was an eye-opener that where there are lots of people, and I’m drawing attention, I sometimes might have to deal with some nutters. I realised I really need to pay more attention to the streets and keep a look out for people who might cause me trouble or try to steal my flute.                                

It was the peak of Christmas Shopping Time, people holding onto their money, and I’m not the best or most exciting busker in the world. I earned less than £5, about 5p of that from the crossing near the Market. My pitch by a road crossing probably wasn’t a good idea, people rushing past me to cross to the opposite pavement, but the other places were taken or swamped by Christmas music from the market’s speakers.  It’s still money though. And after today I’m much less scared of our second gig!  

 

Friday 21st November- Failure Cake

Last night’s trip to Glasgow to see The Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement and Nothing More at Glasgow O2 was amazing.

I revised on the homewards train, but was still not properly prepared for today’s exam. It didn’t go very well. I was tired after a busy week, and a few commutes this week to Glasgow, one for last night’s concert, the other for band practice. My hearing was a bit wonky, mainly from tiredness. I’d had a few late nights.

I take responsibility that I’ve not been 100% dedicated to my course, but there’s also my Auditory Processing difficulties. I find it very hard to learn in class, especially with long spoken lectures. Because I probably won’t retain much of what is said in class (although the fact I can actually hear what my lecturer says is a huge improvement from school) I listen hard and take really good notes. This means that I do most of my actual learning outside of college. This makes the learning process twice as long.

On really good days, I can remember some of what the lecturer says, while taking notes at the same time.

This is part of the reason I’m getting a Personal Listening Device. My hope is that with reduced background noise, and the lecturer’s voice directed into my ears, the effort will be taken out of listening and concentrating in class. Then I can take notes and learn at the same time.  Ideally I will learn more quickly, have more energy, and also have more free time out of college, not having to that day’s notes as if they are an unfamiliar topic. 

My exam did not go well. I knew barely any of the answers. Some of this I blame on my Learning Difference. For the most part though, I can only take responsibility and blame myself.

Back at the flat I sat in my room, hiding from another flat party, eating what I like to call Failure Cake. It regularly cheers me up after tests which could have gone better.

I’m always trying to improve my writing skills for this blog, so here is a Haiku of how I felt.

Passed exam unlikely

Eat defrosted Failure Cake

Rock concert worth it.