Posts Tagged ‘dyslexia’

Coffee, Case Notes, and Lies

January 12, 2010

It’s coffee time. At last, I reckon. My brain is not happy.

I’m trying to get some case note stuff up to date.

Oh yeah, before I forget. The coffee is wonderful stuff, New Guinea Kongi Gold. It’s from our favourite coffee roaster who has coffees from all over, this one is lovely. We get him to grind it in the store. I figure that his $2,000 (or $5,000, whatever it cost) coffee mill is going to do a better job than one of those spinning blade things we might get for home use. And when it’s being ground the aroma explodes into the air. It’s like standing in a rain forest and having the whole aromatic under-storey cascade over your head.

So, time-out time. With a mug of coffee in one hand I can mouse over to WordPress and blog for ten minutes – anything to get my mind off whatever it was on. Now, where was I? That’s it, case notes. Blerch!

Case notes and me? We’re not the best of friends. It’s not as if we’ve ever done anything to annoy each other. It’s just that we don’t get on very well. Most of my case notes are short and sharp. That’s good. But I only ever write them in my appointment diary. I see a client, I write up a sentence or two about what we discussed etc, that’s it. The rest is kept in my head. I can often remember ‘the rest’ with a client a year or more later. It’s how some people’s heads work.

Touble is, those people up there, the higher ups I mean, they want more. They want real notes. On a computer. They don’t really like my head notes. Well, OK, that’s not fair. It’s just that they can’t read them. So whose fault is that?

I’ve been two years in my current work.¬† That’s two thirds of the way through our pilot project. It’s time to make a formal report so we can extend the funding. That means I have to write stuff that other people can read. You have no idea how I wish I had a scanner that would just read my head notes and download them into some software application, all neat and tidy.

So here I am, sitting at my computer with my diaries for 2008 and 2009. It’s a start. All I have to do is read every page and type it up. But this is where it get’s all odd.

Case note software has all these boxes and slots and little areas for different bits of information. Sometimes I can’t read them. I’ve got this reading problem, a dylsexia kind of thing. Reading text is OK for me, but reading stuff in little boxes is a different story. I look at the format and my head goes blank. The page doesn’t mean anything. The same thing happens when people do Powerpoint with too much litter.

On one occasion last year I was in a planning meeting and the ‘King of Powerpoint’ in my organisation was suggesting a format for work procedures with lots of boxes and charts and arrows pointing to circles etc. – ‘the full catastrophe’ as a friend of mine would call it. One of the other managers looked at me and smiled, saying, ‘It’s OK Kim, you don’t have to look at this.’

The funny thing is I have no trouble just writing. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. When I’m on a keyboard there is some part of my mind that gets bypassed and the words appear as I think them. Writing stuff that I make up as I go is no problem.

Reading is the same. It’s only when the format of columns and rows etc gets me that my head won’t follow along.

And the stuff I write? The books and stories? It’s fiction. It’s all lies. I make it up as I go along. None of it is not true.

Can you see how this case note stuff is going to end up? I wonder if I should just invent  a case-load of clients, fabricate a diary full of appointments, construct a series of interviews, posit a range of outcomes, cobble together some recommendations, and send it off to the higher ups. Yep, that should do.

This coffee is good stuff. It’s really sharpened my mind and I can now see the way forward. Thanks for listening.

Now, I’d better get back to work.

It All Adds Up In The End

August 20, 2008

When my son was in primary school I was coach of his cricket team. There were two fathers prepared to do it, the other guy was a detective. These boys had the Rector from the local church and a copper as coaches. The combination gave great opportunity to those with a sense of humour.

But one of the funniest things was the boy’s reaction to my inability to count up to six. I can do it for most things, like quietly putting six cans of baked beans into the shopping trolley to ‘help’ my wife when she’s shopping. Put six sheep in front of me and I’m OK with that. Or six anythings that need counting. But get me to stand as umpire in a cricket game and count six balls to the over and my dyslexic brain can’t do it.

“Use the clicker, Mr Miller”, the boys would say.

“I am using it. But I forget if I’ve clicked it for each ball or not.”

The trouble with the clicker was that I could forget as fast as I clicked. After all, I was checking the bowler’s foot to make sure he didn’t cross the bowler’s crease. I was keeping my eye on the stumps and the batsman’s pads to see if he was bowled out. I was checking those two boys out there who seemed to have drifted from their fielding positions and into a conversation about girls instead of keeping their attention on the game. I was probably thinking of whether I’d put six cans of baked beans in the trolley or only five. Who knows what my brain was doing apart from trying to keep count?

Then there was the score sheet. If you have never seen a cricket score sheet I suggest you do a bit of googling. But be warned, you will need a PhD in mathematics or process engineering or cosmic hyperology in order to understand it. There are little boxes littered all over the page and every box is crying out for a number. “Fill me, fill me,” they cry like puppies in a pet shop window.

The boys were not allowed to fill in the score sheet. That had to be done by the umpire. After all, there’s an accountability issue here that we took very seriously in the cricket comp in that town. Only an adult could be trusted with all those boxes and all those numbers. Even an adult with the number crunching ability of a cricket bat.

We got through it. The boys would stand in a circle behind me.”Put a 2 in that box, Mr Miller!” they would yell. “Put a 1 in that box! Put a 6 in that box!” I liked those sixes, it meant that the boys were having a great game. Schoolboy cricket is made up of sixes. Sixes hit, sixes missed or sixes imagined. Six is the magic number to a boy in a cricket hat.

The result of that clicker and all those boxes was that we had some fun playing cricket. We won about as many games as we lost. The boys had somebody who cared what they were doing on Thursday morning before school and Saturday morning on the pitch. And I found new ways of trying to explain to a bunch of growing boys why adults are not quite as functional as they think we should be.