Saturday, May 28, 2011

Next Steps for Fine Motor Skills

Saw Dr. Osterman and had an EMG.  As expected, the EMG showed nothing wrong.  The good Doctor said that there's no medicine nor shots that would help me out.  According to him, I am on the cutting edge of dealing with autism spectrum disorder and fine motor skills. U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan (Apr. 9, ...Image via Wikipedia

So we agreed that I needed Occupational Therapy for Activities of Daily Living and he gave me a referral to someone who works with musicians.  This last recommendation is what I was really looking to get from him.  I find getting in a network of "good people" is the quickest way to solve problems and I am hoping to find a good OT.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Cognitive Rehab in Schizophrenia: Can this help Developmental Disorders?

Can Cognitive Research in Schizophrenia help cognitive disorders for developmental disorders?

Interesting article about Cognitive Rehab for Schizophrenia makes me wonder how much of this is transferable to cognitive problems for autism and adhd. I know that there is a clinical trial of xxx for autism at the University of Pittsburg. The article below includes cognitive training, computer based training, and compensatory strategies such as Errorless learning (EL) and cognitive adaptation training (CAT). SchizophreniaImage via Wikipedia

Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET), developed by Hogarty and colleagues,38 includes small-group sessions that emphasize social cognition.

Neurocognitive enhancement therapy (NET), a program that was developed by Bell and colleagues,39 pairs a drill and practice style computerized CR with vocational rehabilitation programs.

EL aims to eliminate any errors when new tasks are being learned. This approach reduces each new task to be learned into small component parts that are then overlearned through “imitative learning and repetitive practice of perfect task execution.”

CAT introduces environmental adaptations that are suited specifically to the executive impairments common among schizophrenia patients. Its aim is to reduce the cognitive burdens, functional requirements, and overall stress of everyday living in each patient’s personal space.29
During home visits, CAT therapists check for safety hazards and ensure that necessary supplies are available. The therapists may also assist in modifying and reorganizing the home in a manner customized to the individual patient’s needs. For example, in the bedroom, clothing drawers are labeled and colored bins are used for the sorting of dirty and clean clothes. In the bathroom, grooming supplies are moved to be more easily accessible and pill containers are introduced to organize medications. In addition, patients can be trained to use watches or other devices with alarms to cue themselves to take medications and complete other tasks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Five Ways to Channel Your Inner Millionaire

 "But the PFC (prefrontal Cortex) must be coaxed into action. Vanderbilt University management professor Richard Daft says that the average human spends only about 2 percent to 10 percent of their time each day using the executive brain. The vast majority of our time is spent reacting reflexively, just like the other animals on the planet.Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt.Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to landing your next big deal, which frame of mind do you think would be your better asset?"

So we really aren't making our spending most of our time using our higher order functions?  Just acting reflexively  like Pavlov's dog?  Interesting.

Five Ways to Channel Your Inner Millionaire - Business - Small business - -

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Usagi and Non Verbal Learning Disorder

Found an interesting little discussion about Usagi from the Japanese Anime, Sailor Moon and a layman's diagnosis of Non Verbal Learning Disorder The cover of the first volume of Sailor Moon a...Image via Wikipedia

With fine motor skills, Usagi has a lot of difficulty doing arts and crafts and making things, the bunny she made for Chibi-Usa, making the promise ring bracelet, Usagi also drops and spills objects often and has messy drawing, Usagi spilled Mamoru’s treat and often spills things.

With gross motor skills, Usagi has balance problems and trips and falls a lot, Usagi had difficulty ice skating and often trips.

With visual-spatial skills, Usagi often bumps into people and things, gets lost and has a poor sense of direction, stated in episode 50, trips over things, has difficulty with hand eye coordination (episode 50) and has difficulty with visual motor coordination and is seen at klutzy.

With executive function, Usagi is often late and forgets things, dropping the moon wand and things like that.

With emotional maturity, Usagi often acts younger than her age.

With social skills, Usagi often says random things that others find strange, confusing or obvious and can act silly and often says and does things that are not appropriate to the situation.

Usagi is naïve and trusting and has a good heart.

Usagi also often daydreams and has organization troubles.

The writer continues to discuss her feelings about Non-Verbal Learning disorder  (NLD) as it applies to herself.  However, other people chime in and point out the difficulty of diagnosing NLD as a non professional.
Usagi from Sailor Moon

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Crash, Boom, Bang: An Accident Leads to a Massive Attack of Executive Function

One night, my husband and I were woken up by a big crash.  Something went Bang in the middle of the night.  At the time, we thought it was a tree branch banging on our roof.  We had a number of tree limbs cut away from our house and there is still one tree with some branches that bang around on a windy day.   So we just rolled over and went back to sleep.A wall closet in a residential house in the Un...Wall Closet Image via Wikipedia

The next morning, I woke up and the bar in my closet that holds up my clothes had fallen down and all my clothes were in a heap on the floor.  Apparently, all my clothes pony activities coupled with cleaning up the downstairs closet led to this disaster.  My executive function went into overdrive and started to push the  frontal lobes of my brain to plan and organize my winter coats by moving them upstairs since they were no longer needed.   I think there was just too much weight on the bar and that caused the bar to bend and collapse.

Fixing this mess was not easy and necessitated a replacement of the top shelf and the bar.  So, on the weekend, hubby decided to indulge his spouse with a bit of wife porn and actually do a house chore without nagging.   I fed his ego and told him how attractive he looked wielding a hammer and screw driver.  So that got me a new shelf.

I also reorganized my closet and am grouping my clothes so that spring/summer clothes are easy to get at and clothes are organized by color.  I have been on a major organizational kick and was planning to do this room later on this year. I figured one project at a time, one room at a time.    But, I guess this room gets organized first.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

I went to see another neuropsychologist regarding social skills training.  My first thought about this was, well, I am just following orders.  I was told to see someone like this... that it is the most important thing and so I should do it.  So off I go, like a reluctant schoolgirl.  Yet another therapist.... blah... blah... blah.
AnticipationImage via Wikipedia
However, I am glad I did.  Dr. C was pretty nice about the whole thing.  It turns out her nephew has Aspergers so she was able to see the positive side of things.  She thinks I have something along the lines of being on the Autistic Spectrum in a mild way.  Her take on it is that there is a definite there there with the discrepancy of verbal/nonverbal IQ scores.  She sees the Autistic Spectrum as having a unique set of gifts as well as challenges.  So this finding was much easier to digest than my previous neuropsych evals which left me pretty depressed. 

However, she is not sure about the scoring of the neuropsych eval that I got from Columbia-Presbyterian.  They did not get the date of my birth correct.  The birth date on my report was 8 years younger than what I am.  So all my scores have ranked against younger cohort!  This will impact my assessment.  For example,  I am probably much smarter !  Ha Ha!  What will I do with this extra brain power!  Also, the memory scores may be improved as well  (more on this later).  So I am going to call up Columbia Presbyterian and get them to recalibrate my test scores.

We talked about social skills and problems in general.  She had a pretty well rounded view of what can happen with someone with an Aspergers' profile and the stresses of middle aged women.   

We talked a bit about me living in Europe and Asia and the challenges of adjusting to another culture.  I forgot to tell her that at the beginning of living in another country when I didn't understand the language, I would really have to key in on nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language.

Another interesting note is that she runs across a number of Aspergers men who gravitate towards Asian women.  Some of this is the "blunt affect" of Aspergers finding a home in a culture where expression of emotions are tamped down on.

Finally, she gave me the eye expression test developed by Simon Baron-Cohen.  This test shows a series of eyes with four possible emotions and you are invited to pick the correct emotion.  It is a hard test.  A lot of normal  people miss about 10.   Apparently, people with Aspergers (Aspies as they nick name themselves) have real problems with recognizing faces.  Some can't even remember someone whom they have just met.  Aspies miss between 16 and 28.  I missed 14.  So I guess I am borderline.

We talked a little bit about work and I explained that working in a cubicle is physically very uncomfortable for me.   She doesn't know who designed these things and I said that it was probably some genius over at Wharton who was trying to increase collaboration in the workplace.

Dr C. thinks I would be a candidate for social skills training.  We would look at movies with the sound off and study body language and facial expression.  I think she might also do some cognitive based therapy as well.

There is another twist to the story.  I told Dr. C. that I tend to lip read a bit and that I am working with an audiologist on improving my hearing.  I explained that there was some question as to whether my problem is an auditory problem or a working memory (short term memory)  problem.  She explained that it was important to get this straightened out as it would impact how she would explain things to me.  (For my gentle readers who are new to my story.  I got started on this particular adventure when my audiologist asked me to see a neuropsychologist regarding working memory.  She thinks some of my hearing problems may not be auditory but working memory problems).  Depending on the exact nature of the disorder, she would make a special effort to speak in a way that would help me understand better.  For example, it could be repeating important points exactly or it could mean rephrasing important points.  Different hearing problems or memory issues would indicate a different type of communication.

At any rate, it would be a good thing to, at least, understand the issues of auditory processing vs working memory before trying any social skills therapy.  So back to my audiologist to get some sort of read on this problem.  Also, a call to Columbia to try and straighten out the original neuropsych assessment.

Well. I've definitely fallen down the rabbit hole here.  Do I buy this diagnosis or not?   Stay tuned.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stuff is Poppin' Out All Over

Well, 5 days after my last vision therapy appointment and the world is poppin' out all over.  I see trees and buildings "Popped Out" .... as in, I am no longer living in flat land.  This is really great news as my vision has expanded to way beyond stuff just poppin out at me.  My field of view is much greater and I can see further down the road. My peripheral vision is also a lot better too.

So, I have been gawking all over the place.  Took a walk around Newtown and Doylestown just to admire the sites.

My sense of smell is also improving.  So, I can smell a lot of the flowers around us... also, that "green" scent of plants.  When I walk in an independent book store, I can smell the resiny smell of book glue and book binding.  As I walk by a handcrafted furniture store, the scent of wood varnish wafts out the door.

I feel like I am stepping into the world.  That I am part of a greater, living,  whole.

It's pretty neat. 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smell, Memory and My Big Fat Honkingly Large Neuron

A single interneuron controls activity adaptively in 50,000 neurons, enabling consistently sparse codes for odors. 
The brain is a coding machine: it translates physical inputs from the world into visual, olfactory, auditory, tactile perceptions via the mysterious language of its and the networks which they form. Neural codes could in principle take many forms, but in regions forming bottlenecks for information flow (e.g., the ) or in areas important for memory, sparse codes are highly desirable. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt have now discovered a single neuron in the brain of that enables the adaptive regulation of sparseness in olfactory codes. This single giant interneuron tracks in real time the activity of several tens of thousands of neurons in an olfactory centre and feeds inhibition back onto all of them, so as to maintain their collective output within an appropriately sparse regime. In this way, representation sparseness remains steady as input intensity or complexity varies.

A giant interneuron for sparse coding

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Make Your Day Planner A Life Planner

Lots of Good Tips on How to Use a Day Planner.

Been there? Done that? Lost a dozen? Using a day planner one of the most essential coping skills that a woman with ADD can develop, but it's one that you need to practice and develop. Actually, using a dayplanner is not a single skill, but involves a set of skills that can be worked on, one-by-one. 

1. Learn to have it with you at ALL times. 
2. Write EVERYTHING in your day planner.

3. Learn the difference between a "to-do" list and a daily action plan. A "to do" list is a long list of action items.
4. Learn to become a better time estimator.
5. Learn to Plan for Contingencies. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

How Do You See the Color Copper?

At some point, I dearly want to go back to painting.  I have a bunch of stuff to do as I am also on a major organizing kick.  You know, using the old prefrontal cortex.  Executive Function.  Organizing.   After I organize myself, I want to live life.  You know the feeling.  Onto real life.

“There is no blue without yellow and without o...Image by katerha via FlickrAlso, what's the point of all this vision therapy if you don't actually use your new eyes.  I am getting very interested in color  and being able to manipulate color.  Color is easy for me to do as I can paint without fine motor skills.  Color is a very analytical skill.  Kind of the right-brained side of painting as opposed to the left brain side.

I saw one girl in my art class paint a very interesting composition with copper, bronze and gold squares and brush strokes.  So it got me pondering on how I could mix color better and,  in the process,
I found a very interesting blog post on seeing the color copper:

"While I was away a good question came through the comments section….”How do you mix the color of copper with three primary colors?”  Variations of the question also come up in my still life painting classes.  How do you mix silver or gold?  I love such questions because they provide an opportunity to engage the student on “developing their powers of observation”.  It’s not a matter of having a recipe; it’s a matter of observing well and applying the thought process described in previous posts.

The simple answer is: We don’t mix a color called copper.   Instead we observe the subject carefully in terms of the colors on the color wheel.  Remove the word copper from your lexicon.  The lit side of a copper object can be thought of as some version of orange (hue).  Your job is to determine by observation it’s value relative to gray-scale, it’s chroma (pure or neutral), and it’s relative temperature (does it lean towards yellow or red).  The shadow side of copper object also has color which relates to the color wheel.  It is not a darker version of the lit side.  Here awareness of the light source’s temperature can help.  Seen in cool natural light as from a north facing window the axiom cool light – warm shadows will apply.  The shadow will probably appear warm, that is well into the red side of blue.  It’ s hue will be in the purple range.  As you did for the lit side,  determine by observation, the shadow’s value relative to gray-scale, chroma and temperature.  The axiom gives a clue but we  rely on our powers of observation.   For the same object seen in a warm artificial light, the axiom is reversed.  It’s warm light – cool shadows.  In this case you would likely see more blue in the shadow.  Determine by observation: value, hue, chroma and temperature....

A color wheel with 5° hue intervals.Image via WikipediaThere is such a thing as proper technique for looking at color.  Good technique includes: keeping your eyes moving to avoid staring into the passage, using peripheral vision and turning your head upside down thereby shifting focus from what objects are to how they look in terms of color.  The usual mistake is staring intently at the passage.  This is quite a natural thing to do but we must train ourselves to avoid it.  When we stare into the passage our cones and rods are bombarded with information to the point our brains are not able to decipher it."

However, it dawned on me  that what the author of this post, Robert Simone, is talking about is really perceptual principles that can be applied to other senses and arts:  such as hearing music, smelling scents, and tasting food.  I haven't worked out what this can mean for proprioception and tactile senses but somehow I am sure that it is there.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Music Therapy with Indian Carnatic Music: Ragas to Cure Sleeping Disorders

I am getting interested in therapeutic aspects of music, especially non-Western music.  Other cultures have used music in spas where physicians would prescribe music according to the illness.  I don't know if these claims are true but surely there is some merit in creating a healing environment.

I think it would be very interesting to combine the practice of pranayama (breath control) with a raga just to see what would happen.

Image for the Purandara Dasa page.Image via Wikipedia
 "Music therapy with Indian Carnatic music is proved to be curing illnesses such as headaches, asthma, digestive tract problems, hyperactivity, arthritis, depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders. Music therapists concluded from researches that certain ragas in Indian carnatic music are capable of curing these illnesses, if listened at a particular time for a fixed period.

Melakarta is a collection of fundamental ragas...Melakarta image of raga scalesImage via Wikipedia
Ragas: Carnatic music is a form of south Indian classical music.Ragas are referred to the melodic mode derived from the combination of seven musical notes (Sa,ri,ga,ma,pa,dha,ni) rendered in classical Music. Music therapists with the help of great musicians have segmented these ragas as night ragas, day ragas and afternoon ragas to make them more effective on patients."

Music Therapy with Indian Carnatic Music: Ragas to Cure Sleeping Disorders:
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vision Therapy: Bionic Diopters

Marianne and I have been working on vision therapy in space.  We have been running the HTS system with a projector that projects the computer to the wall.  We are working on base-in (converging the eyes) and base-out (diverging the eyes).
  My base-ins weren't so good this time.  However, I did the base-out's where the eyes diverge  and got 34 diopters which is supposed to be phenomenally good.   Marianne has said that in 20 years of doing vision therapy she hasn't seen anything like this.  She says that it is even better than her own eyes!  And she thinks she has pretty good binocularity ( vision in which both eyes are used together. )
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