Cognitively speaking

I’ve been meaning to post for awhile, but have found it difficult to coordinate the time, energy, and words, which I guess is a great example for this post.

In May 2017 I had a fall. I broke both ankles and incurred some serious spine damage which was not diagnosed until I recovered from ankles and concern was raised why I wasn’t fully recovered. In response to this I had effects from my general anaesthetics and painkillers.

I had (have) some cognitive impairment. My cognitive impairment got me thinking about the adults with disabilities that I support and the underappreciation of the cognitive impairments that they might have.

Here were some of the impairments that I noted (please note, essentially I am noting my conscious incompetence and possibly missing features of unconscious incompetence):

– short term memory losses (did I say that already?)

– reduced auditory processing (I didn’t get hooked on SBS Nordic crime for my love of all things high Northern hemisphere, but because I could only understand written subtitles and not speech on TV)

– word finding problems (I had to call up my son’s name to remember my next procedure – the Curtiszone injection)

– inability to distinguish target vs field sounds (a hatred of being in a room in which more than one conversation was happening – and an overwhelming desire to scream “shut upppp!”)

– oversensitivity to noise (such that just closing my eyes helped me escape and find a happy space).

– a tendency to just answer yes to choice questions (“what do you want for diner?” “Yes”)

– problem solving requiring a systematic approach and longer time

– a desire to break down in tears in difficult situations (let’s not talk about trying to find black shoes for school concert and Curtis having to say in the middle of KMart “mummy, get off the floor”)

– a reduced tolerance for anything irritating (and a tendency for most things to be irritating)

– a rigidity of thought and need for clarity (and sorry, what does the term AAC really mean?)

– a tendency to be a much nicer person when enough pain killers were given to numb the soul.

So the last 6 months have given me a deeper understanding of these impairments.

I reflect that we often presume that the people we support have clear thinking minds, but what if they have any of these thing above or any other cognitive differences? What is the long term impact of a neurologically based intolerance? What is the impact on “social inclusion” if you feel overwhelmed by the sounds, sights, and movements? What judgements are made when a person can’t remember what you just told them? What happens if we presume that lack of response is due to lack of comprehension, when it might be being in too much pain to process or respond?

I am lucky; for me, these things should pass. But expect an (oh shit what was the word) excavation, excalation, getting biggerer of them in the next month as I enter surgery again next Monday. But do spare a thought for people that you know who have cognitive differences…

Ps. Post the bloody word to me if you know what it is

One thought on “Cognitively speaking

  1. Thanks Sheri.Ithinkmany people will appreciate your insights and empathise. Pain and trauma have huge impact on our lives and we should be especially cognisant of this when supporting people with cognitive difficulties.

    Like

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