Studying. No one to explain the explicit meaning of the words within the context of the material set out in front of me. Trying to apply my mind, hours upon hours on end to make sense of the tutorial letters and study guides.
Then finding myself near to tears of frustration, not because I don’t understand what I read in my textbooks. No, it is the instructions that trips me up, every single time! It is the use of words and referencing from one book to the next. I can read it but I don’t understand it. It’s like having audibility but no intelligibility. For the first time I found myself wishing that I had what my son has – someone who literally helps you get from A to B.
Imagine this, you are standing at your front door. You know that you need to turn the handle to enter, but for some reason your mind is struggling to comprehend just how to send the message to your arm. Then when the message is finally sent, your mind struggles to comprehend how to send the message to your hands that it needs to grasp the door handle and turn it. Even though your mind knows exactly what needs to be done, it just can’t find the correct language to make your body understand.
It is agonising!
Why? Because I know that I can do this. But somehow I am stuck in the doorway of my mind, struggling.
Perhaps this will give you an idea of what I mean. I watched this 2011 discussion between Professor Christopher Gillberg and Dr. Lorna Wing, and she says at 15:13 minutes into the video.
“The saying that I like, is a camel is a horse designed by a committee. . . ”
This 3 second comment in a 26 minute video completely stumped me! I was lost for the rest of the video, distracted and confused by what was said. Even though I knew that it was used in reference to her comment on the DSM and ICD systems. I found myself looking at an image of a horse and a camel in my head, seeing committees and trying to put it all together and fit it to what was said during the discussion. I became so distracted by what was said and trying to understand it that everything else faded into the backgrond. Why? Because the bigger picture was incomplete and lost on me until I could understand this 3 second statement. This example is but one of the challenges that I struggle with.
Examples aside, here I am, majoring in communication science and psychology. Struggling!
I’ve been able to fly through my previous modules of multiple choice questions because I could answer through a process of elimination based on what I learnt from reading. I could study by reading my textbooks with no reference to the study guides. No confusion.
Now? Well, now the modules require the application of the study guide in reference to the text book and then I have to actually write paragraph after paragraph after paragraph to answer questions. Questions that takes me a very long time to really process and understand what is expected. This weekend alone I spend 16 hours completing my portfolio exam, and prior to this I spent many days just reading the instructions and trying to put it all together.
But, with most things in my life, I’ve figured out a way to help my mind structure the process and help me move from A to B. In this case, help me get started on answering questions, because once I get stuck it is very difficult to move along . . .
First I start preparing for my written assignment by formatting my document – the basics, the important index. Then, I take it one section at a time and only start answering the questions once I fully understand what I need to do, the context that I need to answer in, and how best to formulate my thoughts. This is a lengthy process!
And while I can give myself a pat on the back for the results obtained for my first 3 written assignments, it took me a very, very long time to get through the process.
In he meantime I am silently freaking out, wondering how I am going to make it through written exams, with only 2 hours allocated when it takes me so long to process and understand the questions, never mind applying my mind to answer as best as I can. And, in all likelihood the exams will require a lot more hand written work, further tripping up my mind!