My Real-Life Fail at ‘Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader’ | Life After Brain Injury

inspireThis past week I applied for a part time position to tutor students in grades K-3 and help them with their reading skills.

I thought it would be a good way to give back  to the local community while earning a little extra money. Since reading/writing have always been my strongest skill set, I thought it would be an easy fit.

Boy, was I wrong.

I was required to take an online assessment for math and english to determine if I would qualify. It was a timed series of multiple choice questions …. keep in mind this is for grades K-3……

I did fine with the basic math questions, but once I had to figure out the next number in a series of numbers, I froze. And then there was a series of questions like “round is to circle as box is to square” and then the words I had never even seen before ….. the Q’s were SO freaking hard.

By some grace of fate, I ‘passed’ the test by their standards.  I felt like a complete fraud. I guessed at a majority of the questions, but because I am a skilled multiple choice guesser, I was able to barely squeak by.

Two and a half years ago, I would have aced this test with flying colors. I likely would have gotten 100% without a single guessed answer. But of course, that was before my brain injury.

Because I am high-functioning…. I sometimes forget that I am still dealing with a variety of deficits. When you are put face-to-face with those deficits, it can be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming. This test brought to the forefront all those feelings I had been harboring and pushing deep into the abyss.

I am grateful for this test.

It has reminded me that I while I am getting better every day, I am still not completely recovered. It was a reminder to give myself grace. It also gave me a milemarker to remind me of how far I have come, even if it isn’t 100%. It forced me to face my emotions once again, and to confront them and learn from them.

If my experience can help another survivor get through a rough patch, it was completely worth the frustration, humiliation, and aggravation. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in my life, but I am extremely thankful to still have a life worth living!


2 thoughts on “My Real-Life Fail at ‘Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader’ | Life After Brain Injury

  1. EXAzcTLY!! This is exactly how it is!! Thank you for posting this. Exept I cried all night after I got home…

  2. There are some of us who have been blessed to have started out with higher intelligence (not boasting here – we all have unique skills). But the problem with a brain injury is that – as many people often point out now – it’s an invisible disability, much like deafness. And when you often still function at a level that appears to be better than the norm, many will assume there’s nothing wrong with you.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have had hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) following my concussion 6 years ago (and yes – it helped) and it included some very intense cognitive tests (ANAM) that truly pushed me to my limits. But they also showed my deficits prior to treatment and my progress as I went through my 8 weeks of HBOT. Unfortunately as with all brain injuries as I’ve also discovered, you never completely recover. I subsequently had a SPECT brain scan at the Amen Clinic late last year and that was also preceded by some rigorous testing to establish a baseline. And as expected, my brain scan showed the damage still lingering in my brain.

    Without all the tests I’ve taken along with that brain scan, I would never have absolutely confirmed my ongoing brain injury. At least for myself. What people see and assume from the outside looking in at me is another issue. I’ve surely learned to be even less judgmental of others, not knowing what they’ve been through in life.

    But for me, I’ve continued to work on myself by constantly trying new approaches and ideas as I have all my life. And I no longer care what others may think or assume. Continue to count your blessings in still having a lot to work with, Amy.

    That’s the best thing you can do for yourself!

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