Today Louise had speech therapy. She will get it two days a week. The focus today was her reading. She liked the therapist, which had been a concern of ours since she really liked the speech therapist at the rehab center. Ray said that they worked on recognizing words and writing words. The therapist explained that Louise hasn’t lost the information she cannot remember, she simply cannot retrieve it. The portion of her brain that controls her memory filing system was damaged, or possibly removed, and that is the cause of the trouble she is having now. The way the therapist worked with her today was by showing Louise several pictures and one word. She had to pick the correct picture. Ray said she did very well on recognizing the words and writing some of them. The next step would be to remove the pictures and see if she can tell the word without them.
This is a technique to help a reader to connect the word to something more concrete, thereby giving an association. When there is something associated with the word, it is easier to pull it up in your memory. This is the same principle used with children who may not know words because they have a lack of experience with the item. For example, if a student has never seen a chandelier the word is harder to remember because it is abstract. If you can show them a picture to connect with the word, understanding comes more quickly. If you can actually show them the item…a real chandelier…they will be more likely to remember long term. This is one reason that under privileged kids have a harder time reading, they lack the life experiences to make the connections. Oops…slipped into teacher mode for a minute.
Anyway, the therapy is going well, but of course Louise still does not think so. I talked with her on the phone and she said, “I have to keep trying and make the best of it.” She admitted that cooking is harder than she thought it would be and that grocery shopping is also difficult for her. I told her that once I am out of school I will take her shopping and we will figure out ways to help her feel better about it. I can color code the kitchen if it will help. We had to do that when we were house parents for mentally challenged men many years ago. None of them were readers so we had to teach them to cook without reading. It is always amazing to me how God uses your past experiences. I have had to use the strategies I learned in that house many times over.
She is also frustrated with the number of doctors and medicines and treatments. I told her that it isn’t easy even when your brain is working right, so I know she must be frustrated. She knows she has appointments, but cannot seem to remember when and what they are doing. She cannot say the word radiation and many other “cancer” terms are foreign to her ears, much less her mouth. When she talks about it she mumbles a lot whenever she cannot get the word. You kind of have to fill in the blanks. She said she was glad that Bill came because he seems to understand what the doctors say.
Last but not least, the food has started to arrive. The church Sunday School class is bringing dinner. Tonight someone from the dulcimer group brought some as well so they had two dinners. The different groups are not coordinating with each other so this could be a problem. I know the church has a system set up, so if you are in the dulcimer group, or hiking club and you want to do a dinner check with Ray first to make sure they do not have other food coming. Also Sunday School people, if you could let him know the schedule so he can let others know what nights they can come it would be helpful. The concern here is that they will have a ton of food that they cannot eat. She said they have someone bringing dinner every night this week…she thinks, but cannot remember who. She can talk to you on the phone if you call her, just make sure Ray knows when you are bringing the food. Great friends, being the hands of Christ to her. You are all a blessing.

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