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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rachel's Brain

Rachel had her second speech/language therapy session yesterday. The therapist (Dr. Laurel) engaged Rachel in some casual conversation and saw even more of Rachel's speech issues.

She also had Rachel read some story cards. She feels that Rachel's language issues are definitely part of what is holding her back in reading. Rachel sees the word "beautiful" but her mind spits out the word "wonderful". If Rachel slows down her reading speed she can say the correct word, but then she loses her fluency, natural cadence, and ultimately her comprehension suffers.

She showed how Rachel categorizes things differently from the rest of us. She asked Rachel to choose toys that would be "cold" from a box of items. Rachel chose an ice cube, a popsicle, and a refrigerator. She didn't choose the snowflake because, "it doesn't stay cold for very long." So in her mind it didn't fit the category. It makes sense if you think about it, but it is not the first thought that comes to mind. For Rachel, it is the first thought.

Dr. Laurel had Rachel say the first thing that came to mind after she heard a word. For most of them she said the most common answer: "short, tall; happy, sad". But for others her answers were a little more different. For "beach", Rachel said "hot"; for "water", she said "hose"; for "strings", she said "lines".

All of that together shows that when she goes to retrieve a word from the "filing cabinet" in her brain, she ends up pulling the wrong word because they have been filed incorrectly from the beginning.

Personally, I think it is fascinating how the brain works. It is amazing to me to see how Rachel's brain works so differently. It explains why she gets so frustrated in "life". She just doesn't understand the world in the same way the rest of us do. In some ways, I like the way she sees things. It makes us stop and think (a snowflake isn't "cold" because it doesn't stay cold as long as a popsicle or an ice cube does). But, it also explains why she struggles so much in school.

And why she struggles with her peers. She doesn't understand them and they don't understand her. Adults find her viewpoint refreshing, imaginitive and "sweet", because they can usually decipher what she is saying. Kids her age can't. They just see her as weird.

Rachel's ability to view the world from a different angle is what makes her "Rachel" and I love that about her. Perhaps she will be the one that finds the solution to cancer, or peace in the Middle East, because she is the one who can see the solution, when the rest of us are restrained by our own "filing cabinets".
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