Lupus patients with CNS involvement often have trouble with short-term memory, and can find learning new information especially challenging. For me, it took over two years of study and two examinations before receiving the good news today that I passed a professional certification exam. A heartwarming “Congratulations!” opened the letter I received today announcing the results of the exam I took last month.
The approach I successfully used as a lupus patient with CNS involvement and short-term memory problems, is expressed through an acronym describing the behavior of effective learners.
LEARNERS retain what they know and understand.
L – Listen repeatedly to recorded learning materials for long term memorization using aural gateway to mind while exercising, driving, etc.
E – Endeavor to gain total comprehension and mastery of new subjects for long-term retention
A – Allow time for study and mulling over information for extended time period without short-changing the effort required
R – Remember details with flash cards, acronyms and memorizing techniques/tricks using oral and visual review
N – Note down and outline key points while reading large volumes of learning materials to involve deeper mental processes and multiple senses
E – Establish a schedule and divide topic areas into date-specific learning goals, and celebrate incremental learning successes
R – Review and repeatedly study information multiple times to deepen familiarity with material
S – Summarize key concepts and restate ideas in simple terms to increase comprehension, and “teach” to imaginary or real captive audience
For people with short-term memory problems, rote learning has limited value.
Rote learning focuses on memorization by repetition, often without gaining an understanding of the reasoning or relationships involved in the material that is learned. I used rote memorization only as a support to the material that was also studied for long-term comprehension.
ROTE memorizing emphasizes words without necessarily comprehending the information.
R – Risks quickly forgetting information
O – Omits understanding and comprehension in learning process
T – Taxes short-term memory and fatigues conscious mind
E – Effective for learning details, dates, acronyms and abbreviations
After now successfully passing my second certification exam, I am very grateful for the support and sacrifices of my husband, family and friends who encouraged me and prayed for me during my extended study efforts, and for my study group and an extra special study buddy. I am also very thankful for the support of the attorneys I work with who persisted in their belief that I would succeed.
Mostly, I am extremely thankful for God‘s help, strength, and for many answers to prayer throughout my study, a failed exam, more study and a second exam.
The night before this most recent exam, I could not sleep and was bleary-eyed and foggy brained the next morning. I am certain that without God’s grace and mercy, my weary lupus-impaired mind could have failed me during the grueling test, despite the effectiveness of all my prior learning efforts.
I am truly humbled by my success, and the necessary support of the many who participated with me in prayer and emotional support. We have gained a victory together. When I arrived home after work this evening, my husband had a lovely vase of roses and a scrumptious layered cake bearing a “congratulations” message waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Our family celebrated the success with us, joining us for dinner and a special dessert.
[Follow up note: January 12, 2012 – Today brought a special honor when the national publication of this professional certifying association published my article, that included an expanded discussion outlined by my acronym describing “LEARNERS” first published here in this blog post. Please see today’s post about the publication of my article. ~~ Sincerely, Lupus Adventurer.]