Formerly "Neil Stone Updates"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hard, Ain't It Hard

I think the TV show is a go. They have filmed Neil twice, and plan on coming back for more. Alexis, our favorite producer(actually, the only producer I know), asked me to answer some questions about Neil's challenges and progress to help them as they plan Neil's "story." Since it took some time and a lot of thought to do, I decided to share some of what I wrote on Neil's blog as well. So here are Neil's current challenges. I'll include the progress part later.

Neil's current impairments and challenges--

-----His left hand is stiff and spastic--some muscles are just too tight so he can't control his wrist and finger movements well. Botox injections have helped relax the spastic muscles a bit, and therapy improves everything He may need more Botox, and will certainly need more therapy. Because he is left-handed, Neil is trying to learn to write with his right hand. His writing is mostly illegible, so Neil needs to use a laptop at school and for homework and written assignments. Obviously being one-handed makes everything slower--showering, getting dressed, shaving, preparing food, eating, etc.
-----Vision is a problem. Neil's eyes don't work together. He wears a prism on his left glasses lens to bring that field of vision to the front. It helps, but Neil is tired of the glasses and not being able to focus properly. His handicap interferes with his being able to recognize people and remember new faces. It slows down his reading so he prefers a larger font. Because of difficulty with visual perception and acuity, he struggles with puzzles and seeing the big picture. He currently sees a neuro-optometrist and does eye exercises that we hope will help.
-----Neil's short-term memory is faulty. It's hard for him to remember new things--names, dates, assignments. He knows it's a problem so he perseverates (or obsesses) about what he might be forgetting. He constantly asks me when appointments are--even though they may be weeks away. His speech therapists encouraged him to get a smart phone and that's helped a lot. Now he puts everything in his calendar and keeps notes of important things he wants to remember for later.
-----He has a short attention span and is currently taking Ritalin--probably will be for a long time as he had ADD before his injury. He doesn't have the patience for TV. Even a good book can't keep him occupied for long. Combine this with his short-term memory issues and you can understand how school might be a challenge! His goal is to attend college for computer training or business management (remember the taco stand?), but right now he still needs a lot of help in school.
-----Neil has always been very social and had lots of friends. His brain injury took away his social filters and now he finds it hard to communicate appropriately with people. He can't understand or read non-verbal cues or subtleties in speech so he easily misinterprets others. He has trouble remembering that you can't always say what you are thinking, so he says (or texts) things that he shouldn't. He sometimes confuses people, so he refers to conversations he had with someone else. These challenges, combined with the fact that many of his most loyal friends have left for college, have left him lonely and feeling somewhat friendless.
-----He is still working on his speech. He can't seem to get much inflection or intonation in his voice so everything comes out in a monotone. He doesn't have a lot of volume control either, so he can be hard to hear and understand.
-----His processing speed is slow and his school skills are still lacking--reading, writing, math (we haven't even begun any math rehab except some informal quizzes at home.) He's probably at least a couple years behind where he was, and relearning is tough.
******Neil's a trooper and doesn't really complain much. His good attitude has helped tremendously with his progress which I'll report on in an upcoming post.

1 comment:

Polly said...

Thanks for this update. We look forward to his show.