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Emotional and Learning Strategies
As I began relearning things, I found success in some areas if I could put a lot of effort into dealing with the problem. For instance, if I ran on a daily basis, some of my coordination would return. This was evidenced by the fact that my gait would be smoother. If I ran twice a day, this coordinated stride would exist even to a higher degree.
As I progressed, I found a high degree of success in most verbal-based subjects in a similar way. Following a regimen of rewriting my notes shortly after class, quizzing myself on the notes, putting the notes on flipcards in the form of a question and answer paradigm, and then mnemonically illustrating this information on the flipcards helped me find much success with verbal data. Coloring my depiction's and making use of a tape recorder helped too, as did reading the course material in advance of the term. Utilizing this study procedure enabled me to attain perfect scores many times and consistently positioned me in the running for the highest class average.
However, using this method did not guarantee near-sterling marks in the verbal area. If, for instance, the professor imparted a sizable amount of information to the class on the day immediately preceding exam day, I would experience significant difficulty in trying to learn this new material by then. This was (and still is) because I don't process information that quickly.
Regarding visual-based subjects, using this method helped me very much in areas where limited recall was needed (such as knowing a few equations), but not otherwise. For instance, my performance was very dismal in my calculus and chemistry classes. My performance in other visual-related classes - such as computer language classes, especially FORTRAN - also proved to be very dismal. Progress was very slow and limited in my higher math classes too, since my visual memory was so damaged.
In the area of dealing with emotional control, a degree of success was found as I learned to change the focus of my attention from what's aggravating me to a positive, substantive area. For instance, if I become incensed by someone's insensitive words towards me, I can switch my attention to one of my goals in an organization I'm involved with. This calms my mind. I can then ask myself if getting upset over these words (or anything else) will help me attain this goal. Others can help me too by cueing me when I become upset. Audible reminders such as clapping of the hands serve as effective attention grabbers and help me focus again on positive thoughts. This same method can be utilized when I become upset by visual over-stimulation, too.
The biggest area of problems for me exists in the social realm. These situations are not something one can usually study a lot for, and they are not structured. My recall - especially my visual recall - is very limited. I do not remember what took place, and even sometimes who was involved in it. My recall for words isn't the best, and I tend to misinterpret and distort what is said, too. In addition, I usually get very little feedback regarding the social blunders I commit, so I rarely know what gaffe I've made. And when someone does take the time to inform me of my miscues after a few days, I only vaguely remember it, if at all. To top it off, if I'm not in the best frame of mind, or if any of my faux pas are not brought up in a gentle and caring manner by the informer, I have difficulty responding appropriately to or even remembering - this person's words.
Since I met some success as a result of my diligently pursuing my athletic and academic interests, it was my (misconceived) understanding that this was the method to follow when trying to form relationships with women. My dating experience was very limited before the injury, so I had very little pre-morbid memory of what to do in this area. My post-morbid memory problems, trouble with unstructured events and excitability all compounded the difficulties. Furthermore, advice given to me by those close to me didn't help much either. It seemed as if it went in one ear and out the other since I wasn't able to relate to what they were saying. This continues to be a difficult area for me.
A new beginning is underway though, as I recently changed jobs. That has settled me down quite a bit, emotionally. At my previous job as a Rehabilitation Counselor, I had a wide array of responsibilities: This included managing a TBI case load of over 30 clients, writing plans, taking care of some administrative duties, plus handling unscheduled activities on a daily basis. Handling these affairs in a timely manner was very difficult.
At my new job, my areas of responsibility are much narrower and not so time critical. Specifically, I speak to people about brain injury and spinal cord injury prevention. I also work with a much smaller, homogenous caseload on a much more frequent basis. The future projects me as holding Job Club classes as well as conducting Peer Support Groups.
In addition, my current supervisor is a registered nurse who has a good bit of experience working with persons with brain injury. Consequently, she understands me a lot better than most people. I can sense that she really cares for me as a person. (Much of this undoubtedly has to do with the fact I'm satisfied with the job content and that I get to see her many times a day). She has helped me deal with my deficiencies in social and work settings. For instance, she's given me direction on how to meet people, what to talk about during this time, and how to build relationships. This is particularly important to me (and to a person with a brain injury), since I do not pick up social cues well from others.
My training in Toastmasters, an international communications program, is also giving me assistance in dealing with others. In this organization, I have received "hands-on" training in speaking, evaluating, and conducting meetings, to name a few areas. Concerning speaking, I have gained experience in delivering speeches which entertain, inform, and tell stories. The positive feedback I have received has assisted me in becoming a better communicator. Thanks in part to my fellow club members, I am an Able Toastmaster (ATM), having successfully given 30 manual speeches. My next goal is to become an ATM Bronze (45 manual speeches).
I'm currently working on Interpersonal Communication speeches. This is an aspect of my life where major deficiencies exist. Speech topics in this area include Conversing With Ease, Handling Criticism Effectively, and Asserting Yourself Effectively among others. Preparing for and delivering speeches requires extra time and effort, but it (plus the feedback I receive shortly after the speech) gives me positive experience in this area. That, in turn, gives me confidence in dealing with other people in a wide variety of situations. With my present job (plus my former jobs with the state and federal governments) and my involvement in positive programs such as Toastmasters, I feel very blessed and look forward to tomorrow.
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