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My Experience with Brain Mapping: Paste, Sitting Still and Reflecting….

Hey Readers!

                Good news: I get the results of my brain mapping this Saturday.  YEAH!!  This post will be about what the tests were like a few weeks ago….and how I believe I did as well as my prediction for what Doc will say.

                As previously posted, I wish to try Neurofeedback  therapy in order to be faster with work.  My A.D.D makes me much slower.

First, the doctor tested my brain functioning and cognitive ability.  The doctor then asked me a bunch of questions and had me do some tasks. In order to make this somewhat interesting I am going to list everything by category such as stick/oral instructions, comprehension questions, visual pattern intelligence test, computer test, and EEG (Electroencephalography).

 

Stick/Oral Instructions:  The first thing Doc asked me to do was follow the stick he was holding with my eyes.  That was easy.  Next I had to watch Doc do three things with his hands and then I had to repeat the motions.  That was hard.  I couldn’t remember any of the motions.  After that, I was asked to listen to a list of words and then repeat them.   There were twenty to twenty-five words on the list. I could only repeat three to five items.   That was embarrassing, although I wasn’t too surprised.  Throughout my life, I have always had to ask for directions or important information to be repeated.  Hence, I always had a note taker and tape recorder in college. I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget any important information.  Yet in the working world, it looks a little weird having a tape recorder or asking my colleagues: “Hey, can I look at your notes from the meeting?”

 

Comprehension Questions: I was asked a lot of ‘why’ questions.  Here is one example:

Questions: Why would a defendant ask to have a jury instead of a judge decide the verdict of the case?

My Answer: Because the defendant might have a better chance of an acquittal with twelve people vs. one.

When asked for another reason, I couldn’t think of another one.  Honestly, I’m not sure if there is another good reason.  However, the fact that there could be makes me question my intelligence. Of course, I was never that good with comprehension questions.  Probably because I hear things differently.   Here is an example of a lesson from my days in kindergarten days:

Teacher: President Lincoln is regarded as the second greatest president of our country.

What I heard: President Lincoln was the second president of our country.

                When later asked who the second president of America was, I answered Abraham Lincoln.   My classmates thought it was funny.  My teacher didn’t.  She thought I was acting stupid when in reality I just heard her wrong.  This was one of the reasons I was very hesitant to volunteer answers in class throughout my education career.

 

Visual Pattern Intelligence Test:        I had to complete certain patterns.  The easy ones were like this:  Image

 

 

Then the pictures became more complicated:

Image

 

I suck at patterns and puzzles.  Probably why Geometry is my worse subject.  It didn’t help that my mother was a mathematician.  She would get very frustrated with me over my math homework because I couldn’t understand how to solve the math problems.  I feel the visual test had to do more with visual skills vs. intelligence so I’m not very embarrassed by how I did with this test. 

 

Computer Test to measure attention span: Doc had me look at a computer screen.  There was a square in the middle of the screen.  When Doc activated the software, the square would frequently move from the center of the screen to the top of the screen.  I had to click on the mouse when the square reached the top of the screen.  Needless to say, this task prevented me from looking anywhere but the screen.  That was the point.  The test was to measure my concentration level.  The test took twenty minutes.  It was only during the last five minutes that I found my mind thinking of other things.  Doc said this meant I probably only have mild to moderate attention problems.  No surprise there!  As I have posted before, concentration hasn’t been a problem for me as an adult.  The main issue has been my ability to finish work as quickly and efficiently as the rest of my peers.  Still, it nice to know I aced at least one part of the battery of tests.

 

EEG (Electroencephalography):  A nurse led me to a white room where I sat in a dentist type chair.  She cleaned my scalp and covered my head with something that felt like tooth paste.  Then the nurse put twenty seven white circle little wires on my head that looked like the ear plugs of my I-Pod.  The picture below best shows what my head looked like:

 Image

Bubble Head!

 

It was hard (and painful) to get this gooey stuff out of my hair.

The wires were connected to a computer.  My brain waves were monitored by a computer with my eyes shut and then wide open.

 

Image 

Bubble Head connected to computer

 

                The nurse asked me to think of names that started with the letter “F.” Then she asked me to think of as many names as possible.  Lastly, she showed me a piece paper which showed two separate patterns: 1,4,7 and AZ, BY, C_.  I had to finish the pattern.  The hardest part was I couldn’t refer back to the piece of paper. 

                Throughout the EEG (30-45 minutes), I was told not to move a muscle, not to blink or move a finger.  I couldn’t do this at age six nor at age thirty.  The longest I could stay still was for one minute.  The nurse needed me to stay still for at least two minutes.     

                While she was redoing the test for the third time, I reflected on the last time I did an EEG test:  the fall of 1987.  After suspecting that I had some type of learning disability, my pediatrician recommended I go to New York to see Dr. Arthur Gold, Professor of Clinical Neurology and Pediatrics.  The term “learning disabilities” was still rather new.  The Americans with Disabilities Act was not introduced yet and most schools didn’t have accommodations for special education students.   Dr. Gold was one of the few knowledgeable in the field of Learning Disabilities.

                In 1987, the EEG sensors looked more like big black buttons.  The nurse put hot glue on them and stuck them on my head. It hurt like hell. Then she told me to lie on the table and not to move.  At age six, this was a huge problem.  The nurse yelled at me for moving too much, and my father told her off.

                Reflecting on this story finally allowed me to be still for two minutes.  I was so relieved to be allowed to move around again and go home!

 

What is next:  As I mentioned above, it has been almost a month since I have had the testing done.  I finally get the results on Saturday.    Doc will explain what parts of the brain are not functioning properly.  We will discuss what type of brain mapping is appropriate for me.  

I feel I have done poorly with most of the tests.  While it embarrassing I will at least know what part of the brain isn’t working.  Still, Doc warned me that if there is something wrong with the executive functioning part of the brain then there might not be much Neurofeedback therapy can do.  Neurofeedback does great for concentration problems, but I don’t believe that is my issue.   If Doc says that Neurofeedback therapy will not help, I’m not sure what else I can do to work more efficiently in the workplace.  Neurofeed back feels like my only hope….

-Mary R. Shine

Pictures are from:

http://www.intechopen.com/books/management-of-epilepsy-research-results-and-treatment/dense-array-eeg-epilepsy

http://www.thehealthage.com

and
http://sfari.org/images/blog/157138/image_medium

A.D.D. VS. ADHD: Yes, there is a difference!

(The following takes place in the super market.  Mary is wearing a shirt that says “I have A.D.D. Ask me about it!”  She is about to leave the market when a fellow shopper tapes her on the shoulder)

Stranger:  Excuse me, I see by your shirt that you have A.D.D

Mary: Yes

Stranger:  I saw you in the market and I must commend you on your behavior.

Mary:  Excuse me?

Stranger: Well you didn’t lose your temper when that lady cut you in line.

Mary: (thinking,) yeah, because people with A.D.D can be pretty timid.  Yes but….

Stranger: You didn’t lose your patience in line either

Mary:  True but….

Stranger: And you weren’t interrupting anyone or talking loudly.

Mary:  You have my A.D.D confused with ADHD.  Also, those with A.D.D or ADHD tend to be very creative….

Stranger: Wait, aren’t A.D.D and ADHD the same?

Me:  Hardly

 

Hi Readers!

                No, that event never happened.  However, my close friends who know I have A.D.D normally confuse it with ADHD.  In fact, most of the countries’ population assume that A.D.D is the same as ADHD.  In reality, the two are extremely different.  Even some doctors confuse the two disorders.

                Since my doctor said it will be at least another week before I get the result of my brain mapping, I thought I would use this week’s blog to talk about the difference between A.D.D and ADHD. 

                As previously stated, I have Attention Deficit Disorder.  My cousin, Clark, has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  Both disorders are hereditary, affect learning and can be treated (note: treated NOT cured) with medication and/or behavior treatment. On the positive side, A.D.D/ADHD causes people to become very creative.  

                That is where the similarities end.  Down below, you will see the difference between A.D.D and ADHD in children and adults.  Further more, you will see how our different disorders affected Clark and myself as children and as adults.

Childhood A.D.D: socially withdrawn, appear shy, constantly daydreaming.         

Mary’s Childhood: In elementary school, I was very shy and sensitive.  I liked playing by myself instead of playing with others.  Even at my sixth birthday party, it felt like work trying to get the nerve to talk to my classmates.  I felt so insecure!

         I always wanted to please my teacher so I was very polite and a hard worker.  Yet no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop daydreaming in class and I couldn’t work as fast as my classmates.  After I was diagnosed, one of my accommodations was to have my homework and classwork cut in half.  Being on Ritalin helped me be able to concentrate in class.  I hated being on medicine.  It made me feel stupid.  Yet looking back, I would have failed school if it wasn’t for the Ritalin and the accommodations I was given.   Due to the medicine and accommodations, I started to get good grades and progressed to high school, college and graduate school, where I got on the honor roll.

 

Childhood ADHD: Very talkative, eager to make friends, can’t sit still, acts before thinking.

Clark’s Childhood: Clark was very talkative and enjoyed having a large group of friends to play with.  Clark had trouble sitting still.  He preferred to walk around the room when the teacher was talking.  School work was very boring to Clark.  Although Clark didn’t try to be, he was labeled as a troublemaker by his teacher. 

                At his six year old birthday party, Clark spotted our grandfather through the window walking towards the house.  He was so excited that he ran right through the glass door.  That’s right: Clark was so excited that he forgot to open the door first!  My poor cousin spent his birthday in the emergency room.  As far as I know, Clark was never classified as a child.  He was a child of the 70’s so not much was known about ADHD.  Despite his difficulties, Clark was never held back a grade and went to high school, college and graduate school.

 

Adulthood ADD: Sluggish behavior, slow to complete tasks, hate change in routine.

                      Mary’s Adulthood: Although I concentrate well, I am still slow when it comes to getting my work done.  I could disclose my disability but even Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau, author of ADD in the Work Place advises that those with A.D.D/ADHD should seek accommodation only as a last resort because “A.D.D. is an invisible disability that is poorly understood and often interpreted negatively by employers.  If you are having difficulty functioning on the job and then decide to disclose you’re A.D.D, you run the risk of being seen in an even more negative light (Nadeau, pg. 204).”(1)

                Since I cannot finish my work as quickly as my peers, my employment normally only lasts for about a year. For this reason I have had eight different jobs in six years.

 

ADHD- Risk taker, energetic, yearn for change in order to keep from being bored.

Clark’s Adulthood: Yes, Clark was a risk taker.  Unlike popular belief, this did not mean doing drugs, driving recklessly or committing a crime.  Clark took a risk by leaving his job as a stock broker and started his own business being a finical advisor.  He has done quite well for himself as an entrepreneur and lives with his wife and children upstate.

 

                I find it ironic that I was viewed as a teacher’s pet in school and lazy in the work world while Clark was viewed as a trouble maker in school and a fast genius in the work world.  While both disorders sound the same, they are very different.