By Attorney Gordon Johnson
Michael was getting accommodations at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh for dyslexia before he got hurt.
These are issues that you had before you got hurt?
And actually after I got hurt they were ten times worse.
Give me an example of the change in magnitude of your cognitive issues.
I guess the, the best one is, I was taking a course, it’s called Eco Sphere in Crisis or as I like to call it, Idiot Biology.
We called that Environmental Biology at where I went to college.
Well, all we did was talk about was the pill and a bunch of other stuff and finding out that the professor and his wife were both fixed. But I had problems in that class.
Even though it was really simple, if I read the book I was doing very well in it, I went on all the field trips. Then I had lecture which was kind of hard for me because he would touch on the stuff we read and then expand it.
I was lucky to have a friend of mine in the class, he was also in my individual classroom, he had the person talking, too, and he was real easy because he could understand what was going on. So if I gave him a weird look like, what’s going on, what are they talking about? He could put it into basic terms and slow it down because my brain. Most people talk at a normal pace which can be too fast for me and I don’t understand what they’re saying and I can’t get it all.
I like to give the analogy, because I’m a lawyer, about court reporters and when they can’t keep up with the pace of information. A court reporter is a person who has to take every word down in court – and they get lots of special training and use a special short hand machine to do it. But even court reporters get behind.
The one thing that will get a court reporter behind faster than anything else is two people talking at once. It’s not just a matter of automatically writing it down. It’s also sorting who said what. When a lawyer talks over a witnesses answer, or worse, two lawyers start arguing, there’s more words in the same five or ten second period to have to keep track of. Most of the time, human conversation clusters around 150 words per minute.
If your lecture professor had to slowed it down to 100 words per minute would you have gotten most of what he said?
Actually, if he would have slowed it down to about 75 to 65 words I would have kept up with him. If it wasn’t for my friend in the lecture class and the individual study class that we had, study class, I think that’s what it was called, if I didn’t have him in there I would have one big of a problem.
Once you fall behind, you’re trying to focus on the last part, you’re trying to remember and suddenly he’s a minute ahead of you in what he’s saying?
That’s correct. My friend would actually do something really good. He would give me the notes after class and I’d copy them.
Did you get any sort of accommodation with respect to notes other than your friend?
For my general (classes but) not specifically for my major classes. For my major degree, for my human services degree, I didn’t. The basic classes like English and all that I had, for history I know I had someone who would let me borrow their notes. For, like I said, Eco Sphere in Crisis I had somebody’s notes I could borrow. A lot of my undergrad classes I could borrow notes from somebody or they had somebody, who’d take notes for me and the best thing, especially for my undergrad classes since I was dyslexic I could take the test downstairs in the office.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
email@example.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.