I have had an incredible week of ups and downs.
I am going to choose to focus on writing about one of the many ups and what I have learned and gained this week.
My son turns 6 next week, and I am just awestruck by that fact.
All the years that we waited for him to come to us, and now he is turning 6!
And its just fascinating to watch his brain develop and his cognition develop.
He’s writing his name.
At Thanks giving, he made place cards (a family tradition) and wrote the names of each family member who would be attending on a card for them.
He didn’t know how to spell everyone’s name, but he was sure excited (and empowered) to write it down when I helped him sound it out.
I am just completely overwhelmed (in a good way, today) that all the work that I have done to understand and rebuild my neural pathways after brain injury have helped him develop his own skills.
He’s curious and he loves learning.
And watching him manifest improved functioning from new learning is just an amazing thing to watch.
I know I said that already, but I had to say it again as I pinched myself.
What a gift that I have been able to give him.
I don’t think I would have been able to give him all the gifts of learning that I have been able to give him had I not had my injury.
I think most parents hope to give the gift of learning to their kids, so I am not usual in the desire.
In addition to that desire, however, my concussion/brain injury has helped me understand much about the developing brain that I wouldn’t have understood about the brain if not for my injury and my rehabilitation both on my own and with the help of many, many others.
Giving the gift of learning to my son is, frankly, the best gift that I have given ever given.
It makes me feel very good about myself.
I realized after I published this post that I did not really spell out how I gave him the gift of learning.
So I wanted to add one gift that I have given him because of my brain injury.
I ran into his preschool teacher yesterday, Ms Joyce, and she reminded me of the importance of good attention for children.
Because of my brain injury, I understand the importance of attention.
Before my brain injury, I had not idea what attention really was. I have learned about it because I had to rebuild my attention over a long period of time with great professionals including my vision therapy doctor and my speech and language therapist and my occupational therapist and a hearing doctor. I know what its like when not to have my attention because it took a long time for me to get to all the appropriate therapists who could help me with attention.
Attention is the ability to take in what one has sensed or heard (my definition from my experience).
If someone says to me “1, 2, 3, 4, 5”, then it is the cognitive skill of attention that allows me to take in the numbers and the numbers in the order that they were received. So when I repeat back that I heard “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” I am using my attention.
Attention is the cornerstone of other cognitive skills. You need attention before one can concentrate and you need attention before one can learn.
Because I know the importance of attention, I could help my son learn attention.
(And his knowledgeable preschool teachers did also as well as many others!)
I say its a cornerstone and you will see why I say that when I tell you what concentration is. Concentration happens after one is able to attend. Concentration is manipulating what I just received through attention (my definition).
So I can manipulate these numbers if someone asks me to say the numbers I just heard backwards.
Concentration is saying “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”
I believe that I could never have done the extra work that I have been able to do for my son, if I had not learned to understand what attention was for myself, and what it’s like not to have attention.
I know through my own painful experience the havoc that poor attention can reap on my ability to concentrate and learn.
Because I was an adult when I had my injury, my brain just attended with out me knowing it.
I had no idea that my brain did it.
And now I have been able to give the gift of attention to my son and I am watching him reap the benefits and its an amazing gift to give!