Friday, August 10, 2012

Forest for the Trees?

iGoodbye blackberry way
iGoodbye blackberry way (Photo credit: green-dinosaur)
Changes in Thinking Due to Vision Therapy?

Most surprising to me was that the change in my vision affected the way that I thought. I had always seen and reasoned in a step-by-step manner. I saw with one eye and then the other. When entering a crowded room, I would search for a friend by looking at one face, then the next. I didn't know how to take in the whole room and its occupants in one glance. While lecturing in class I always spoke about A causing B causing C. Until I watched my children grow up, I had assumed that seing the details and understanding the big picture were separate processes. Only after I learned the details could I add them up together in the whole. I could not, as the saying goes, see the forest for the trees. But my kids seemed to be able to do both at the same time.
 From Sue Berry in Fixing My Gaze

I am starting to wonder about some higher level functioning.  For the past month, I have been taking a bit of a vacation from my eyes.  No exercises at all.  I am going to be starting another round of Cellfield in two weeks and that will definitely kick my tail.  So I am taking a break from everything except some OT.   

However, the neurons keep weaving while I am otherwise occupied.  I have noticed that periodically I am "taking in everything at once".  While I was driving, I had stopped at a red light at a four way crossroad and suddenly I noticed that I was at a corner with a Luk Oil gas station on one side of the street and a store on the other side.  Now, I have stopped at this corner multiple times and it is only know that I am processing it as a "corner" and not as some buildings.  I have noticed that cars pulling out of the wooded little road leading into the George School are lined up in a curve leading into the school.  Also, when I am driving somehow I am more aware of relationships between objects in the scenery around me.   I feel like my thought process is somehow changing.   So, what's going on here?  

I remember my neuropsych exam with the drawing in the middle of the grid. This test is trying to measure Gestalt (overview) vs local processing.  I managed to copy the drawing correctly but very painfully.  The evaluator noticed my difficulties drawing and gave me a score of WNL (within normal limits) but disordered.  I have been chalking that score up to my really lousy drawing skills and the compensations that I had learned in art class.   Some of this theory has been validated in vision assessment:  I have had really lousy eye tracking skills and higher so that does translate to lousy copying skills.  Additionally, I have problems in visual memory that are not completely resolved.  I did go from a 9% on VTRS to 85% on visual memory; but I recently flunked a visual memory portion where sequencing was factored in:  I remembered everything correctly, but in the wrong order.  I wonder how much of the global vs local processing is really a function of memory.  I just don't have the space to stuff things into when I want to process.  

At work, I am an excellent diagnostician and can catch a lot of problems by paying attention to detail and using a very linear thought process like Sue Barry:  "A causing B causing C".  I also am good at following written instructions (something that can bollux other people--you can write instructions for them but they really want you to explain steps to them instead of reading it).  

However, I am also good at creating new frameworks and architectures-- typically gestalt functions.  Sometimes, I do it in a bottom up approach (local processing) but other times, there is just a flash of insight and I can pull together all the pieces in a very disorganized project.  Other times, I can just organize things nicely from a preconceived notion.  I have organized projects where many other people were floundering.   Go figure.  

In high school at Phillips Academy, we were taught American and European History by understanding tends and causality--not the usual memorization of dates and facts.  I did really well in history.  We were taught to generalize and compare events and societies across culture and time.  So, I am wondering that because I received a fantastic education with absolutely marvelous teachers that I learned how to compensate for Non-Verbal Learning Disability; or, whether the whole thing was never that much of an issue for me.  

I am really good with working with diagrams and illustrations and this is how I learn things that are really complicated.  In fact, if I don't have an overall schema as to how things fit together, I work to create one. 

Also, I am wondering about how much I am influenced by the coursework that I have been doing with art.  I wonder how much of that is influencing my ability to process in a more global fashion.  There is a lot of linkage between art gestalt processing. 

On the other hand, sometimes writing a conclusion to an essay is a bit hard for me.  Maybe you have noticed this in my writings in this blog!  I am being a bit lazy in writing my blog--because it is not for publication and it is more important to get things down on "paper".  But it is a tendency that I have noticed.  When I write formally, I know i have to do it because I was trained that way.  However, lately, I am noticing that I am writing more fluidly.  

Other people have noticed the same thing over at Sovoto discussion on Neuro and visual differences resulting from Strabismus.  I guess people like me are grappling with visual issues and Non-Verbal Learning Disability (although they are not calling it that).  

I feel that I am still a bit of a "work in progress" and that there are going to be changes in the way I view things.  If my Gentle Readers recall my visual journey until now has been focused (haha) on noticing more details in objects around me, and now, maybe, the journey is shifting to noticing to a more global view of the world, a world of scenes composed of objects with relationships.  
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