How Taylor Is Now (Fall 2014)

This is an update on Taylor’s current condition to let everyone know how she is doing in a technical sense.

In all things Taylor continues to improve. Her determination, perseverance, and good attitude continue to inspire and amaze me.

Mental Skills
Taylor is back to her old self mentally. So much so that it feels inappropriate for me to comment on it. She can do this for herself at some future time.

Motor Skills
What is perplexing about Taylor is that her memory of all kinds of facts and ideas are intact but her memory of motor skills seems completely lost. In each task she tackles she has to break down the task and examine exactly how to do it given her current abilities. Because most of our everyday simple tasks are actually highly coordinated movements involving momentum and precise timing she has to come up with simpler ways to get them done. For instance when opening a heavy self closing door she grabs the handle with her right hand and walks backward to open the door wide, then she puts her left hand behind the door, then she puts her right hand behind the door, then she moves her body around to the back side of the door, finally she backs into the doorway. Each of these steps she can do one motion at a time which minimizes the need for coordinated movement. Over time she will develop more sophisticated methods of opening the door as in each of these carefully thought out tasks she constantly improves and improvises.

As I pick her up each day from therapy she methodically goes about each task in her routine. Some she is still learning, like zipping and unzipping her backpack, others she is refining like opening a car door and sitting in the car. Each is a process and a therapy in itself. As she continues to improve it is easy to imagine her completing her goal of returning to school in fall 2015.

Physically her left arm is not as coordinated as her right and she relies on her right arm a great deal. To a lesser degree her left leg is not as agile as her right. When walking it is challenging for her to relax her left arm and let it swing.

Taylor’s vision is improving, but is still her greatest challenge to a full recovery. She got some new glasses with prisms designed to open up her tunnel vision but they did not help as much as we had hoped. They did make objects appear sharper which is a big help in correcting the mechanical half of the challenge. The other half of the challenge is her ability to mentally recognize what she sees. The other day I sat in on an occupational therapy session where Taylor was locating letters randomly placed on a wall. Each letter was about 4 inches tall and she was unable to see all the features of any one letter. Like a detective she explained how she identified each feature and how that allowed her to deduce which letter she was looking at. For instance the presence of a curve rules out letters with only straight lines like E and A, the presence of straight lines and curves could mean letters like D and B. Using these methods, along with the knowledge of the location of other letters she found and the process of elimination, she was able to find all the letters but took longer than a normally sighted person would. Like with motor skills Taylor has to break down the task of visually identifying an object into more thought out rudimentary steps. Perhaps the two are linked? Like her motor skills her vision improves everyday and she is building her methods of discerning the visual information she needs to get her tasks done.

Attitude and Motivation
Taylor continues to be praised by her therapists for being a hard worker, highly motivated, serious and thoughtful as she goes about her therapy sessions. She has a great attitude and is usually joking about everything when we are together.

4 thoughts on “How Taylor Is Now (Fall 2014)

  1. I am so glad to see your short entry for “Mental Skills.” Joy. It also highlights the puzzle remaining for Taylor and all those helping in her recovery as to how to break down motor tasks or vision tasks and build workarounds that really work. I wish all of this were easier for all. Sending love.

  2. “Taylor continues to be praised by her therapists for being a hard worker, highly motivated, serious and thoughtful as she goes about her therapy sessions. She has a great attitude and is usually joking about everything when we are together.”

    No surprises there!

    Taylor, I think this is the first time I’ve commented on the blog, but I do read every post and am always amazed by all the progress and good news. Now that it’s Fall and Thanksgiving is coming up, I’m reminded of when you came home with me freshman year, and all the fun we had. I miss you a lot! I have perfect faith in your ability to rejoin us here at school in no time.

    By the way, are you considering writing a post yourself some time? It’s great reading about your status from your parents, but if you’re up to it, it would be even better to hear from you in your own words!

    All the best,

  3. John, thank you for this detailed updated about Taylor’s progress. I am going to pray for her continued improvement, especially with regard to her vision.

    All the best,
    Mimi McCaffrey

    • It is really inspiring to hear how far Taylor has come and how she continues to improve. It’s hard to be patient because we all would like her to improve even more quickly, but this is terrific news. Keep on focusing on what is going so well and keep on setting goals.

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