Today’s guest post comes from my good friend Kirsty. Her success story in overcoming learning complications at a young age, and liberation through art, teaches us to not only enjoy the beauty of our strengths but also how to grow through what we don’t receive as easily.
My psychological report was dated at the time I was 5 years and 1 month old. My abilities, IQ, personal interests (and pretty much who I was) was confined down to 4 pages. A conclusive paragraph was summarised as follows:
To give a sense of the ‘size of the discrepancy’, I created a graph to illustrate the division between my performance IQ (ability to complete puzzle-type situations) and verbal IQ (ability to use language as a tool for self-expression and reasoning).
How is it possible to not have a defined IQ? In my own mind, I knew I was smart. However, when I tried to communicate, it was rather difficult to process. I was able to produce a sentence, but the structure was jumbled, immature, and very frustrating to use. My mum would say that I did not have the vocabulary available, as if I had a foreign tongue that separated me from the alien language that was English. I would later be referred to a Special Educational Needs (SEN) school to improve on my communication skills (although in hindsight I found this counterproductive, as it removed me from my friends).
I still recall the difficultly of being separated from my friends and being placed in a class of SEN children. I considered myself an introvert; keeping to myself and enjoying my own company. During free time I always chose activities that encouraged creativity and were solitary, such as drawing. Art helped me to freely express myself and I would be lost in the sea of colours, shading and shapes. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I must have written several novels in my childhood. I was quite good with my observational skills; taking meticulous attention to detail that may usually go unnoticed.
I believe art gave me the upper hand in my developmental stages of learning, I began to understand the world through pencil and paper. This may sound daft, but considering I had what was considered a language disorder, I believe I adapted a new technique which (through trial and error) built on my understanding of objects and how they are manipulated in space. I could change a mere circle into a three-dimensional sphere with shadow; illustrating a perceptual understanding of where a light from a light source may have been obstructed by an imaginative object. This didn’t require me to do a ‘group discussion’, art already taught me this science!
What am I trying to convey in this blog? I’m not too sure, in fact I’m probably not saying much at all. I still have this disorder, although it is nowhere near as bad as it was before. I have adapted strategies to accommodate my disorder: I spend more time listening and being meticulous in my use of wording during conversations, if I talk too fast (which I can’t process fast enough) I need to stop, breathe, and repeat in a clearer language. I found art as an important tool in my neurocognitive development, which made up for the fact that I had a slight disadvantage in language processing. I believe everyone has a special skill and a limitation, but often forget the answer to their problems could be presented in the skills they already possess. I found intelligence through artwork; an alternative tool for self-expression and reasoning.
This is my most recent piece, dated October 2015 (soon after I finished my MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience).
(Photos – Eli Woodbine, London, 2016)