Don’t be Afraid of the Ball!!!




    No, balls don’t really scare me…unless they are flying in the air towards me.   Flying objects appear closer than they really are to me.  This has nothing to do with my reading vision (which is 20-20) but with a different type of visual condition called Intermittent Exotropia.  The eyes drift outward, causing moving objects to appear closer than they really are.  Here is an example of what my eyes would look like up close:


Picture from

     A study by The University of Arkansas found that most people with Intermittent Exotropia also have  neurological issues, such as Attention Deficit Disorder.   If Thomas Hartman is correct that those with A.D.D/ADHD were nomadic hunters millions of years ago, perhaps having Intermittent Exotropia gave them the ability to see animals a little bit sooner.  For me, having Intermittent Exotropia got me picked last every single time during gym.  No one wants someone on their team who turns away from a flying ball instead of trying to catch it.  Gym sucked.

       This condition can not be cured by neurofeedback or through any other means.  Yet Neurofeedback can help with my other visual issue: Dysgraphia.

                Dysgraphia is a learning disability that makes handwriting sloppy, words hard to spell, difficult to process information, and nearly impossible to write words or numbers on a straight line.    Here is an example from



          Can you imagine being an elementary teacher and having this horrible handwriting?  As a substitute I would always type up my reports.  The principal was pretty impressed that I would take the time.  Really, I was just trying to hide my Dysgraphia.   Sadly I can’t hide it in my current position.

                For one student that I assist, I have the responsibility of writing how many times during the day I have to get him refocused in class or reteach him a certain subject.     This data is to prove to the student’s mother that he needs an aide.  The student’s mother wants him to be de-classified.   I think it is because she didn’t want her little angel (as she calls him) to feel different from everyone else by having an aide.  I’m more concern about what will happen to ‘Angel’ later on if he doesn’t get the accommodations he needs.

          Angel’s case manager, Debbie, said I wasn’t going to need to hand my notes until Monday.  I had planned to retype the notes over the weekend.  The notes would be neat, legible, and obtain perfect spelling and grammar.  You can imagine my agony when Debbie asked for my notes on Thursday.

     “Wha….what?”  I was sure (or hoping) that I had heard wrong.  I didn’t.

     Debbie explained that the IEP meeting with Angel’s mom was rescheduled for that afternoon.  Therefore Debbie needed to see the notes to talk to Angel’s teachers.  My heart raced faster than a locomotive.

      “You do have the notes, right?” 

      I gulped.  I had two choices.   I could lie.  I could say I forgot my notes.  The downside to that was I would look irresponsible.

     The second choice was to tell Debbie that, yes, I have the notes.  I could show her my sloppy, misspelled and misaligned notes and explain that they were my first draft.   Really, my choices were to portray myself as irresponsible or hasty.I decided to go with the latter choice. 

     “I have my notes, but they are kind of sloppy.  Really, they are more like a first draft .”

     “Oh please!  It can’t be as bad as mine!” Debbie showed me her notes.  Of course her handwriting was legible and written in a nice line.               “Bring them to the meeting at noon.”  Before I could protest any further she left.  I had never felt so nervous!

     At noon I went to the meeting.  My hands were shaking and my stomach was flip-flopping as I opened to the door to the conference room.  Debbie and three teachers were sitting at the table.  Debbie waved to me.  “Good to see you, Mary.  Please put your notes in the center of the table and sit down.”

      My face must have been red as a tomato as I placed my notes in the center of the table.  Four educators were looking at my terrible handwriting and spelling.  The room was silent and I wanted to die.  After what seemed like an eternity, one teacher cleared her throat and made a comment about Angel’s skills.  I don’t recall the exact conversation because I was busy asking God if a bolt of lighting could  come and strike me dead immediately.  Needless to say, God’s answer was no.  

                Yet, none of the adults made a comment about my sloppy handwriting or spelling.  A week later, Debbie told me to keep my sloppy notes separated from my neat notes in the future.  What a relief!  It felt like the weight had been lifted from my shoulders!   So, I always make sure my notes are typed by the end of the week and ready to hand in.

                Doc said that my handwriting will always be sloppy.  Neurofeedback or  Occupational therapy will not help.    However, I can now write in a straight line as shown below.


     This shows that my visual skills are improving as well as parts of my Dysgraphia.   Will it be enough to obtain a teaching position in the near future?  I doubt it. Yes, I will be able to correct work without missing mistakes and be able to write in a straight line but there is still a lot of ‘traffic’ going on in my brain.  In other words, my brain isn’t processing information quickly.  Still my visual results are very positive.   Perhaps I will be able to obtain a real teaching job in the future.  What do you think? 






PLEASE NOTE: I am skipping week five since I only had one session.  There was a mess up with scheduling and traffic issues (the kind that involve actual cars on the high way, not the traffic in my brain, got it? J).

RECAP: I am going through the process of Neurofeedback to treat my A.D.D.

  1.  Once I get to the Doctor’s office, the tech puts twenty-seven sensors (wires) on my head.  These wires are connected to the computer.
  2. I am to stare at the monitor for two minutes.  During this time, a green ball appears on the screen.  My brain must make the ball stay on the screen.  The computer is actually teaching the brainwaves to slow down.
  3. The  computer measures how many seconds my brain was able to keep the green ball on the screen.   The goal is to get at least sixty seconds.
  4. After two minutes, I get a forty-five second break.  Then the process starts again.  This goes on for twelve rounds.

September 26, 2013

Between my cats waking me at five am and my bad back, I I haven’t gotten the best sleep.  I think that is why I haven’t been doing too well with my feedback therapy.  After all, my scores were in the 60’s before school started.   They only started to slide after school started and I wasn’t able to sleep as late in the morning.

To recap, I have twenty-seven little sensors placed on my head.

In school, I noticed a common A.D.D problem:  grading.  Since I have visual problems, I also have trouble grading.  I miss the little things.  Ever hear the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees?”  This saying really applies to someone with A.D.D.    I’m the one who will notice the weird tree that no one else notices and misses the rest of the forest.  Oh well. So, grading is a problem.  Let me show you an example:


Picture from:

I would check the student’s answer with the answer key….and completely miss the decimal.   On different problems other mistakes might include missing an omitted number or a repeated number. Not on purpose. Trust me; I try not to miss the little things. Yet I do.  No matter how carefully I am looking at the problem or how deliberately I look at the answer, I still miss little things.  Needless to say, this matters a lot when handing back a graded paper to a student.  If I mis-grade anything…it will look unprofessional. My visual issues are due to the ‘traffic jam’ I was talking about in the previous post.  I just hope to get rid of the traffic!

September 30, 2013

Finally.   My scores are going up!  YEAH!!  Of course there are reasons for it.  For one, I try to make sure I go to bed rather early at night.  Also I have been trying this new supplement for the last two weeks that doc recommended.  It is an over the counter supplement called Guarana.  It is used as a stimulant to reduce mental and physical fatigue.

Not sure I am recognizing any other type of changes at work.  Yet I am happy with how work is going.  I feel that I am reading the students rather well.  I help them when they truly need it and let them solve problems on their own when I know they can.

October 3rd, 2013

The scores continue to rise.  Things at work are going well.  I also feel blessed with the people I am working with.

Every staff member only has kind words to say about one another.  Those that have family or health issues are especially taken care of by the rest of the staff.  For instance, one teacher was recently diagnosed with cancer.  The staff pitched in to get her things to help her through the treatments, like certain tea or spa stuff.   Other staff members volunteered to cover her classes.

Perhaps the reason I am feeling so optimistic about work is because the neurofeedback therapy is re-wiring the brain to make me feel less anxious.  Hmm…

October 4th, 2013

I got the best news today!  Maria said that my scores are high enough to move up!  Hoorah!  This means that we are done working on the cortex of the brain.  Now we will move on to the executive parts of the brain. This is the front of the brain.  The time I have to watch the ‘green ball’ will be reduced from two minutes to 1.5.

Also, I now only have to go to Neurofeedback theraphy two times a week instead of thrice.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!  This means I save $50.00’s a week.  Excuse me while I jump up and down on the coach (leaves to jump on coach). 


 My results for the past week

My results for the past week