Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Collages, Vision and Occupational Therapy

 My occupational therapist, Wilma, doesn't believe in meaningless exercises.  She likes exercises that translate into the real world

You know, all the wonderful work that I have been doing such as tossing bean bags on balance beams, clapping or tapping my toes for 30 minutes on end, or playing computer games involving clicking on boxes in response to stimuli isn't exactly something you bring up at a cocktail party or choose to chat about with your next door neighbor.  So you do end up a little bit isolated in therapy land.   Therapy land is very pleasant but it isn't a subject of general interest.

Italiano: Collage di vari immagini di Roma.
Image via Wikipedia

So we have decided to do arts and crafts.  She suggested collage so I went out and took a collage class at the Fleisher Art Memorial.  The Fleisher is a wonderful school open to anyone with an interest in art.  I plunked along at the bottom of the class but at least I could participate in the class a lot better than I could in junior high school where I basically waited for a very miserable 45 minutes to pass.  I noticed that I was having problems with composition.  After I knew what I wanted to do, it wasn't a problem cutting and pasting the elements of the collage together or organizing my tools and materials unlike junior high school.   But I just couldn't pull a collage together reasonably quickly.  I had a lot of neat pictures but I had a lot of problems putting the neat pictures together.

In OT, Wilma and I started working on a collage of my travels in Italy.  As we worked on the collage, I spent 60% of my time with one eye patched in order to strengthen my left eye that was getting suppressed in vision therapy.   We decided that the background would be a selection of the maps of Florence, Rome, Venice and Assisi.  It's really hard to trim the maps with one eye!  Cutting takes binocular vision and the use of two eyes!  I was really glad when I could take the patch off. 

As we worked on the background, we also clipped some neat pictures that were on the maps for use later on.  Wilma noticed that I tended to get a bit overly involved with collecting some neat pictures and thinks that I have a problem with part vs whole as confirmed by the neuropsych exam at Columbia Presbyterian

I am not sure how much of this problem of part vs whole is a problem with scene gist, how much is a problem with central vs peripheral vision, or working memory.  Or, maybe we are talking about the same thing from a variety of different disciplines.

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