“Clarify and Verify”

“Clarify and Verify” is perhaps one of the most POWERFUL compensatory skills (habits) an individual with cognitive inconveniences can practice.  It’s a common communication technique, but for anyone who is challenged with “mis-hearing,” “mis-remembering,” or other mis’s brain injury can cause this simple phrase often saves the day:

“Let me see if I heard you correctly.  You said (or asked me to) ___________________.  Is that right?”

Then write down the results (or speak the results into you iPad or other recording device). Not only is this good for you (the person asking for verification), it’s good for the person you are talking to.  It’s good for the relationship too.  The two-way communication “street” will be clear of clutter and misunderstanding.  And when others see you writing down the results, they will start to gain confidence that they are heard and you will know, if not remember, what was said and agreed upon. Employers are especially appreciative of this communication practice.  Don’t be surprised if they start using it, and asking others they work with to use it too!

Thank you Francis, for this valuable phrase.

Everything in ONE PLACE

To function at the level I wish to function, I need all the information I was once able to find in my head, organized in a way I can see it.  For me, that means that all the “bits” I need, have to be visually available and all in one place.  No easy task!

One way to have everything in one place for work tasks and projects is using multiple computer monitors.  Most people do not use this many., but after slowly adding one at a time, this is what I ended up with. For individuals with brain injury who have office jobs, one extra monitor is often helpful and two extra monitors are generally sufficient.  These also fall into the category of “reasonable accommodations.”

The reason all this because they make needed information visually available. I can alternate attention (“switch gears”) and maintain focus without struggle to do the impossible with my unreliable organic brain. Less stress. Less struggle.

Focus with multiple monitors

In days past, one of my most powerful visual resources for keeping “everything” in one place, was my (paper-based) BRAIN BOOK®, which was always open to the central “TODAY” page.  Tabs that organized all the important sections, flared out left and right (see below left).  Many of my students have made their own brain books, either with or without the masters we used for BRAIN BOOK® System.  Let me know if you want a list of the most helpful section headings or Masters for printing insert pages.

BBS Tabs as visual cues

Now my personal My Bionic Brain® does the same thing, but in key-word searchable electronic form on an iPad.  By keeping My Bionic Brain® open to the main TODAY screen, I have my primary visual cues in full view.  Reference Notes, documents, e-mails, TO DO Lists and scheduled tasks and appointments re never lost or “spaced.”  I call it my “BRAIN BOOK on steroids.” And yes, it sits on my desk next to me, along with all the monitors. ♥

For a PDF of the image below: TRI-FOLD brochure

Everything in One Place

Compensatory Strategies and Employment

NIH banner    Most of my functional gains are because I learned early that I got the most bang for my buck cognitively, by compensating for the gaps and glitches my brain injury caused.  See this article from 1999. See the attached with highlighting added where I was quoted (page 7): “Many of my peers would be working too, if they had been given the opportunity to learn how to compensate.”   NIH article quoting Moeller from 1994 – emphasis added

The entire article is still on the internet at: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/TBI_1999/Pages/Appendix_A.aspx

Fast forward to 2014:

If I were being quoted today, instead of saying “learn how to compensate” (which is difficult without the kind of cognitive rehabilitation I was fortunate to have), I would say it this way:

“Many of my peers would be working too if they had the specialized tools and work-focused skills training they need to be able to compensate.”

For those of us with cognitive disabilities, our strengths often lie in being visually cueable.  This, coupled with the residual strength of muscle memory (AKA “procedural memory”), as long as we have accessible visual cues we can reach for, we can level the playing field at home, at work and in our involvement in the community.

After working with hundreds of individuals over 20 years’ time, my research and experience has resulted in a commitment to producing a state-of-the art compensatory system — a cognitive prosthetic, if you will — complete with self-help skills training support and 24/7 support. “Knowing how to compensate” continues to be the key, in my view, to empowerment, cognitive mobility, and sustainable, long-term functional recovery from brain injury and other “cognitive inconveniences.” For a printable copy of the image below: TRI-FOLD brochure

Everything in One Place


I don’t call it a disability. I say I’m “cognitively inconvenienced.”


I learned the term “cognitive inconvenience” from a young woman with Asperger’s when I asked her if she thought of herself as a person with a disability.  She said, “No, I have some cognitive inconveniences other people in my life do not have to deal with.”

This is now how I see what I used to call my “disabling condition.” I like the ordinariness of it.  I now see the glasses I need, the cane I walk with, the walker I’ve recently acquired — along with all the other assistive devices I use — as items that help me outsmart my various cognitive and more recently, physical “inconveniences.”