I thought I should explain a little more the significance of the “clock exercise” – this is the foundation of the Arrowsmith programme and was the first exercise that Barbara Arrowsmith Young devised for herself when she was overcoming her own learning disabilities. The clock exercise was designed to help her overcome her lack of understanding of relationships – particularly difficulties understanding the relationships among two or more ideas or concepts. This lack of understanding is called the symbol relations deficit. For Barbara, and I suspect for many others, one of the ways in which this deficit panned out, as she describes so vividly in her book, was that she was easily overwhelmed when trying to follow a group discussion on any topic more complex than the weather. Slow to grasp meaning she would always be five steps behind everyone else. She felt as if she was living in a dense fog. There is a much longer and more comprehensive description in Barbara’s book “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain” but I hope you can begin to see how difficult life must be living in a fog, never sure if you have grasped the meaning of a conversation accurately.
Another student, Heather, describes living with the symbol relations deficit as going through life wearing opaque glasses that make everything blurry and confusing. As the brain area acquires the capacity to process relationships quickly and accurately (by doing the clocks exercises), the glasses come off and the world becomes crystal clear for the first time.
It is so exciting that Simon has taken the first step towards the glasses coming off. The next challenge is the three-handed clock exercise and there are more hands after that and Simon tells me that later they go counter-clockwise! Blimey!