Monday, December 26, 2011

"My Guy Wears Khaki Pants"

After the shocking revelations from Meredith on that first day she told me she had pictures for everything (shocking because it was so different than how I think and that I never knew this about her), I HAD to tell someone about it.  Poor Tom--as soon as he got home from work I rushed him into our room and told him, "You're never going to believe this!  Meredith has pictures for every number and every word.  She keeps them all in filing cabinets in her mind and she has this little girl named Merebith who manages all of the files for her.  She wears a little school girl uniform and everything -- look at all these pictures she drew about it!"  Then comes the response out of left field from Tom:
                    "I have a filing system...[long pause]...My guy wears khaki pants." 

Holy crap.  Seriously?  No.way.

Tom described his little guy (no name) as a geeky file clerk from the 1950s who wore the aforementioned khaki pants, a white shirt, and glasses.  Kind of Dilbert-like.  Tom described his filing cabinets as those old clunky, wooden filing cabinets with an insert in each drawer showing a letter typed with an old-fashioned typewriter.  Apparently the little guy also uses a big calculator whenever Tom does calculations.

That pretty much changed everthing.  It was clear that this was some form of thinking that was genetic and passed from Tom to Meredith.  I wasn't dealing with a totally unique child.  I was dealing with a unique FAMILY now!  How incredible--INCREDIBLE!--that neither Tom nor Meredith shared this with anyone (it was just how they thought, afterall...why would they think it was "different"), but independently had the very same manner of thinking...filing cabinets and little assistants.  The beauty of it was that Tom could basically translate things that Meredith was sharing with me and explain it in more detail.  But more than anything, Tom and Meredith would now forever have a special bond.

For me, I suddenly had a husband and a child that seemed foreign to me.  I had to learn their "language" and try to decipher how they were different from me and what things they shared together.  It was if I had to discover who they were all over again.  It was exciting, but a bit freightening at the same time.  It was a lot to take in to say the least.  I was happy for Tom because for the first time in his life, he had some explanation for things.  These discoveries would send our whole family on a journey--and our wheels are still on the road to a destination unknown.  One thing is for sure, however, we all understand each other a whole lot better than before.


  1. This is fascinating. I'm a pretty strong verbal thinker, I think, and I'm very good at remembering stuff I hear. I can do visual thinking on purpose, but it never goes the way it's supposed to. I used to use a giant computer in my head and I had a guy who used to access information for me when I needed it. Then my head-computer blue-screened during an exam one day. So I made a back-up filing room, but during another exam, the idiot fell over the computer wire, unplugging the computer, and breaking his leg so that he couldn't even get out any of my back-up paper files. Great! For the record, it's hard to write an exam with a groaning file clerk in your head :).

  2. I'm so excited to hear from you! Thank you for sharing your story. That is one of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog--to be able to meet people with similar experiences.

    Your story cracks me up. I can just picture it (sorry, I keep making those puns).

    I'm going to write another post about this, but generally, most people use both verbal and visual thinking pathways based on the task at hand, which sounds like the case for you. For instance, if I say "house," "dog," and "toast," you probably get a mental image for those. But then what happens when I say "of," "and" and "the?" If you saw the letters or the word, what you did was switch from your visual to verbal pathway.

    Look for an upcoming blog post on this issue and I will go into some more detail.

    Again, so glad to read your comment and would love to hear more.

  3. I just checked in with Meredith and told her your story. She said that Dogot (see previous post) also tripped over the computer cord before and broke his wheel, similar to your guy breaking his was news to me that Meredith even had computer files...I thought they were all in file cabinets. Like you, however, she has back-up paper file cabinets. She told me so much more that I'm going to write a separate post on it, so stay tuned!

  4. I saw the post! Made my day :).

    I've been very much aware today of the visual ways I think when it happens. I can see I'm going to have to learn more about it. I suspect my daughter also thinks very visually sometimes. She says the scenes in the books "unroll" in her head as she reads. So interesting.

  5. It's to observe your thinking styles and notice that. Do you experience any synesthesia?

    Visual thinking is amazing, but sometimes can have its pittfalls, too. It is said to be 20,000 times faster than verbal thinking, so often a person can construct a whole line of visual thought before they know it, but not communicate it with people around them. I finally learned that was the source of some of the miscommunication between my husband and me. Or when my daughter would get so upset because something didn't go as she planned in her mind. One time we were having our neighbors over for dinner and I suggested she ask them when they arrived if she could get them a beverage. Well, my husband beat her to the punch, not knowing I said that, and it started a downward spiral for her. Man, I have so many more posts to write about all of this!

  6. I meant, "It's fun to observe..."

  7. How incredible fascinating this is to read about! I´m happy for Meredith that you found out what her problem is...and what a gift for her that she share this exceptional mind with her dad!

    I´m curious to know how his childhood was? Did he have the same problems in school as Meredith having?

    As a mother of a special gifted son I have some, little, knowledge of having a family member thinking differently. I thank you for bringing knowledge out to everyone, many times you feel so completely alone, not knowing what your childs problem is. So even if we not share the same medicine problem we althoug share the experience of being an "odd" family!

    1. Hi Mona!

      I'm glad you find our story as fascinating as I do! And more importantly, I'm glad that you feel like you're not totally alone.

      My husband says that he did struggle through school. They thought he maybe had a reading disability of some sort, but could never put their finger on it. It was a struggle and he really hated school and didn't see the point.

      Now, however, he is in a career that plays to his strengths--he can see the big picture of how complex operations work together and how all the variables affect the operations. The neat thing is that as we've learned more about Meredith, he has learned more about himself and he can apply that to the workplace. For example, he tells people outright that if they are just going to talk and talk and talk, he isn't going to listen. The dry erase board is his best friend and he asks people to draw out operations, etc. That certainly cuts down on a lot of frustration trying to communicate with people. Advocating for how you learn is a great skill to have!

  8. How much of Dr. Florance's program have you done with your daughter and have you seen positive results?

    1. We did about four months, with consultations after that working with the school. Yes, we did see positive results and we all learned a tremendous amount, which was probably equally important in my opinion. If you listen to the series of radio interviews that I did with Dr. Florance, you will hear little tidbits about how Meredith improved along the way.