The true blind experience

Here we are, on yet another topic I feel must be addressed. You all go to an awareness raising session, devoted to blindness, and the different eye conditions there are. What organisations like the RNIB fail to mention, is that wearing what they call simi-specs, a type of lens that simulates the eye condition, is not the same as being truely blind, nor is walking a route, having known it all your life through vision. Imagine the following.
You have not seen anything all your life, no light, nothing. Every day, you have to learn routes, but all by feel. You have to memorise each landmark, each tactile road crossing, each grass verge, everything. As sighted people, you have visual references, for example, the colour of the ground, and any other references. Even if you were blind-folded, you would still know the route, because the memory of the visual route would be stored within your hippocampus, the area of the brain, situated in the temporal lobe, that deals with memory,. You would automatically know where you were going, so being blind-folded, and thinking you are doing a good thing, by simulating blindness that way, in actual fact, is wrong, and should not be done. If you wish to simulate it properly, take the sighted person, who is blind-folded, into an area that is unknown to them, then instruct them on how to use a cane. Whilst RNIB would frown upon this, I do not care. This is how to show people what living in our world, is truely like. If you wish, get a rehab officer from RNIB, to instruct them, on cane technique, as they would us. It is important for the sighted person to remember however, that the soul purpose of learning this cane technique, is soly for the purpose of the experieence, and under no circumstances, should they then try and transfer their skills to a blind person, without rehab training. They would have to undergo a rehabilitation course, and be certified as a rehabilitation officer, before they can attempt such teaching.

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A follow-up

Regarding my last post on my career change, to speech and language, I too had slight problems of my own when I was younger. The first, I could not say words with the letter L. I would always compensate them for the letter N. In order to combat this problem, my granddad, who sung opera, though not professionally, decided to try and help me. We began a regime of exercises with my tongue,, some of which involved singing, both solo and in harmony, as I too was a singer. We’d discovered not just my piano tallents, but my ability to sing soprano, with no struggle. My granddad would say: “put your tongue in the N position, then move it more to the front of your mouth, just behind the top teeth, under the roof of your mouth, then it should sound like L.” I kept trying, but most times, failing. After a while, and numerous attempts, I succeeded. The second problem, the more frustrating issue I faced, came much later, when I began studying voice formally. I had serious jaw tention. If I was going to sing well, and in the correct belcanto (beautiful singing) technique, this had to be sorted, and quickly. I also had problems with understanding the concept of using my soft pallet, and allowing it to raise. This was not happening, causing the sound to go back, and close. It was also causing my jaw to clench, and my neck to tighten. This was also not good. There were numerous times, I would cry with frustration as I was struggling, but it was when a teacher, by the name of Miss Deledesma, endevoured to explain it to me. I was studying in Hereford at the time, and had just had my voice ruined, and confidence destroyed a previous teacher who worked there. One day, while singing in a concert, the lady heard me and came up to me. Her observations, were that I had a large voice, and that I was holding it back. Finally, after a lot of explaining, through touch, on my part, and exercises, I understood. Now, I wish to utalise my skills, in order to help people with the likes of aphasia, (difficulty getting words out, as well as understanding) people with head injuries, and cerebral palsy. So yes, I can at least, have some empathy. 

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Speech and language?

Today, I went out with my counsellor for a coffee. We were discussing some recent events, that had happened. My voluntary work placement, was going extremely well, until the insurance company, refused to allow me to continue with my placement, due to the fact I have no vision. Upset, and hurt, I’d had enough, and decided to write to the press. As some of you may or may not know, the Isle of Man, is currently undergoing changes, as we do not have the equality act in place. I decided, therefore, to write to the press, explaining how I had felt about the situation, and also, how I was fighting for the rights of others with disabilities, who are struggling to get into employment, or voluntary work. That then lead onto the subject of my degree. My counsellor, eventually, discovered my true passion, did not lie in neuro-rehabilitation, in terms of physio, or psychological, though, I would like to use my psychological skills to help people with brain injury, or other neurological problems, but it was speech and language therapy, that I would like to go in too. My counsellor, explained that she could tell the passion in my voice, when I explained what I wanted to do. Now, I am going to switch my degree to an open degree next year, then after I graduate, pursue my degree in speech and language therapy. So, there you go. The latest post. I hope you enjoy it.

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To someone losing their sight.

To someone who is losing their sight

While I may not know you, or have even spoken to you, I hope the reason you chose to stop bye and read, is because of this post. While I myself, was born without sight, due to being born 3 months early, I can say somewhat that I know what it’s like. Okay, I don’t know what it’s like to lose sight, as it’s something I’ve never had, and probably will never have, but getting a diagnosis of something that more or less changes you a lot, is something I can relate too. while it is not eye related, but brain related I can say, that I have been there. I lost confidence, I felt that sadness, that worry of not being able to go out independently, fear of the unknown, knowing what I have cannot be cured, but can be controlled. But it’s not the end of everything. That’s not where your life has to end, not where your world has to end. Mine did not, and nor will yours. I sort counselling, CBT, and NLP, of which I am still going through, and I am also studying towards a degree in psychology with counselling. Do I see myself as disabled? No. We all have challenges in life, but why should we use the word disability, or disabilities. Regardless of what you have, whether it be brain injury, epilepsy, stroke, CP, ALS, etc, If the likes of Hawking can achieve such huge endeavours, even with his challenges in life, then why can’t we? If Helen Keller achieved so much, why can’t we? We can follow in their footsteps, we don’t have to be piano tuning, answering phones, weaving baskets. Those are the jobs for the people in victorian Britain, or anywhere else, with no understanding of us. Yes, we may not have sight, or may be in wheelchairs, but what of it? There’s no difference right? The sky is our limit, the world is ours to take, and we should grab every opportunity we have to adapt things to our needs, even if it is tedious, even if it makes some frustrated, so what? We get there. So if you’re sitting there now thinking, I have lost my vision, that’s it, my world is over, it’s not. Look at this post, at what I’m doing. At what a lot of people without sight can do. We can be psychologists, nurses, assistants to teachers, medical doctors, if you read the story of Bolotin, who became a heart and lung specialist in the 1920s. You can do what ever you put your mind too, and this, I mean. Let no-one stop you, let no-one put you down. You have no vision, but that does not matter. What matters, is that we all fight to achieve, and succeed, as no matter what people may say, we can and will, succeed. I hope this has made you feel somewhat better, and inspired. You can cook, can raise a family, can live the same as you could before, just, using different tools and strategies. It’s what you know, and who you know that counts. 🙂

If you want to be inspired, find a list of visually impaired people who achieved on http://www.afb.org

Even this link:

http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/for-job-seekers/our-stories/healthcare/1234

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Yesterday’s amazing day!

Yesterday could not have gone any better! It started off a little later than planned. Feeling nervous, I waited, then heard the sound of the engine pull up. Going out to the car, and starting off on our journey, I was wondering, what can I expect. Upon arrival, I was met by the manager of the care team, plus the team of carers, with whom I’d be assigned too. Shaking hands, and briefly telling them, that I had no vision at all, we made our way up to the house, where I was to finally meet the client. I was also greeted by 4 bouncy dogs, sniffing at me. It was lunch time, and for the client, soup was the meal for the day. How nice too. Actually, funnily enough, it was a kind I like too. There was just one difference and one that I would now have to learn fast. Feeding, and the technique behind it. Now do excuse me for the incorrect spelling here, but feel free to correct me, but the term is bolas feeding. I had to learn a special technique, using a tube, and syringe. Nervously, I followed the carer’s every instruction, and step by slow step, obeyed. Shaking slightly, with well, nerves, plus excitement, at the fact I’d never done such complicated work before, and work that required such precision and concentration,, as well as no room for error, I was counting on myself to get it right. Finally, I achieved what was asked of me. I had however, made sure though, that I ended up doing that task every time we were required too. The carer had jokingly said to me, Sam, you’ve made sure you are doing it now. You seem to be more confident than I was when I first did it. You just walked in, and did that! Yes, I thought, I did. Walk in, and do something as professional as that? I think I have bragging rights. Hahaha. Only joking everyone. That chore over with, it was off out somewhere, for a drink of tea, or, well, what ever took your fancy. Again, I was thrust into the spotlight, proving once again, my skills. This time, out in public. When the lady who took me on as a volunteer saw what I’d done, she was amazed. Very pleased with my efforts. I didn’t even expect I would be doing that on my first day, lettelone outside too. Now, I just have to prove myself for a little longer, and then hopefully, who knows. All I can say is, a huge thank you, to everyone involved yesterday. It means so much. 

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If at first you don’t succeed…

What do you do when your chances of striking lucky at your desired career goal are minimal? The following is what you do, but this is what I did.

2013. A nervous looking lady of about 20 years old is waiting in the waiting area to speak to a neuropsychologist. Her desired career goal, is neuropsychology. She has come to the neuropsychologist, for her input and advice.

Finally, she is called and proceeds, with her sighted guide, into the room. “Hello. I basically wanted to ask you about your job really. What does it entail? What would I have to do? Could I do the job?” her response, was  something along the lines of that it would be quite visual and neurorehabilitation would suit me better.

At that present moment, the student had no-one really to contact, not even in the neuropsychology field, or anywhere. She was at a loss, or was she?

A few weeks later, and in the middle of an essay she is writing, she goes onto twitter. Finding a professor’s tweet, the president of the BPS, British psychological society at the time, she checks his profile and sends a message. “Good morning. My name is Samantha. I am totally blind, and eventually wish to become a neuropsychologist.” was the message, or a varient of that. Shocked to find a response, she read. It was full of enthewsiasm. Wow! This person has offered to back me, watch my journey, follow my progress? I can’t believe it!

But still, the olympic fight was still going on. SLT, was then recommended by someone to her. Off she went on the hunt for SLTs. First the RCSLTs were contacted. Asking them what they could offer, she waited for a response. The response, bleek and pesimistic. Again, the word visual had come upp. They said it was probably difficult.

Not wanting to give up, she continued the search, and found the head of SLT at her local hospital. Unfortunately, they were not forthcoming. Nor was the SLT after that, explaining that she would have to assess people for disphagia if she became an SLT. “I can do that. I possess a stethescope!” She exclaimed. It was not enough.

Asking Headway about neurorehabilitation, she waited, but they too did not know anything. Directing her to RNIB, they wished her good luck in her studies. But was the desired career and person who could help, right under her fingertips metaphorically speaking? Were they hiding somewhere and she just wasn’t searching hard enough. A few years later, and she was at home, browsing facebook, when she came across something. Someone had put something up. Looking more closely, she messaged the person involved. Finding out that they were the only company to treat people with brain injury in terms of neurorehabilitation on the Island, she found out, she had struck gold! The very person she wanted to find all along to gain experience, was able to help her, and as was she able to help them.

That student wanting that career in neuro-rehabilitation, is me. I found that person, I struck gold, I am awaiting the adventures and challenges that await me. Bring them on! The more I learn, the better, and the more I can offer my help in return, as one favour doesn’t go without a favour in return, the better. I will continue to study hard, go off on the olympics of searching and tracking people down if necessary, in order to get my desired career, helping others along the way, and all I can say to those who are helping me already, is a huge thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Neuro is where my heart is, where my heart lies, and it always will be. Thank you so much. Thank you so far, to my tutors, to the professors, and others watching my progress, it means so so much. Please feel free to follow, share, and read this blog. Once again, thank you. Thank you.

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Storms I may not come through?

This year at the OU, started out being good, making the modules accessible for me, and so far, getting good feedback. Little did I know however, things were to change. A storm was brewing, and I would not be rescued. At least, no-one was able to save me. There was going to be a lot of rough seas and I was meant to navigate through them. The waters would be high, and my metaphoric boat would be pitching, and rolling all over the place, with the possibility of capsizing.

 

Two weeks previous to the writing of this post, and I receive my results for my first level 2 TMA. Not expecting good results, I opened it, and heard a horrifying result. The mark was 42. A very low pass. Yes, I tried to tell myself, (Yes. You’ve passed.) (You’ve passed.) That’s all I tried to tell myself, but over the top of that, came a wave of anger, of upset, and annoyance. How could I have done so awful! This was not like me. 42? Why! I was informed my grades would dip, but surely not this low! I was trying not to cry, but broke. I could not hold it in. The tears were tears of frustration I suppose, tears of anger, anger at myself. I’d not just let myself down, but let others down, who expected more from me, but were too polite to say so. Now what was I to do. I was trying to improve, but every time I try, I fail. I thought, as a way of calming  myself, perhaps I’ve faired better on my other module, SDK228. Little did I know, a more nastier shock was in store.

 

Yesterday, the 8th December. I receive my email. As usual, I opened it, hoping against hope, it was better than the other one. I read the mark. It was similar to the other mark. Yes, I’d done well, but not as well as I’d hoped. Not again! I thought. A double-shock for me. I’d done well yes, but that’s not good enough. At that point, I just lay down in bed, buried myself in the bed covers, and began to cry. Cry with anger, depression at myself again,  upset at my dip. I felt utterly worthless. (Don’t talk to me anyone, just leave me alone. I don’t deserve it. I’ve just let you all down. Why would you want to be friends with someone that lets you down. Why do you want to help someone that lets you down? I know I’m going to prove everyone who thought I wouldn’t make it right aren’t I! I know I will) Anxiety, frustration, and depression was flowing last night. I eventually went to sleep, but not after crying. I dare not mention it to anyone. I mentioned to Nan this morning, I’d gotten somewhat good results, similar to last time, but I think I’d struggled with part of the question, and misunderstood it. She accepted that. For that, I’m grateful. I however, know that I for one, don’t want a repeat of this awful storm in the next two assignments. I need to somehow, get out of this metaphoric storm, and into the sunshine. Out of the thunderstorms, and/or tornados of frustration. I need to try harder. I know where I went wrong, so have to fix my errors, ASAP, before the end of these modules. I need a 1st, not a 2:2! No way do I want a 2:2,! Even if I have to push myself, i will! I”m not giving up! That’s not in me! I’m not a quitter. You can throw challenges at me, but I will find any way to overcome them.. Sometimes though, we all need a helping hand, or a little guidance. We’re too proud to admit that, I know, as I am. I have been.

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