Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Clap On! I'm starting the Interactive Metronome

Clap!Clap! # 4Image by Shae -- not the butter! via Flickr
Well, I've just started the Interactive Metronome.  If you remember from my previous posts this means getting hooked up to a computer and clapping my hands and tapping my feet to a computer generated cow bell.  My instructor for this is Ann, who used to dance.  I'm hoping to inspire her to go back to it... she misses it so.

Interactive metronome helps with motor coordination binding.   Balance and coordination are the number one comorbidity associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  You must know what position your body is in and where our body is in space. Where your joints are, how fast your muscles or moving and where you are in relation to gravity are all important inputs that drive brain activity. And you've got to be able to synch all of this together.  I never thought of it but apparently,  the same pathways and circuits that smooth and coordinate movements also smooth and coordinate thoughts.   This is why research studies have been finding positive outcomes (ie good results)  a variety of diseases: aphasia, apraxia, coordination/movement disorders, TBI, CP, Parkinson’s disease, stroke/CVA, Down’s syndrome, and ADHD.  If you want to get down in the weeds and read all the scientific stuff on IM, see the blog Tic Toc Talk.   Although one thing to note, is that the author has been a consultant for IM.

That being said, both the Main Stream  Medicine and many Alternative Practioner's, including DAN! doctors, believe in Interactive Metronome.  So you aren't caught in a medical cross fire between competing schools! My audiologist, who is on the Main Stream Medicine side of the fence likes it and the more holistic practitioners like it too.

Another interesting rumor is that there is a clinical trial of IM at Walter Reed to study the effects of IM on PTSD's effects on cognition.  PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) affects people both emotionally and cognitively.  I think this may also be very interesting to think about with folks who have learning and other disabilities.  These disabilities do not exist in a vacuum but in a social context as well.  People with disabilities are often bullied and have the lingering effects of trauma. 

At any rate, back on the ranch with my therapy.  Gosh... I really anticipate the beat.  We are trying to get me to clap in bigger circles to slow me down a bit.  Sometimes Ann takes my hands and we clap together.   I just don't get in sync with the beat.

The Interactive Metronome is set to 54 beats/minute... about the same as a heart beat.  At home, I have the emWave so I tried using that.  The emWave is an interesting device that registers your heart rate as you breath in sync to a little bar that goes up and down.  When you get your breath in synch with your heart rate and you are in a happy mental place (they say to smile when you do this), you get happy little chimes playing.   Unfortunately, I have no luck with the emWave these days as I am way too tired to get my self in sync.  Usually, it is a nice little device to relax yourself.  Originally, I got it for my husband and his blood pressure.  It helped get him relaxed and dropped the blood pressure on stressful days.  However, we find that it doesn't work too well when you are really tired.  We both found it does take some mental effort.

So, I did a little yoga before I went to the IM sesssion.  I don't know how much it helped.

Today, we did our usual routine but this time, I asked Ann if she knew any songs I could sing to the beat.   It is no good counting.  I have tried while playing musical instruments but have had no luck staying on the beat.  I tried feeling the beat.  No luck either.  We worked with "guide tones" that signaled when I was ahead, behind or on the beat.  She also adjusted the program to automatically reset to my level of skill.   I improved a little.  So we tried singing the kiddie song, "ABC", and that helped a lot.  You really don't want to verbalize with the IM as you are supposed to be wiring your hearing to your motor skills directly.   But, I am all YAP and I verbalize to overcome different deficits like synching up motor skills.  So I spent a whole hour singing Abcdefg.  I think we will be singing for the next few sessions singing.  Somehow, I get the feeling that Ann will be coming up with new songs.    If anyone else has any ideas for any other songs at 54 beats a minute in 2/4 time, let us know before we both end up in the funny farm.

I am really exhausted from IM.  I wanted to start crying in the middle of it.  When I go home, I go right to bed and sleep for a few hours.   The funny thing is that I am starting to relive certain events from my childhood.

I told Ann about my ballet teacher in high school.  She had come from the Royal Spanish Ballet and was an old school, very strict teacher.  We could choose the sports we wanted to take so I had chosen ballet because I didn't like sports and thought ballet would be easy.  Boy was I wrong.  She was very picky and more than one girl started crying in class.  I wanted to cry too.  With my motor apraxia (fancy name for clumsiness) and inability to keep on the beat, I was constantly off.  She would count: Plie, press up. Plie, press up.  Grand Plie.   I'd be pressing up while the rest of the class was pressing down.  When it came time to Grand Plie, I'd be down near the floor struggling to press up into a standing position when everyone else was standing upright.

On another note, I saw Melissa, my occupational therapist from the previous session on Tomatis.  She is looking good.  She is losing weight, too. We are joking about seeing who is going to be the biggest loser.

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