My day started with a grocery shop. Sadly, my usual fish fingers are no longer in stock. A shiny new budget-friendly box is filling my freezer drawer with anticipation. Something I’m really looking forward to is a visit from the awesome French branch of my family tree. So today I watched an episode of Chuck in French with French subtitles.
Despite the fact that listening is a weak area for me because of my Auditory Processing difficulties, I enjoy learning different languages. My favourite language is music. Music is a universal language because whoever’s listening- no matter what their spoken language is- can enjoy and empathise with the mood the music sets. Kind of like that TV show, The Clangers. Many people from different cultures claimed that the Clangers were actually speaking their language (or so I have heard). The Clangers speak Clanger. But like music, Clanger has a similarity to human speech. The adorable moon-dwelling mouse-creatures don’t use identifiable words, but somehow their language of squeaks and whistles still makes a lot of sense to their human watchers.
Although for my first 16 years or so, I couldn’t hear speech as clearly as most people because of serious Auditory Processing Disorder, I have always loved music. It’s a language which I understand. Although my social skills lagged behind since spoken nuances and hints were lost in a sea of gibberish and background noise, I could pick up a tune by ear really quickly. On my flute I learned to play music with an emotional maturity which socially I completely lacked. The way I played and the way I spoke completely didn’t match up. Then after Johansen IAS therapy my hearing cleared up enough to hear song lyrics, and I discovered an amazing combination of languages- music with words! After that my life was changed forever.
I’ve read somewhere that children who listen to music or learn an instrument can improve learning skills and strengthen listening ability. My parents played lots of music in our house when I was young whether it was Gypsy Kings (my mum) or Nirvana (my dad). Listening to music from an early age even just in the background probably gave me an edge against my Auditory Processing Disorder which I wouldn’t otherwise have had.
I think that a lot of kids who struggle in some way with communication, in whatever form and for whatever reason, would really benefit from learning to play an instrument. It’s a way to express your feelings without using conventional spoken language. Like a fingerprint, music is unique to the individual it comes from. Personalities shine through, and listeners who make strong first impressions of people on face value ( *The Fish Finger Conundrum again!* ) may be surprised by what they hear.
*The Fish Finger Conundrum- Monday 20th October 2014*
Due to unfortunate exam-related circumstances and the fact that any vaguely maths-related homework is not my friend, blog entries have recently been few and far between. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have the time to post a backlog of stuff. I hope you enjoyed this post. =)
Today I had a chance to work on The Gibberish Dictionary eBook project again.
Reading my diary from two years ago (when I was still going through Johansen IAS Therapy for serious Auditory Processing Disorder) was an eye-opener to how amazing my life is now. I had almost forgotten how poor my sound processing was. I could barely cross roads safely because the deafening, distorted, misplaced traffic sounds I heard clashed with my synaesthesia. I couldn’t hear the words in songs- slurred mouth-noises with the odd understandable words in between were swamped by mushy instrumental backgrounds. Because of this, all the music I love now was uninteresting to me. Some sounds were painful and overwhelming. I couldn’t cope for long in busy environments such as town centres, or even my local supermarket when it was busy. I couldn’t sing anything in pitch because I couldn’t hear my voice properly. My listening skills (and consequentially my social skills) were so poor I could barely hold a conversation. This makes me glad that I kept a record of the massive improvements to my hearing. Not just because the diary may be a useful case study for other people, but because I had been starting to take my amazing new life for granted.
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.
Checking my emails, I found the first ever post in the Forum page, which just made my week!
Also, I have an interview on Sunday for a job at the local pet shop.
Tomorrow is my first exam in British Sign Language Level 1.
Life is exciting.
This is the first day of my blog. Very excited and will start some real posts soon! Thank you to everyone who’s visited so far. =)