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Positive and negative feedback, especially if constructive, sends a shiver through my bones.

Just ten minutes. A live online presentation. Why for me should it be such a big deal?

I said to my wife that I have not problems delivering other people’s words (acting) and I have no trouble writing words for others to speak (speech writer, script writer), but what I loathe and struggle with is delivering my own words on any kind of platform.

Big fails on this count, emotionally at least would include:

  • My grandfather’s funeral
  • My groom’s wedding speech (I was pants at proposing too)
  • My father’s funeral
  • My mother’s funeral

Because it matters to me far too much when, and only when, the words that I give seem to emanate from my soul.

Let me blog, let me write letters, let me smoulder from my ears into the atmosphere with no expectation of feedback.

Both positive and negative feedback, especially if constructive, sends a shiver through my bones. Why is it that I crave confrontation, that I want to be mentally smacked around the head, then kicked up the arse and sent back into the fray to deliver some amazing show of ability?

We are all so, so, so very different, yet how we are taught, or expected to learn seems so very contrived, so set by context and numerous parameters.

I would prefer to be stuck in a cabin for a couple of weeks with an educator who hasn’t a clue about the subject, but is a natural educator, than someone who has ticked a collection of boxes in order to obtain their position. The natural educator can teach anything. The subject matter expert thinks they know everything.

eLearning can be the subject matter expect – ‘IT’ (literally) thinks it knows it all.

So, connect me, and for me connect students and educators – worry only about the desire and ability to teach or transmit and mange those hungry to gain knowledge, and for students concentrate almost entirely on motivation. If they want to learn pores will open up in their skull so that you can pour in the information and they’ll never be satiated.

The memory is the mind process happening in your brain, it can never be the artefact that plays back footage of an experience.


Fig. 1. Bill Gates featured in a 1985 copy of a regional computer magazine

In the introduction to ‘Total Recall’ Bill Gates wonders when he and Gordon Bell first met.

Was in 1983 or 1982. What was the context? Can they pinpoint the moment with certainty? I ask, does it matter? I ask, who cares? What matters is that they met. A moot point if either one of them claims that at this time one took an idea from the other … and they want to claim bragging rights for a new word or financial rights to a product.

The players in this game of life-blogging or developing the digitally automated photographic memory (total recall) are communicating, sharing ideas, creating or stating an identity, forming allegiances and developing ideas or hedging.

Our memory is  selective

Having some sense of what we put in and what we leave out, then having a way to manage what we retrieve how we use this and then add to the record.

As someone who kept a diary and put a portion of it online it surprises me and now worries me when a person I know says that x, or y found out something about them courtesy of this blog (posted 1999-2004).

 

Fig. 2. A grab from my Year 2001 Diaryland Blog. An evening out with the web hopefuls of Wired Sussex, Brighton.

I thought I’d locked the diary long ago – but of course various digital spiders have always been crawling the Internet snapping pages.

I think there are around 100 pages of some 1500 that I can never get back. It took me a few years to realise that I ought to change names and locations, but this became convoluted.


Fig. 3. Apple have started in an in-house business school, the Apple University, to teach people to be like Steve Jobs.

How might a digital record of a person have assisted with this? And what would be the warnings over diet and over behaviours?

The value of this content would be if I had a life worthy of a biography, but I am no Steve Jobs.

The value might still be for writing, though could have been even then a portfolio for specific subjects of study, such as geography, history, art, filming and writing. In these respects it still is.

Then it becomes an aid to the construction of ideas and the development of knowledge.

Personally, if I wanted to build on my knowledge of meteorology I would start with my Sixth Form classes with Mr Rhodes. I may have some of the newspaper cuttings I kept then of weather systems and may even being able to put some of these to photographs. I have a record of the 1987 Hurricane over Southern England for example.

I might tap into a Physics text book I first opened when I was 14 and recuperating at home from a broken leg.

There are those we know who have stored digitally the product of their illegal behaviour – paedophiles who are hoisted by their own petard when their digital record is recovered or identified. There may always be images that you may never want stored for later retrieval – a scene in a horror film that captures your attention before you flick channels, worse a real car accident … even making the mistake of clicking on footage of the hanging of Saddam Hussian. The image will be even less likely to be wiped from your memory if you have it stored somewhere.

Google, Facebook and other sites and services are not the only ones to capture a digital record of our behaviours – as I know if I write about and publish the activities of others.

Fig. 4. ‘Total capture’, as we ought to call it,  could be the digital equivalent of hoarding

Sensors on and in you will know not only about your body, but your environment: the location, temperature, humidity, sound levels, proximity to wireless devices, amount of light, and air quality. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p.217)

Just because we can, does not mean that we should. Bell has a record of such minutiae as when he blew his nose – he has too given the detail of what he captures. I know of someone with an obsessive disorder who keeps the paper tissues he uses to blow his nose.

For what purpose?

A data grab of Ridley Scott or some other director as they plan, develop and create a movie might be a fascinating and rich journey that would serve an apprentice well. A detailed recovery from an illness or accident too. There are problems for which a comprehensive digital capture could be a helpful, valid and possible response. How about wearable underpants that monitor your activity and heat up if you need to exercise – eHot Pants ?! Better still, a junior doctor who has to cram a great deal may extract parts of lessons. However, who or what will have structured these into bite–sized pieces for consumption? Is there a programme that could be written to understand what to grab then offer back? But who would pose the testing question? Or can AI do this? From a set of question types know how to compose one using natural language and create a workable e-tivity such as those produced by Qstream (were SpacedEd).


Fig.5. Watching students of the SCA at work I wonder how life-logging would assist or get in the way.

Reflection in working is a way to think through what they are learning – a grabbed record of kit on their person cannot construct this for them. Without a significant edit it would be cumbersome to review. In a digital format though it could be edited and offered back to aid review. Would the return of the bad or weak idea be disruptive or distracting? It could infect the unconscious. Would there not need to be a guide on how to use this log in the context given the outcomes desired? They can’t be up all night doing it.


Fig. 6 Age 17, for one month, I became a hoarder of a kind, of the pre-digital keep a record of everything kind.

A diarist already, starting a new school, back at home from boarding school and a new life opening up – so I kept bus and theatre tickets, sweet wrappers too. And when I sat down in the late evening to write the day I did so onto sheets of paper I could file. With no parameters I soon found myself writing for two hours. September 1978 is a book. Would a few lines a day, every day, in the tiny patch of a space in an off the shelf Five Year diary do? It would have to.

An exchange trip got the file treatment.

And a gap year job of five months was a photo-journal – one file. And then the diary resorted to one page of A4 in a hardback book. This self selection matters. It makes possible the creation of an artificial record or ‘memory’. The way content is gathered and stored is part of the context and the narrative, and by working within reasonable parameters it leaves the content, in 1980-1990 terms, manageable.

I have letters from parents, grandparents and boyhood ‘girlfriends’ from the age of 8 to 18 … and a few beyond.

Perhaps science and maths should have been the root to take? If there is value in reflection it is how I might support my children as they have to make subject choices, choices over universities and their careers beyond. Seeing this I am more likely show empathy to any young person’s plight.


Fig. 7. A boy’s letter home from Mowden Hall School. Presumably Sunday 14th July 1974 as we wrote letters home after morning Chapel. I can see it now, in Mr Sullivan’s Room, French. Mr Farrow possibly on duty. His nose and figures yellow from the piper he smoked … looks like I would have been younger. He never did turn up on Saturday … or any school fixture. Ever. See? The pain returns. 

I have letters I wrote too. I feel comfortable about the letters I wrote going online, but understandably shouldn’t ‘publish’ the long lost words of others. I might like to use the affordances of a blog or e-portfolio, but in doing so I would, like Gordon Bell, keep the lock tightly fixed on ‘Private’. Is it immoral to digitise private letters, even those written to you. How will or would people respond to you if they suspected you would scan or photograph everything, load it somewhere and by doing so risk exposing it to the world or having it hacked into.

People do things they regret when relationships fall apart – publishing online all the letters or emails or texts or photos they ever sent you?

Putting online anything and everything you have that you did together? Laws would very quickly put a dent in the act of trying to keep a digital record. In the changing rooms of a public swimming pool? In the urinals of a gents toilets? It isn’t hard to think of other examples of where it is inappropriate to record what is going on. I hit record when my wife was giving birth – when she found out she was upset. I’ve listened once and can understand why the trauma of that moment should be forgotten as the picture of our baby daughter 30 minutes later is the one to ‘peg’ to those days.

Selection will be the interface between events

What is grabbed, how is it tagged, recalled and used? Selection puts the protagonist in a life story back in control, rather than ‘tagging’ a person and automatically and comprehensively recording everything willy-nilly.

We don’t simply externalise an idea to store it, we externalise ideas so that they can be shared and potentially changed. Growing up we learn a variety of skills, such as writing, drawing or making charts not simply to create an analogue record, but as a life skill enabling communications with others. Modern digital skills come into this too.

Just because there is a digital record of much that I have done, does not mean I don’t forget.

If many others have or create such a digital record why should it prevent them from acting in the present? A person’s behaviour is a product of their past whether or not they have a record of it. And a record of your past may either influence you to do more of the same, or to do something different. It depends on who you are.

The memory is the mind process happening in your brain, it can never be the artefact that plays back footage of an experience.

REFERENCES

Bell, G., and Gemmel. J (2009)  Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything

Blackmore, Y (2012) Virtual Health Coach. (accessed 28 Jan 2013 http://mobihealthnews.com/16177/study-virtual-coach-improves-activity-levels-for-overweight-obese/

Isaacson, Walter (2011). Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography (Kindle Locations 3421-3422). Hachette Littlehampton. Kindle Edition.

Ituma, A (2011), ‘An Evaluation of Students’ Perceptions and Engagement with E-Learning Components in a Campus Based University’,Active Learning In Higher Education, 12, 1, pp. 57-68, ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 December 2012.

Kandel, E. (2006) The Emergence of a New Science of Mind.

Kennedy G., Dalgarno B., Bennett S., Gray K., Waycott J., Judd T., Bishop A., Maton K., Krause K. & Chang R. (2009) Educating the Net Generation – A Handbook of Findings for Practice and Policy. Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Available at: http://www.altc.edu.au/ system/files/resources/CG6-25_Melbourne_Kennedy_ Handbook_July09.pdf (last accessed 19 October 2009).

Mayer-Schönberger, V (2009) Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Myhrvold, N Princeton Alumni (accessed 29 Jan 2013 http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pwb/04/1122/ )

Schmandt-Besserat (1992) How Writing Came About.

Vernon, J.F. (2011) Life according to Anais Nin, Henry Miller and Samuel Pepys
(accessed 28 Jan 2013 http://mymindbursts.com/2011/08/13/1162/ )

W. Boyd Rayward Wells, H,G. World Brain.
http://people.lis.illinois.edu/~wrayward/HGWellsideaofWB_JASIS.pdf

Waybackmachine
http://archive.org/web/web.php

Wixted and Carpenter, (2006) “The Wickelgren Power Law and the Ebbinghaus Savings Function,” 133– 34.

 

 

Is attention and effort the key to success?

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Fig. 1 Attention and Effort. Available as a pdf.

THIS is what I adore about the Internet and eBooks. I can do what comes naturally to me, follow my natural inclinations, just as I did when studying as an undergraduate. The huge difference was that finding and ordering a book from the stacks of the Bodliean took between 2 hours and 2 days. I get impatient today if downloading 250 page PDF to an ipad takes longer than a minute – if I think I could boil the kettle it is too long.

I no longer read a non-fiction book from cover to cover in the conventional sense – I see no point at all in putting off references ’til the end. In ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ Kahneman gives an author and title – I start to Goolge the phrase or author and it not only finishes off my search descriptor but finds what I want. Should I be able to download as a PDF a book (or is it a paper) published in 1973?

My reading process now looks like the essary writing plan my brilliant Geography teacher gave me back in Lower Sixth.


Fig.2 How an essay should look – the stem is the instroduction and conclusion, the stamen is the essay title and the petals the six or seven points you need to make. After Mr D ‘Dusty’ Rhodes, the R.G.S. 1979.

Reflection on learning (A personal take)

I am undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For the last 18 months, initially every two weeks and now every month I see a therapist. I pay for this myself as the NHS could only offer 20 minutes every six weeks and said I was just ‘a bit depressed,’ – ‘like most people.’

Five years ago I was temporarily diagnosed A.D.H.D.

This was turned on its head by specialists in London who couldn’t distract me and found that as the tasks I was giving to do got harder my concentration improved. Ritlan had been fun. My problem was boredom. Always has been. Whenever there is a family gathering should we discuss the first words of various nieces and nephews, let alone the adults, one of my siblings or my mother will say my first word was ‘why?’ and my first phrase was ‘I’m bored.’

I’m still bored and I’m still asking why. I was 49 last week.

I think too much. Rather than thinking less, please can someone put me in a situation where I can think until my brain hurts.

A best moment for me, outside the exam room … a TV programme than was going to go live in 90 mins. The MD pulls the entire theme and my producer looks at me and says let’s do something new from scratch. It was that or waste the expense of presenters, camera crews (live, multi-camera, galley staff, support staff etc: etcsmile No rewrites, no rehearsals, that script was handed out with minutes to go. Unprepared the interviewees were fresh. it worked. I’m good at doing ‘from the top of my head.’

By reflecting on how I behave in certain situations, coming to understand the situations and my upbringing I am changing some of my behaviour – much of the time. This ‘reflection’ has at times been recorded, transcribed and chewed over – just like this. More often I treat the moment, the hour for what it is> I do wonder if I dwelt on it more often, whent back over these discussions if I would embed the change?

My late father when in his mid-twenty to mid-thirties ( I am told and believe) would spend an hour or so with his mother coming home. (That or he was having an affair – more likely?) Something of a matriarch my grand-mother, I could imagine this regular reflection facilitating and guiding my father’s success. Reflection or dictation, being told what to do or coming to yor own decisions? I wonder. It’s value, doubtful beyond building a substantial PLC. In terms of his relationships (catastrophic he went through four marriages). I was staying with him as marriage three collapsed. He was attending Relate. He enjoyed these sessions, admitted he was probably mad and came out of these sessions rationalising who he was without any intention of changing. It gave him an excuse.

If any component of this was reflection, then it was reflection reinforced a modus operandi, rather than changing it.

Wherein lies my issue with reflection and blogging. Is it necessarily something that results in change, or even something for the better?

Didn’t Hitler write Mien Kampf while gaoled? This is narcissistic, self-indulgent reflection that gave him the opportunity to develop self-belief in his warped ideas.

See, reflection can back-fire, bringing the worst out of people, not necessarily the best.

The desired outcome of reflection as a form of thinking in an academic context is to help embed ideas and facts.

It is an aid to a neurological process, by using the information in a variety of ways it comes to matter more, priorities are made, choices taken, you form you own view of what matters and what does not. However, you share this reflection and immediately it is being written for an audience; you reflect and submit this as evidence in an assignment and the first thing you do is to check the requirements of the paper, and how it will be marked and then you adjust, edit and as a consequence contort the truth that reflection should try to uncover.

If reflection has worked then I can see a need to return to live or as-live TV. I thrive on pressure – head pressure.

A visit to the Neuropsychiatry Unit

A visit to the Neuropsychiatry Unit

The usual stuff

I write from 2.30 a.m. to 4.30 a.m. At 6.20 a.m. precisely a small boy gets me up.

Itake the train into London; it takes 2 hours. I arrive with 30 minutes to spare, 20 minutes of which is spent finding my way around the sprawl of the South London and Maudsley Hospital.

The unusual bit

I have an appointment in the Adult ADHD Clinic of the Neuropsychiatry Unit

Is this a coping mechanism? Using the Psion in strange places ? On a train, in reception of a hospital.

It is like a scene from Brazil, the porter is cross-eyed, the receptionist has an unintelligible accent.

I shouldn’t feel like this is a job interview, I don’t have to fake it.

An hour was spent with a clinical psychologist undertaking a series of six tests.

These were designed to test my perceptions, understanding, level of education and I.Q. Once I understood the demands, and some of the tests became extraordinarily complex, I was in my element. In all cases I ploughed through each set of tests only coming to an eventual halt one or two pages off the end. When the Psychologist said she couldn’t do the last section I wasn’t surprised. I have an IQ of 155. Wherein lies the problem.

The only two places I fell short was when artificial ‘distractions’ were put in place and when the test was long and easy – for example, identifying sets of figures in a telephone directory like lay-out while listening out for then counting a series of background tones and then completing a ‘snap’ like game on a computer screen – during long sequences when there wasn’t a match I started to dwell on how I sometimes forget my lines on stage during performances of Shakespeare at University. (I played Mercutio in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that was performed in Magdalen College Chapel, for example)

After this I sat in an empty waiting room and completed a number of forms that were designed to determine my state of mind; am I happy, sad, angry, depressed?

The tests were:

1. Barkley Scale

2. As an adult

3. HAD Scale

4. Culture Free S.E.I

5. Anger Inventory

6. Directions

I had time, and to relieve my boredom, I wrote down the questions for your benefit. I’ll turn this lot into a ‘Survey’ on depression.

They were all ‘closed’ questions, with a scale along the lines of ‘a lot, moderately so, a little, not at all’

Barkley Scale

So, for example,

Do you/are you:

Fail to give close attention to details or make careless mistakes in my work?

Fidget with hands or feet or squirm?

Have difficulty sustaining my attention in tasks or fun activities?

Leave my seat in situations in which sitting is expected?

Don’t listen when spoken to directly?

Feel restless?

Don’t follow through on instructions and fail to finish work?

Have difficulty engaging in leisure activities or doing fun things quietly?

Have difficulty organising tasks and activities?

Feel ‘on the go’ or ‘driven by a motor?

Avoid, dislike or am reluctant to engage in work that requires sustained mental effort?

Talk excessively?

Lose things necessary for tasks or activities?

Blurt out answers before questions have been completed?

Easily distracted?

Have difficulty waiting turn?

Forgetful in daily activities?

Interrupt or intrude on others?

Restless or overactive?

Excitable, impulsive?

Disturbed other adults?

Fails to finish things you started – short attention span?

Constantly fidgeting?

Inattentive, easily distracted?

Demands have to be met immediately -easily frustrated?

Cries often and easily?

Mood changes quickly and drastically?

Temper outbursts, explosive and unpredictable behaviour?

Similarly, on a scale from: ‘not very often, not often, occasionally, hardly at all, most of the time, nearly all of the time’ answer the following:

HAD Scale

I feel tense or wound up ___________________

I feel as if I am slowed down ___________________

I still enjoy the things I used to enjoy ___________________

I get a sort of frightened feeling like ‘butterflies’ in the stomach ___________________

I get a sort of frightened feeling as if something awful is about to happen ___________________

I have lost interest in my appearance I ___________________

I can laugh and see the funny side of things___________________

I feel restless as if I have to be on the move ___________________

Worrying thoughts go through my mind ___________________

I look forward with enjoyment to things ___________________

I feel cheerful___________________

I get sudden feelings of panic ___________________

I can sit at ease and feel relaxed ___________________

I can enjoy a good book or radio or TV program ___________________

After all of this I spent 90 minutes with a Consultant Psychologist. He quizzed me for an hour, then assessed my test results and came back with the following:

It turns out I have a ‘superb IQ’ but I have tendency to distractibility

In the US I might be diagnosed as having ADHD, not so in England where all management of the psychosis is with stimulants such as Ritalin.

It appears that what matters for me is the environment in which I work and time management.

I thrive under pressure, when set a demanding challenge, where my goals are clear. The less demanding the task the greater the need for exam like conditions.

I am easily bored, a boredom that is satisfied by allowing myself to be distracted. This makes perfect sense to me. When writing a weekly new programme for Renault I was fine, better still when a week’s work had to be turned around in a few hours. When given major projects, substantial training videos for example, to turn around in several months I have been fine too. Where it has gone wrong has been when there isn’t the work, where I am expected to ‘tread water’ or undertake mundane, non–engaging tasks to fill the day for which I am being paid.

I could take an anti-depressant, if I return to work then it should be a job where I am set clear short term goals with equally clear rewards and penalties. It shouldn’t be overly stressful, so I won’t be selling space in magazines then.

At the age of four I went to a Child Psychologist

I undertook similar tests to those above. Then, as now, it was shown that I had a high IQ and a tendency towards boredom. My mother was supposed to cope by ‘tiring me out’ – so I went swimming most days. I didn’t stop me being easily bored, or distracted, but I slept better and became a reasonable swimmer.

My conclusion

I keep applying for and accepting the wrong job.

I may have been better suited to being a lawyer, or neurobiologist … or doctor. Something that challenges. A bit late now

The next best thing? Live TV. Location filming. Period costume. Crowd scenes. At night and underwater (which I have done. see JJ27VV on YouTube)

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