modify the process, not the outcome: assessment results . . . and hope.

i’ve got scars i’m willing to show you / you had heart that i’ll never see / she had answers to all the wrong questions /  it’s funny, these answers are all that i need.

[…] we end up regretting the things we don’t try.

caldecott tunnel, something corporate

Multiple times, including Wednesday, this song came on my iPod via shuffle on the bus when I was returning from evaluation-related appointments. Unplanned, but appreciated–for some reason, in that frame of mind, the level of resonation was so much higher than it had been in previous situations listening to Caldecott Tunnel.

When somebody climbs into your head with a variety of questions and tests, it is certainly a strange experience–the questions they then ask after acquiring a basic knowledge of what is going on in there then start to lead you to believe that they understand what is going on.  It’s been crazy, and it’s sure as hell been emotional–but answers? I’ve got some of them.  I’ve also got more questions, but those will sort themselves out . . . because I’ve got solutions, too.

It’s been a flurry of activity in my brain . . . about my brain. Which is totally weird.

Now, if you are internally saying “Kerri. Cut with the preamble here!”, then you know how I felt when I got a bunch of pre-results preamble from my student therapist.

The testing for ADHD was inconclusive. I have a very significant inattention component, but very little hyperactivity [I am sure some of you will be surprised by that!]. Thus, they could not confidently give a diagnosis FOR or AGAINST ADHD.  So, I have considerate inattention symptoms, but also a low processing speed. Jay shed some light on this in an e-mail the other night [for which I am very appreciative, because holy acronyms batman.]

It’s the processing speed and the working memory that are of the greatest challenge for you which slips into the attentional difficulties category, yet makes sense that a full Dx of ADHD was not there and not ruled out.

The primary findings are that I also struggle more significantly with visual memory than I do with auditory, and to work with that. It is also recommended that though I could not receive OR discount a diagnosis of ADHD, that I consider discussing medication with my doctor to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD I do experience, which I am going to do in a couple of weeks.  I am still not sure of my thoughts on meds, and I do not want to be on something all the time, but as my friend Sara pointed out yesterday, and Jay agreed with, it could potentially be helpful for certain things. For example, attending lectures [longer days especially], studying, staff meetings, etc. These are kind of things I peg as having more structure, and thus not so conducive to having my brain wandering a significant amount and thus missing important things. Other things though, like downtime, and the nature of my job, are things that I don’t feel I require medication for, and I would rather not be on it all the time if that is an option.

Very cool, though, is I have a very concrete map of what things look like within my own learning style, and suggestions on how to maximize on that.  The testing revealed I struggle significantly with visual memory [which has been a surprise to many of my friends!], so it is recommended that I audio record my lectures, and use audiobooks for textbooks. Interestingly, my vocabulary and writing scores were very high [not to brag, but totally to brag–90th percentile, over here!], but my reading comprehension scores were significantly lower than expected [which could very much explain my dislike of English, but my love of writing]. When I read for fun, obviously reading comprehension is not such a big deal, but academically, it makes things harder. They also assume that because my language abilities are high is why I am achieving significantly more than the tests predicted–which, of course, is a really good thing!  (Because my processing speed is considered to be “Extremely Low to Borderline”, this would have negatively impacted my “full scale IQ” score, so they were unable to give me a nifty IQ number, which was disappointing! :]).

Currently, academically is where things require balancing out. And we’re working at that.

I had an appointment with Accessibility Services at my university yesterday morning, the [my?] Accessibility Advisor was absolutely fantastic!  They are truly going above and beyond the recommendations to hopefully make this school thing more successful for me now that we know what is going on.  Because I am getting my results really close to the end of the term, I figured we likely would not be able to get my accommodations in place for my upcoming April exams, but they are going to do their best! I have an exam on April 2nd during my class period that is obviously coming up soon and does not give us a lot of time to work with.  Accommodations for upcoming terms will include audio recording my lectures and having a volunteer note-taker in class so that there is less of a chance that I miss something in lecture. Finally, I’ll be getting audio versions of textbooks so that I can listen to readings and hopefully gain more information from them that way.  I found one of my textbooks this term has an online component, so I tried using that tonight paired with the screen reader. It will take a bit of getting used to, but I finished a chapter–with notes–in about two hours–this is a big deal! Prior to this discovery, it would take me significantly longer to get through readings without taking notes!

Everybody’s been asking me how I’m feeling about this. As I told the student therapist when she gave me my results (and she once again used her sixth sense like Dr. B did with the klneenex on intake day), because no i am fine this is totally a good thing, and oh my God you are explaining my life. Because lets face it, it’s been twenty-one years. It’s been more years than I ever let on to anybody that I felt something wasn’t right–how I felt that how I was working wasn’t working for me–especially this last year feeling like I should be doing better, but not knowing how I could possibly be working any harder than I was and still not doing well at all academically.  In reality, I think the culmination of things did not click fully until the accessibility advisor kept referring to this collection of whatever as your disability. That was an interesting concept to wrap my head around.

As I questioned in the aforementioned post: “What gives?” This. Now . . . we have pinpointed things. We are working at this.  And . . . I am finally feeling good about what is to come.  Whatever it is, it’s just me. This is how it’s always been. That is the interesting thing about this–there is nothing different about me pre- and post-asessment/diagnosis. The only difference is, we know where I’m at. And hopefully this helps to get me where I’m going more effectively.

It’s modifying the process, not the outcome. Hopefully though, through modifying the process, the outcome comes sooner and perhaps looks brighter.  I have no idea how the classroom accommodations are going to play out, how they are going to work for me, but I very much hope I start feeling some more success, as well as seeing it.  To that effect, I bought an iPad. I am hoping that between the audio textbooks and continuing to use Evernote and the text-to-speech feature on my Mac, that I can also incorporate some other technology, like textbooks via iBooks and Penultimate for the diagrams that are necessary, to intersect with my learning style, and what I need to learn effectively, better.

Finally . . . I am hopeful. I am hopeful that school will no longer make me feel completely defeated. I am hopeful that this opens up more options to me for whatever may lay ahead. I am hopeful that though I have learned a lot through this process . . . that I will learn even more as a result of it.

I am hopeful. And that . . . is a good thing.

8 thoughts on “modify the process, not the outcome: assessment results . . . and hope.

  1. So, there are people with real ADHD. But You make something with that. I know a lot of people, who go to psychologist with their children, because they (parents, not children) are simply lazy and they aren’t able to take care about their children well. These children are real tragedy later, in school – for teachers.
    I think, that this kind of laziness make only troubles for people with real problems. I don’t know, how it looks in Canada, but here in Poland it is common.
    That’s why I like visiting blogs – I can learn something different about world without going out from my home 🙂
    Greetings for You 🙂

    1. Hey Zim,
      Yes, ADHD is certainly real–as is the ability to climb over any associated struggles with that! I agree–it is not fair that parents substitute medicating children for parenting. I think this is why ADHD testing can be so rigorous–at least mine was!

      Ah, sharing perspective–always such a good thing! :]

  2. Life goes on 🙂 I think it’s good that you aren’t getting caught up in the labels(well lack there of) in this process. You’ll figure it out and find the right balance of what works for you. I got lucky and with a “disability” or whatever you want to call my motor skill issues that got easier to deal with as I progressed in school (thanks to computers coming around everywhere, which meant an end to quite as much writing). I’ve been there in that surreal experience where you realize they are talking about people/person with a disability and you are one of those people. It was really surreal to present a class group project a community outreach program on developmental disabilities when I technically have a condition that qualifies.
    You’ll figure out what the right balance is for you and it sounds like you’re making progress in the right direction on that and getting the support you need set up. Keep up the good work 🙂

    1. I feel that somewhat of a label might be helpful for purposes of explanation–I feel like I am in some weird “nonspecific learning disability” realm. But indeed, a good thing not to be caught up in.
      Getting accommodations/supports in pace though is certainly good . . . as is knowing that there’s something different in there.

      Thanks!

  3. Hey girl,

    I am glad you are getting things sorted out. It’s is a great starting place. Attention deficits tend to manifest differently in girls. Whereas boys tend to get the hyperactivity portion down pat, girls are very good at the more quiet distraction and fiddling kind of attention deficit. Girls tend to go unnoticed, told to try harder or focus. They fall under the radar in classroom setting because they are not a behaviour issue. I wish I had read this sooner. I am glad the University accessibility services are so accommodating as this is more common than actually diagnosed. Once you know what will work for you, keep on doing it. If you have any questions, let me know, I might (no promises) be able to help out a little.
    Cheers,
    Lori

    1. Hey you! :]

      Thank you! If you have ANY suggestions at all, shoot ’em at me!

      Really, I’m just beginning the process of stumbling through this, but the Accessibility people at school have been AWESOME. I am still not sure what my thoughts on the subject are, but I’m also seeing a psychiatrist in August to discuss the possibility of medication [I don’t know if I want it at ALL but I figure it’s worth discussing, and if anything would rather only take it for school or whatever].

      Overall, things have been REALLY good with AS thus far. Unfortunately I dropped my Spring course [too hard to catch up after my little stint in the hospital there], but things were mostly going well with the accommodations, too :] (of course *i* don’t care because my life is on the internet, but my prof was none-too-discreet dealing with it like she was supposed to be–that was the only snag I really felt, which was minor :)).

      Really though… ANY suggestions… send ’em my way. Also if you have any suggestions for relevant iPad apps… Bring ’em! :]

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