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June 14, 2006


I turn around and around, tying knots in a piece of string; first one way, then the other. I bounce up and down on a large inflatable ball with my eyes shut. And then I walk down a long corridor, my head to one side, with my eyes tracking little pieces of paper which I stuck to the wall at one meter intervals.

I have a learning disability. I have dyscalculia. I have trouble sequencing things. I have very poor short-term memory. I have trouble doing mental arithmetic. Even so, I have to work out times-tables as needed. I can't understand time very well. I forget people's names. I find it hard to read social cues and facial expressions. I have a feeling that everything is supposed to be really difficult.

There is a cure. I am curing myself. People say of dyslexia, "Why do you need to fix it? It's who you are. It should be accepted." I agree that everything should be accepted and allowed. Everything is supposed to be the way it is right now otherwise it wouldn't be like that. But there is a cure. If your life was threatened by a bacterial infection would you refuse antibiotics because you're supposed to die? You're not supposed to die, unless you do; you're only supposed to be sick.

I have a learning disability. I am supposed to have it, because I do. I am curing myself. I am supposed to cure myself, because I am curing myself.

I was at my mum's house, reading Gray's Anatomy on the toilet; where is the amygdala, I wondered. John Bradshaw, a leader in the inner-child movement and a powerful advocate for children, talks about the amygdala and how it stores trauma. He talks of the studies in neurophysiology and Daniel Goleman's reporting of this in his book called Emotional Intelligence. When I see a certain face or an expression, my amygdala alerts me of danger; it triggers my flight-fright-freeze response. I have post traumatic stress disorder; I was chronically and acutely spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically abused. Where is the amygdala? It is in the cerebellum.

I have been speaking with many people about many things. The traumas that people experienced at home, as children, were often more intense, more prolonged, and more horrific than anything that someone would have experienced in a Nazi concentration camp. To see how these people still function is a testament to the power of the human spirit. But, still, they don't function as healthily as they could. Many people go through life in fear and suffering, still living in an experience which has long passed.

How can I have a learning disability? It's amazing to find that I have a learning disability in parallel with beginning to see what I am already capable of. I can watch myself and marvel at what I do and say but at the same time be aware of how much of my life is spent in struggle. I have coping strategies: I use my intelligence, my higher brain functions, to do things that others do automatically. I'm using my conscious brain to do things for which my subconscious brain exists.

"What will your employer do when they find out that you're disabled?" Someone asked me. They'll probably laugh. I can do my work exceptionally well. I'll be even happier, that's all.

This all started when I wrote Unresolved Trauma in March. I suggested to myself that I write on a piece of paper, "How can I heal this trauma of the past that is affecting my life today?" and put it under my mattress. I did that and now I'm standing on a wobble board.

The cerebellum is at the bottom and at the back of the brain. It is more densely packed with neurons than the rest of the brain. It receives input from the inner ear, the muscles and joints, and the eyes. It uses all of this information to provide rapid automatic responses, to balance, and to react quickly. A powerful cerebellum enabled us to walk upright, to hunt in the dark, to run, to fight, and to survive.

Everything is built on what came before. Reading and writing are automated by the cerebellum; I think elephant and my hand writes it automatically; I read elephant and I experience an elephant in my mind automatically. You tell me three numbers and ask me to reverse them and I would do it without thinking, except that I can't; I find that hard even with thinking.

The cerebellum is involved in feeling emotions, in social interactions, in self-perception and self-esteem. There's a disconnection inside myself where I feel strong emotions but cannot think about them. John Bradshaw describes emotional maturity as being able to think about feelings and feel about thoughts. Feelings are in the body, thoughts are in the brain. The cerebellum is where my brain is connected to my body.

Wynford Dore, a multi-millionaire businessman, wanted to save his daughter's life; she had tried to end it several times. At about thirty years old she was crippled by severe dyslexia and low self-esteem; her life was unmanageable. He put a fortune into finding a cure. Research had shown the connection between an under-developed cerebellum, a condition called Cerebellum Development Delay (CDD), and learning disabilities. Other research had found that CDD could be corrected with physical exercises. Wynford gathered researchers from around the world to develop the Dyslexia Dyspraxia Attention Treatment (DDAT). His daughter is now completely cured and so are many others.

One in six people have CDD; one in six people are struggling unnecessarily. I just read an article about the Bing Nursery School at Stanford University; research is done there into child development. They believe that play and physical activity is far more important for little children than academic study. In that article, Jane Stanford is quoted as saying in 1885, "the necessity of unfolding the minds of little children through their senses, rather than dwarfing them through the meaningless repetition of mere words, is coming to be felt more and more by all thoughtful educators."

Rudolf Steiner developed the Waldorf-Steiner system of education which is based very much on age-appropriate learning and focuses on sensory stimulation and exercise to an age far beyond when children in traditional schools are sitting at desks and developing their higher brain functions. Imagine helping those children to create a foundation on which to build their castles.

When a piece of metal is worked into shape through physical manipulation it becomes work-hardened. The crystals within the blade of a sword, for example, through repeated folding become aligned and stretched so as to make the sword very hard. This harness enables it to hold a very fine and sharp edge. But hardness and toughness are usually mutually exclusive; if you took the sword and struck it, the trapped stresses in the metal would cause it to shatter. When the sword is then annealed, it enters what is known as the recovery phase in which the internal stresses are released. Through this process, the metal finds a state which is hard on the surface and able to hold a sharp edge, but is also tough in the center and will not shatter when it strikes something.

I have been work-hardened by trauma. I am very capable and can cut very well, but I have been filled with stresses. I am in recovery; the internal stresses are being released through tears. I am becoming tough. The roots are in my amygdala, in my cerebellum. As I stimulate my cerebellum I feel strong emotions and I cry.

Resolving CDD has also been shown to correct attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I read about a study of the connection between social behavior and literacy achievement in low-income elementary school children by Deborah Stipek, Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University. The study found that there was a correlation between poor behavior at a young age and poor achievement as the child grew older; a hypothesis suggested that one was the cause of the other. Many children also continued to misbehave after they had finally become literate.

I spoke with Deborah about the Dore work. She was very interested buy unaware of it; this is very new work. Perhaps the poor behavior and the poor achievement are both caused by the same thing: CDD. Perhaps the children develop coping strategies for dyslexia but are unable to develop coping strategies for the more complex social aspects of the condition. Perhaps all children should be doing these exercises at school.

The development of the cerebellum can viewed in terms of its response to the three major sources of input: visual, somatosensory (muscles and joints), and vestibular (inner-ear). When I went for my first assessment seven weeks ago it showed that I had greatly below-average vestibular processing: balancing with my eyes closed and with little feedback from my muscles and joints. The woman who was assessing me told me that vestibular processing should be fully developed by age seven. My life became very traumatic between the ages of six and seven and I can see how normal healthy development was probably delayed in favor of survival.

There are however many causes of CDD: genetic propensity, inappropriate education, and social and parenting restrictions are some examples.

I do these exercises for between five and ten minutes twice a day. When I was committing to that, I remember feeling angry; it's not my fault. But look at all of what I've been doing; even this writing is therapy for me. It's all therapy and I have a choice: I can walk around crippled and say that I'm not going to fix it because it's not my fault, or I can fix it. Life is asking me to fix it and I can see the beauty in that.

It's going to take between a year and a year-and-a-half until my cerebellum is fully developed. I went for an assessment last week and it's already improved greatly. I've been finding mental arithmetic much easier and I've started to do it automatically. I feel less stress holding a few things in my short-term memory. My body is buzzing and warm; I'm becoming re-connected to it. My posture is improving. I feel more confident. I am more spontaneous. I'm thinking less. I find it easier to be on time. I have less resistance to doing things which involve numbers or scheduling. I remember people's names. I seem to be able to have more flowing social interactions. My recovery has shifted into a higher gear. I am recognizing my unhealthy behaviors and patterns at a much greater rate than before.

A recurring theme for me is that I don't realize that I have a problem until I experience life free of it. When we're not free, a part of us always knows it and seeks freedom. Am I'm done? No, I'm not done. I'll know when I'm done.



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