The fear of driving

I came off the excitement of Governor’s School to begin my junior year with braces. The wires, rubber bands and brackets on my teeth were cumbersome. Using wax didn’t help much to protect my gums from stray wires that poked out. Braces were challenging to clean, and wearing headgear at night was just a pain. I wasn’t a very cooperative patient, but eventually the braces did their thing and helped to correct an overbite. Mine stayed with me through at least the first year of college.

Junior year meant officially being considered an upperclassman. Many, well most, of my classmates were now driving to school. I was 17 at the start of the year and still hadn’t shown much interest in driving. I knew how much responsibility I would be taking on by driving, and I was scared.

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Feeling lost in history

In tenth grade I took honors English and history (Ancient and Medieval history, to be more accurate). Both classes thoroughly kicked my butt. Over the summer we had a massive research project for history. I consider having to look up 30-40 people and events and write maybe half a page on them explaining their significance a massive project. Again I wasn’t good with doing research. Some of them didn’t have their own entry in encyclopedias or other resources I looked at, so I didn’t know where else to try. And for whatever reason, it still seemed like a cop out or failure to ask the librarian for help. I didn’t do very well for that project. That wasn’t a good introduction for the class.

I suppose I could have dropped the class upon learning about the summer requirements, but I didn’t. Maybe I didn’t realize that was an option.

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Embrace the squeaky shopping cart

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This weekend I was visiting with my parents to celebrate Mom’s birthday. It was nice to be able to get away from work and spend time with family, no matter how brief.

There was a moment when I was out shopping that I had a little epiphany. I’m sure you have similar instances when a seemingly random object or event suddenly evokes greater meaning.

While out shopping, the cart I grabbed seemed just fine, but after a few steps it was quite clear this one had a problem with a wheel. It was loud, rattling and didn’t want to go straight. This was going to be a short trip in the store so I kept it.

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Conversation hijackers and other communication problems

So, previously on the blog I’ve described some of the internal struggle with communication, the spinning Rolodex in search of information, in search of something worthwhile to share.

But there are other external factors that impact communication.

Perhaps I’m over-analyzing a particular encounter I had in high school. Perhaps I’m remembering it wrong. It’s entirely possible. I honestly don’t think those details are the thing to focus on, though, because the feeling I had afterward are what have stayed with me for so long.

I was in the school cafeteria, waiting for the morning bell to ring so that I could go to my locker and get ready for class. And I was talking to another girl. She was describing a concert she had been to over the weekend.

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The freshman experience

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I wanted an image of something where you would think it’s daunting in the beginning, but once you get in the middle of things it doesn’t seem quite so bad. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But it has that climbing a mountain thing working for it, which also applies.

Isn’t it funny how things seem more intimidating on that first day but then become less imposing as you become more acquainted with it, whatever “it” happens to be?

This high school seemed huge when I came over a few years earlier for my brother’s orientation. Some classrooms had two doors, so we’d enter through one and out the other on the guided tour. I guess that coupled with the route we took made it seem like the school was bigger than it really was and that it was possible to get lost in it, at least to a sixth-grader. But in reality, the school was one long hall with two small hallways branching off.

Ah, the power of perspective!

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Preschool through 8th grade: Where do things stand?

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Since my preschool diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and the completion of eighth grade means about 10 years have passed, I thought I would do a review of how things have progressed. I’m looking to address these questions:

  • What areas seemed to have improved?
  • Have I grown out of anything?
  • What am I still struggling with?
  • Has anything new developed?

If you missed my big rundown of sensory issues, you can find it here. And don’t worry, throughout this list, there will be links back to appropriate blog posts to offer further explanation. 

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How this writer got her start

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Teachers are sneaky about finding ways to get students familiar with talking in front of the class.

In kindergarten, first grade and maybe even second grade, it’s disguised as show and tell. You’re bringing in an item from home that you love and talking about it. Early on, teachers emphasize the importance of sharing what you love.

That’s public speaking in its purest form. Eye contact isn’t evaluated as much and neither is the smoothness of your delivery. You’re just sharing to the best of your ability.

So those are good building blocks that progress through each grade level.

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All twisted up with learning cursive

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Last year, I had an opportunity to write about my experience with sensory processing disorder. It was an in-depth piece with a broad overview of the symptoms and characteristics that I encountered, as well as areas where I continue to struggle. This is the raw, unedited version of how I began that piece, a snapshot of my classroom experience with learning to write in cursive.

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Plea to teachers: Be patient with questions

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Every teacher has a moment at least once a day when a student asks a question about something that has just been explained, and the teacher’s natural reaction is “Weren’t you listening?”

Asking questions in class and seeking clarification is scary. At some point, a person gets ridiculed for asking. Maybe it seems like poor timing, even in a situation like this:

Teacher: (wrapping up a long discussion of what to expect and what sections to review) The test will be Friday. … (Brief pause) … Any questions?

Student: When’s the test?

I know it seems easy to write off a scenario like this as the kid zoned out or was clearly not paying attention. I’m sure there are ways of judging that.

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Around the world in 15 minutes: The importance of goal setting

In second grade we were learning our multiplication tables. I believe we covered 0 x 0 through 12 x 12. But we weren’t simply learning these answers. Our teacher wanted it to become second nature, so you could see the combination and instantly rattle off the answer. Yes, it has tremendous real-life applications, but for students with learning disabilities, it’s a bit more difficult.

We had these quick tests where we had to solve 20 to 30 problems within a minute. Well it wasn’t simply testing your knowledge of the material but how quickly you could recall it. If your brain has trouble relaying information in time, quick recall isn’t going to be a strong suit. Those tests were more anxiety-inducing for me than demonstrating academic mastery.

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