Neurofeedback: Further Improvement

The way to hell pictureNovember 10th
The good news is Maria will be coming to the new center on Tuesdays. The bad news is Granny and Gumby still have no idea what the hell they are doing. Gumby takes twice as long as Maria to put the glue and sensors on my head. He isn’t nearly as gentle as Maria is. Gumby is so rough scrubbing my head, it often feels as though he is abrading my scalp with sandpaper. Having him take the glue off my head is even more painful! It makes my time at the dentist seem like heaven. Worse, Gumby doesn’t even get ALL the glue off. I can still feel the clumps of glue stuck in my hair long after I leave. It takes about three showers to finally get rid of the clumps of glue. Oh, the frustration!

While all this is going on, Granny is just watching Gumby instead of participating (Fantastic idea, Granny). After getting the stupid glue put on my head, the techs realize the computer isn’t working. I have gone through all the hell of Gumby putting glue on my head for nothing. Why the fuck did Doc hire these two morons? GRRRR……Actually, so many other clients are getting ticked off by Granny and Gumby that they also are going to Maria. What a shocker!

On a happier note, my scores have continued to rise. On November 5th, my score reached 70 during the seventh round. This means my brain was able to stay on task for 35 seconds. YIPPIE!! Yet my brain has a long way to go to get rid of all the “traffic.” I still have trouble with certain facts. Case in point, I made a bad mistake today in math today I told a student, Ginny, that her division problem was right and it wasn’t. I didn’t notice that Ginny had brought the same number down twice, throwing off her answer. Of course I found my mistake…when I heard the teacher talking to Ginny.

Teacher: Ginny, this isn’t correct.
Ginny: But Miss Walsh said it was!!
Me: (looks at watch) Gee, look at the time! Gotta go help out with first grade. Later! I rushed quickly out of the room.

Okay, so that last line didn’t happen. Thankfully, the teacher never confronted me about it. Still, it was humiliating. Even now I beat myself up over it. Why do I keep making these mistakes? More importantly, when will I STOP making these mistakes? I sometimes feel as though my A.D.D is easily shown at work. It is as though I have an “A” on my chest the way Hester Prynne did in The Scarlet Letter. Although my “A” represents Attention Deficit Disorder rather than adultery, I still feel like an outcast.

Regardless of how well I am doing with the Neurofeedback therapy, I don’t think I could be a teacher. There is too much stress and politics involved. Now I have to figure out what the hell I want (and more importantly) can do with my life. I know what I don’t want to do…which is a nine to five job in a cubicle. Needless to say that limits me.

Perhaps I could be a basic skills teacher. I may have twenty students but only for a few subjects. Furthermore, I can teach them in smaller groups. Ironically enough, there just might be a basic skills position opening up in the spring. Hmm……



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? 



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:



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:


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.



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: