Submitted by: Brain, Education, Strategies, Technology (BEST)
ABI Survivor, Kristi
“I’m a TBI survivor! In March of 2014 I was in a parade with my miniature horse when something frightened her and the cart I was in came to a complete stop – catapulting me out, head first & onto the asphalt in front of parade spectators. After a couple of months of receiving medical help I felt better physically but I was aware that I desperately needed something to help me cognitively. I felt as though most of the wires in my brain were separated. I had trouble with processing & remembering information.
I finally found a fantastic teacher, Michelle Wild. She has developed two apps and created online courses for a variety of apps that help people who struggle with cognitive issues after brain injury. Before my accident I would have been considered a dinosaur when it came to using technology. I used a simple flip phone for calls & texts and I only knew how to create documents & emails on my laptop. Two months after I was in Michelle’s classes I began using apps on a new smart phone & iPad.
I’ll be honest, I had a rough time learning & remembering how to manipulate my way through the operations of apps on the different devices, plus I had to learn a whole new vocabulary of technical terms. In the beginning, everyday was a struggle to learn how use technology, but I was constantly reinforced by its benefits and by the opportunities to learn from my mistakes. Now, I think of my phone as a prosthetic for my brain and my IPad as a very helpful tool. I have learned to use a calendar (Week Calendar), task management app (TODO cloud), password app (1password), mind mapping app (Inspiration), and a note taking app (Notability).
In addition, I use the two apps Michelle created on a daily basis. PaceMyDay helps me manage my fatigue. As a result of using PaceMyDay, I now have an awareness of what tasks deplete my energy & how long it takes me to complete those energy demanding tasks. Sometimes what I thought would be a task that would drain my energy was actually an energy booster. I also learned the importance of incorporating breaks as I work on something and to not work more than an hour on any particular task. Breaks can be as long or as short as I need (e.g., resting or just stepping back to take a deep breath to refocus). PaceMyDay helps me to strategically plan my day in the morning as I prioritize tasks to fit my energy.
The ReachMyGoals app has helped me better set and track goals. After my accident I would get overwhelmed by the details of different goals. So overwhelmed that I had a difficult time separating one goal from another and never started or completed any of my goals. Since I have used ReachMyGoals, I’ve learned to break down goals into smaller pieces. Now I write out each goal separately and the app guides me through a structured process to create a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goal. My goals include due dates that are assigned to tasks with reminders and notes. There is also a place in the app to keep track of my successes and challenges.
For me using technology is a form of daily mental exercise. Building upon each successful step, I’ve overcame my deficits & strengthened my problem solving, decision making, and organization skills. I think that working through the steps of where & how to use an app reinforces strategies and helps me work on and improve a variety of cognitive skills. I feel my memory has improved in other aspects of my life because I’m transferring skills I use with technology.
I wanted to share my experience of learning & using specific apps because I know what it is like to be searching for help and not getting any answers. Other people can get the help I got by visiting BESTconnections.org (Brain, Education, Strategies, Technology) and going through the step by step online classes at learn.bestconnections.org. These classes are self-paced and can be repeated as many times as necessary.”
The Ability Tools Southern California will have an in-person training on BEST Connections on Thursday, June 1st, 2017 at the California Endowment in Los Angeles. Join us to learn about best practices for teaching strategies and technologies that benefit of people with conditions that affect their brain. For registration details, please visit Ability Tools’ Training Registration Web Page at http://abilitytools.org/training/training-registration.php