Tag Archives: disabilities

Visual Languages Are Rich, Varied and Concept Based But Not Based on Words and Verbal Languages As A Foundation

It is hard to imagine not having words for anything at all. It is harder to imagine not having the language systems to give context and meanings to language and words. But, that is often what happens from traumatic brain injury, stroke and other physiological changes to the brain. It is part of it in many, many cases.

When looking for communicative devices and tools to help people with these difficulties, I noticed that most did not approach language as I did when trying to help myself recover from head injury’s effects. Almost all the tools on the market and suggested by neurology rehab groups were, (and still are), predicated on the assumption of basic language skills and systems within the brain being available to process them, context them and provide untold meaning to them. That doesn’t work in some basic sense when those circuits in the brain are damaged.

And, as much as I know circuits in the brain after an injury or stroke can be “rewired” or “retrained” in a sense and relearning can be done to some extent given enough time and efforts, it looks like the primary approach about language by rehab groups is off a little.

For a person who has never had any damage to their brain and their closest experience to that of the difference may have occurred when very sick, very tired or stressed and sick and tired at the same time, it is probably hard to imagine when there are no words, no context, no language, sounds unseparated and no more than a fabric of cacophony.

In that moment, an arrow to show the way to an exit can be as much a roof on a house with a stick under it without any sensible meaning to indicate why it is there. How could such a confusion occur? And, yet – it is the part that is taken for granted which gives an “arrow” any meaning at all – it is the language processing acquired skills AND sets of interactions within the brain which do that. Without those operating, an arrow is no more than an interesting shape without context, without meaning and may or may not even separate itself from surrounding visual, auditory and tactile information, (all of which is incoming simultaneously.)

Visual languages therefore are not a line drawing of an apple to indicate it is an apple. The circuits required to process the assumptions most people have learned to make about that shape and its meaning as an apple and what that is – don’t necessarily fire in a damaged brain’s circuitry. Obviously enough, the brain’s circuits have to fire in specific sequences AND interactions to get all that anyway. Many psychiatric drugs are designed to flood the brain with chemicals to make its circuits fire which unfortunately, in the case of people who have had physiological damage & injury to their brain doesn’t help much, because it all fires at once or those damage neuro-synapses fire indiscriminately or not at all – flooding the entire chemistry with overwash for lack of a better term. It doesn’t fix the brain injury, doesn’t fire the neurons and regions interactively nor in sequential processing that would be as an undamaged normal brain’s circuits would do and neither does it effectively allow other regions of the brain to take over those jobs and be “rewired” and “retrained” to do those new jobs.

Regardless, language areas of the brain are often damaged by brain injury and stroke as well as when other physiological damage occurs especially to areas considered the “left-side” of the brain where many, but not all – language centers are located. Strangely but maybe rightly so, often a person with brain injury has other assets strengthen when those language centers and left-brain processing areas are damaged. And the visual languages are literally based on these, which are commonly right-brain styled thinking and processing skills – though often damage will occur not specifically right or left as if only all of one or the other remain.

In a world where there are no words, sounds are not delineated into wordforms. The indications that a person is speaking, may or may not indicate some sounds are occurring there – literally. Having a word that defines a thing or a context of a thing, or action, or sequence, or time, or concept like “if” – simply isn’t onboard – it isn’t there – when head injury has taken those circuits and deleted them. Under those circumstances, what good is it for someone to hold up an apple and keep saying to me apple, then give to me a little card or indicator on a computer console for apple or show to me holding the apple and taking a bite of it? How, in my world – does that tell me anything? First, I don’t know what you said or where the words started or ended as sounds floating in the air. Second, you’re waving some ball at me with odd spaces and shapes on it that don’t make any sense and why is it red? or is it? And Third, nothing about it indicates to me it would ever be something to eat or put in the mouth – (but note, I would probably choke on it anyway because half my throat has trouble swallowing a lot of times, so I have to be very careful about eating things like bacon, apples, nuts, even cereal that don’t swallow easily.)

So, honestly – on top of everything else, if I were to recognize that apple for what it is – I won’t trust you much after that because obviously you don’t know enough about me or about head injury or stroked to know that damn thing can choke me to death trying to eat it. Really. You just walked over from being a helper to being a very scary and dangerous person as far as I can tell – and you don’t know any better on top of that. Those are survival skills that are quickly relied upon to help me or anyone else who has had brain injury or stroke, especially when that has occurred after old enough in childhood to know anything about others. Visual language clues give me data points – that is all. It doesn’t mean they will be processed, nor does it mean they will be processed accurately or in ways you would assume they should be. That book of what it “should mean” went out the window when head injury damage occurred. And, that is the truth.

In my world, visual languages helped me for many years and still do. What is hard to express, is how they aren’t based in the same way people know language and words and word precepts and word concepts and sound distinctions of those words. It is probably more closely based upon obvious and observable elements reconstructed into meaningful cognitive interpretations with a more integrated and holistic processing mode. For instance, in visual languages – the page of something can mean something, anything without ever one word meaning anything on that page – even if it is filled with words. It can be placed next to another thing and have context based only on that placement together or in relationship to one another – and maybe only for temporary convenience as a reminder or learning a concept – or as a communication, a permanent note-taking or mnemonic or something learned – or even as a device to extend that information (and consequently communicate) to another.

Let me go get a photo of a space under my desk and it shows one of those in action – I have today, the ability to communicate through writing, words and verbal languages but I still feel more adequate and at ease with the visual languages and those systems I’ve been using to compensate for head injury, so commonly I’m using them around my home and throughout my daily world.

Visual Language Adaptive Living Tools Example 1 CricketDiane 2013

For instance – there is an Encyclopedia Britannica open to two pages with many words but two photos of very beautiful stately rooms in palaces or famous homes – hardly matters what they are as long as they look like home to me – and next to it is a book that is closed – but in close proximity to the other where they are commonly viewed simultaneously together – and it is a book called, Popular Science Mechanical Encyclopedia with its logo on the front looking like gears – a large and a small one whose teeth are fitting together as they turn – and something inside the small one as if a ship has been built and runs as a result of these things. All that conveyed to me – simply to have them sitting near where I’m sitting now and see them together – which also reminds me to get off my dead butt and get some simply wonderful, mechanical whizbang stuff created to make my house into a nicer palace that I like and enjoy and can show off to others too. It also reminds me that I can.

– cricketdiane

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Introduction to this Visual Languages Blog for Independent Adaptive Living Tools and Compensating Strategies for People with Disabilities

Welcome to my newest addition –

Although there have been some posts on my main blog about the Visual Language Tools that I use and the Adaptive Living Tools that I use, this is the right place to learn more about them.

Visual Tools are like this – (as one example) (it is actually about half-way down pg)

DOOR OUT Sticker – for trailing along the pathway to the door and to place on the door where out can be found. – designed and developed by cricketdiane (that’s me.)
http://www.zazzle.com/door_sticker_visual_adaptive_living_tool_mnemonics-217059105070947138

Today, I am starting this blog with some of the information I’ve previously posted on my cricketdiane blog as well as the store on Zazzle which has allowed me to offer to the public – my tools and those I’m creating similar to mine that I use to help compensate for brain injury and other disabilities.

This store at Zazzle is an on-demand platform, which means that when something is ordered – it is then made as its seen on the site. Customers can customize, add text, change or alter the elements of the design I’ve made in order to suit their own specific needs of the moment. And, what I like about it – that can be ordered as just one – or as many. Pretty nifty.

Adaptive Living Tools & Visual Language Tools Store by CricketDiane (on zazzle)

http://www.zazzle.com/adaptivelivingtools*

That is the store address and there is another one I’ve made which has products that only have color on them (or some have patterns like glitter or checkerboard, etc.) Some of these can be used as a further visual tools group of products for visual language, mnemonics, organizing tools and adaptive living / compensating strategies elements. They too, can be ordered one at a time or several – and fully customized based on the needs of the moment.

Custom Design Palette Products With Only Color or Nothing But Pattern by CricketDiane (on zazzle)

http://www.zazzle.com/customdesignpalette*

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Though I haven’t started this blog well yet – its focus is intended to be a further explanation of using visual tools for language, mnemonics, everyday aids to compensate for disabilities’ shortcomings and difficulties. It is especially intended for mental / brain injury / intellectual / and emotional disabilities as from stroke, traumatic brain injury, head injury, domestic violence, post traumatic stress disorder and autism spectrum disorders (which challenge verbal skill sets.)

With each post, I would hope to explain a little more of how these tools were initially developed by me – to help myself live my daily life as interdependently and independently as possible with the hopes of being fully independent within the community much as anyone else. I say inter-dependently because it is important to realize that a circle of support / a network within the community of trusted advisers, mentors, helpers, friends and sometimes, professionals and social workers – can make it possible to live independently more or less successfully despite disabilities.

But, no one wants to need another to the extent that disabilities would have left me to need another. And, many people including the families of those with disabilities find themselves faced with this dilemma. As much as loved ones love me – neither I nor they want to have to do every single thing my physical living requires in a day – whether it is to wipe my own ass, or to remember to eat and the kinds of things to eat, or to remember how to button a shirt or to remember not to unbutton it in the first place & take it on and off by sliding it over my head.

No other person wants to be responsible for those infinite number of minutiae of everyday living for another person. And, it isn’t healthy for either person anyway. The caregiver tires of it and has their own life to live that was given to them AND the person with the disabilities has the greatest vested interest in being able to do it themselves and it be done right because they live with the real results (especially when it goes horribly wrong.)

I’ve also discovered it is not really safe to fully depend on others regardless. And, as I said – it isn’t healthy – not for the person with the disabilities, not for the caregivers and family members and certainly not for the community in the long run. It denies the full productivity of each one affected by it when the full dependence for everything that needs to be done for daily living of one person is put upon others to do or to keep up with getting it done.

There are vast stores of compensating strategies available for anyone to use. Unfortunately, those are rarely talked about – ever – by anybody. And, the reason for this is simple. No one wants anyone else to know they are using them when they are having to actually use them to function – so they don’t talk about it. The example where it is easy to see it – is for those whose shortcoming is illiteracy – they can’t read. Compensating strategies are often developed by people who have that difficulty including pretending they can read to let others see them doing it even though they can’t and tricking others into telling them what it says in the written words without letting on that they actually can’t read it themselves.

Those are easy to recognize compensating strategies because nearly everyone has heard of them where it concerns people who don’t know how to read. But rarely would anyone who has that problem tell of those things they are doing to compensate for it – and tell it honestly because they don’t feel good about why they are having to do it that way. That’s understandable.

So, the point is this – I’m going to write this blog to speak about visual language tools, visual languages (which are not as simple as a picture of an orange meaning an orange), compensating strategies for specifically brain-originating disabilities, visual and adaptive living tools, independent living for people with disabilities and specifically also about the tools that I’ve developed and have on my store for doing it. (Yes, I still use them myself to successfully navigate through each day and each moment of new tasks, new places, new experiences and understanding previous experiences, among other things.)

Not every tool that I use can be put on my store and some of those I’ll just share here in this blog and others can make them or get the pieces and construct them for themselves. Or, if I’ve found it through some manufacturer, store or resources – I’ll just say that and maybe if someone needs those tools, the things can be bought somewhere still. But, where the visual language tools need defining, explaining or for me to describe how I use them – I’ll put it here in this blog when I get to whatever it is and if someone wants to use it that way – fine. And, if they want to change it to use a somewhat different way – fine. And, if they want to use it exactly the opposite way of what works for me – fine. And, if something new or different is created as a result of being inspired to find some solutions that do work – then all the better and definitely what I want most out of all this.

So, welcome. I hope you will come back and read some more about these tools and strategies for living successfully and independently despite the drawbacks and difficulties of these disabilities. To start this off – I want to put the links here to other posts on my cricketdiane blog where I wrote about the visual and adaptive living tools awhile back – and then I’ll put some new things in the following days and hopefully, copy those posts over to their own special pages here on this blog –

Adaptive Living Tools Using The Visual Languages

http://cricketdiane.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/adaptive-living-tools-using-the-visual-languages/

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And this is the section of my larger store at cricketdiane which has some visual communicative identifiers and adaptive living tools also – (then I realized it needed to have its own store, I might not have put all these onto the adaptive living tools store. I don’t remember now. But I will.)

The section of the CricketDiane Zazzle Store with Visual Identifiers, Visual & Adaptive Living Tools – and the Nothing But Color section that preceded its own store as well – (has other colors than the custom palette store in some cases).

Color Code It & Visual Identifiers Designs (on the CricketDiane main zazzle store)
http://www.zazzle.com/cricketdiane/gifts?cg=196863584514247409

Nothing But Color Designer Products (on the CricketDiane main zazzle store)

http://www.zazzle.com/cricketdiane/gifts?cg=196960838491456085

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There were several blog post entries that I wrote about the adaptive living tools and visual identifiers – partly to explain how they came to be and why I use them, but also to explain how they can be used by others to make more things possible for them too. They are very customizable so it doesn’t matter if a black square magnet means one thing to me – it can be used another way by other families and people with disabilities to help know something or say something or to remember to do something.

And these two –

http://cricketdiane.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/adaptive-living-tools/

http://cricketdiane.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/adaptive-living-tools-using-the-visual-languages/
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Adaptive Living Tools & Visual Language Tools Store by CricketDiane (on zazzle)

http://www.zazzle.com/adaptivelivingtools*

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Custom Design Palette Products With Only Color or Nothing But Pattern by CricketDiane (on zazzle)

http://www.zazzle.com/customdesignpalette*

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