Friday, November 21, 2014

Shoes and NMDA receptors (don't ask, I don't know) and downpours and evil radiators

Halfway through my biopsychology class, at 8:30 pm on a Wednesday night, I looked down at my shoes and I started to laugh. Somehow, I had managed to go the whole entire day wearing my sneakers on the wrong feet. How does that even happen??? I swear I made it into college legitimately......

Normally I can stay engaged with my lectures for a while without getting distracted, but at this point, the professor was talking about something...learning and memory and NMDA receptors and AMPA channels and he might as well have been speaking Finnish because I was just so. done. He is incapable of speaking above a whisper, so he wears a microphone that works pretty well to bring his voice to an audible level, except that whenever he laughs, it BOOMS. So I was sitting there, still wondering how I managed to wear my shoes on the wrong feet all day, tuning in every now and then to hear phrases like, "So remember, only that which your brain deems to be rewarding or otherwise significant will make it into your memory...and you have to be paying attention for information to make it into your conscious memory" (oops...at least now I'll know why I won't remember the second half of this lecture when I'm studying for the exam.....) and every now and then, he'd laugh and I'd jump out of my skin and be jolted back to the lecture for 0.86 seconds.

I feel bad for having not posted in a while -- and I have a bunch of things that I want to talk about -- but I've just been so busy that I can't even get my thoughts in order.

Earlier in the week, I was conducting a research study on auditory distraction; all of the participants were administered a proofreading task, but in some of the conditions, I had scheduled my cell phone to go off in order to see whether the noise would affect their abilities to perform the task. As I was walking to the building where I was holding the study, it started to torrential downpour. I can't exactly run, so by the time I arrived (~15 minutes later), I looked like I had just jumped into a swimming pool. Then, halfway through one of my sessions, I had to pick up everything and switch rooms because there was an unannounced class that was going to be happening in that room in two minutes. So I managed to find a new room -- nearly tripping over my own feet and falling flat on my face about five times in the process -- and I got settled and began another session, this time with the control group. The control group was supposed to have complete silence while they were working -- no auditory distractions at all -- but of course, the radiators picked this moment in time to be as LOUD AS THEY POSSIBLY COULD BE, thereby kinda sorta ruining my study.

I couldn't help but laugh; to be sure, I care a lot about my schoolwork, but my CP has shown me that there's a lot in life that we can't control, and we can either get upset about it or we can laugh it off. :)

I have a crazy amount of work to do, and probably will continue to be ridiculously busy until Christmas break, but there was one bright spot at the end of the week...yesterday at dinner, I opened a fortune cookie to find this:
Just what I needed to hear. :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Advice please? What to do when you can't understand someone with speech difficulties

Earlier today, I was getting brunch at my college dining hall when I ran into one of the staff members. I've written before about some of the awesome people who work there, but this girl is new, so I've only seen her a few times.

Still, she always makes an effort to catch my eye and wave, and we've conversed a few times. Sometimes she saves me a spot, and today she took my arm and guided me to my table. As I set down my plate, I asked her about her day. She said something about a friend, but I didn't quite understand because she has some difficulties speaking.

"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that...what did you say?"

She tried again. I still didn't get it."Sorry...what was that? Something about a friend? Which friend?"

She smiled and pointed. "YOU. You are my friend!"

The feeling is mutual, and I told her so. :) I couldn't help but wonder though...is there a "right" way to ask someone for clarification if you can't understand their speech? I imagine that it will happen again in the future so I wanted to ask my readers' opinions.

Sometimes I just smile and nod, but I'd much prefer to try to understand if I can. At the same time, I don't want to ask for clarification too many times, because nothing's more annoying than having to repeat yourself six million times until someone finally gets what you're trying to say!

What do you do when you don't understand someone, particularly if that person has speech difficulties? Is it okay to "guess," as I did? As a person with a disability, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be when someone is insensitive, and I'd like to be as respectful as possible. :)