Friday, April 20, 2012

I Get a Present!!!

My occupational therapist and I have been pondering my difficulties with organizing a collage.  Or any piece of art work for that matter.  My suspicion is that learning some higher order visual cognition involved in visual composition is going to have some overflow effects on high order thinking and reasoning as well as providing an opportunity to do some near work with an eye patch.

Wilma has informed me that there is no published evidence to support my suspicion although she does find some merit in it.  I retorted that nobody is interested in funding research on  art therapy in the neurosciences; art therapy and neuroscience research is a poor step child of academia and insurance companies really don't want to pay for art therapy.  So, you may find small clinical studies done by an individual practitioner; but not the large scale, multi-year, double blind studies that give weight to clinical observations.   I think big institutions just don't like to fund FUN.  God forbid, the patient actually enjoys what they are doing!  If, however, we wrapped up the steps we are doing to create a collage in a bunch of jargon and then did it in such a mechanical way as to bore the heck out of both practitioner and patient ( if it was outright painful or onerous to the patient so much the better), we might get funding!  Yup.  Then practitioners wonder why patients drop out!!!  Why is compliance such an issue?  Sigh.    Never mind looking at the lessons from Positive Psychology about flow and creating an optimal state of peak performance!   Or even doing real life activities that have therapeutic benefit. Wilma sympathized and we had a good laugh about it.  Anyhow, rant over....

I am not sure how much is a cognitive problem with the executive function needed for organization or how much is a problem with visual organization per se. Or just, a simple matter of a poorly developed neurological components of  vision coupled with some problems in motor planning.

I can organize other material.  When I write professionally (unlike this blog!!), I can create nicely structured compositions.   I did go to a school which was written up in Newsweek for its English composition program.  We had to write 100 word compositions every night  for 2/3 of a school year.  Well, I can tell you that at times, I ran out of topics and my originality fell by the wayside and wrote some well-structured but lame compositions; but I did master the art of writing.

Unfortunately, I really could not participate in art class.  My motor planning skills were so poor that I could not collect up my materials and arrange them in the amount of allotted class time.  I was so clumsy that I often spilt or misapplied my materials in the wrong order.   My art work was very poorly composed conceptually as well.  In fact, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to organize the piece that I ran out of time to actually do it.   So I spent my 45 minutes of art class much like the boy looking at the clock in the famous Doisneau picture.  It's a great pity.  I had the opportunity to take either an art class taught by someone who worked in Georges Braque's studio or music.  As much as I like art and as great as that opportunity to work with someone with such an illustrious pedigree,  I opted for music where I had a fighting chance even with auditory processing problems.

Nowadays, my motor planning problems are pretty much at bay.  I can think about what a task involves and collect up the materials to do it, OK.   However, I am still stuck with lousy composition.  I had thought about digging up an art book on the rules of composition; but I wasn't sure if that was the way to go about it.   Much of this great journey through the cortex involves increasing perception. A lot of times in the past, I would look at a rule set and then try and follow it (using cognition) rather than looking at something and then just doing it (perception).

I wasn't sure which strategy to follow so I asked Wilma what to do.  She said she had another idea--in fact, she had a present for me.  She said she thinked I would like it.

Oh goody!  I like presents!  So I held off on thinking about my problems with composition and waited for my next appointment.

When I showed up to my next appointment, Wilma gave me her present. an artist who also teaches art.   She described my problems with composition and he had volunteered to help her out.   He happened to have the week off.  So it was all very convenient.

He had also had a learning disability as well, but his was linguistic as opposed to my visual problems.  However, he had gone on to be a relatively successful artist.

So we sat down and talked about composition and color. 

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