Our performance exists in chains. All chains have an origin (in perceptual performance), are comprised of various links and express themselves in the world by way of the actions we perform. That performance we see is the consequence of an emergent process, arising from the point at which we are perceiving this world and everything in it, and cumulating in the actions we take as a result.
What we are seeing in the performance of those everyday tasks, is the consequence of layer upon layer upon layer of sensory information, interwoven with some very specific skills, abilities and processes, scaffolded together as our task performance. Added to this, is the reality that everything we do right now is consequence of absolutely everything we have ever performed previously and how we have refined this. It is absolutely true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, because that combining together of all of our integrated performance, in a staggering variety of ways always produces some incredibly outcomes. We may take our everyday performance for granted but it is truly a spectacular feat.
Walking and running began with the first kick of our leg, as a foetus in the womb and it has never left us; it was only ever added to. Walking or running did not occur in isolation, nor are they just a simple action. They are the consequence of considerable refinement of performance over time, scaffolded together with a phenomenal amount of sensory information and experience.
Our performance is constructed of fractals, layer upon layer of different levels of performance; and, permeating throughout all these levels, are the same fundamental skills, abilities and process. The origin of our performance is always the same; it does not change over time. The only variance is the faculty of performance, through which the end result is expressed eg; running, talking, writing, skiing, etc.
The most primary of these underpinning skills remains the ability to form inter-relationships between pieces of sensory information. This allows us to construct the objects we perceive and to make sense of this relative world of ours ie: how objects relate to one another, distance, orientation, speed, height, etc.
The natural consequence of forming inter-relationships is that patterns of information then coalesce out of an undifferentiated sensory soup. The world we see is the consequence of the patterns within patterns within patterns within patterns we have constructed. Just look at the trees in the distance. As we move closer we begin to discern individual tree tops. The closer we get, the more defined the patterns become; we can identify trunks, branches, leaves and flowers. Without our capacity to form inter-relationships none of this would ever happen.
In everything we do and every action we take, there is a very clear process involved:
All actions we ever perform are performed on the basis of something we perceived. This requires:
Refinement becomes a matter of improving upon those processes of perception and performance, and on increasing the capacity of those processes to deal with ever increasing volumes of sensory information, without collapsing under the loading.
The only difference between the elite athlete and their capacity to deal with sensory loading, and the child struggling at school and their capacity, is whether or not the basic skill structure is intact and fully functional. When the basic perceptual capacity is damaged, the capacity to deal with sensory loading is naturally diminished and we go into sensory overload.
However, the athlete who becomes overwhelmed in moments of high sensory loading is also going into sensory overload; and it is not just sensory information that can do this but all felt experiences, including pain and our psychological and emotional responses.
Ultimately, the refinement of performance involves sending clients into a controlled degree of sensory overload. Perceptual performance must be challenged enough to require it to respond and adapt. If a client does not come out of a session feeling like their brain has been in a blender, they haven’t been challenged enough.
Because our focus is on the client becoming aware of what is going on in every moment of their performance, there is an inherent requirement that they are also aware of their psychological and emotional states at all times; and actually engage with those responses is a very specific way. Everything must work in harmony (the absolute definition of functional), because of that potential for our psychological and emotional states to send us into sensory overload when it does not. It is critical to, not only be aware of all felt experiences at all times, but to also be aware of what happens when we attempt to avoid or distract ourselves from what is going on right now. When we get ahead of the game and are racing and efforting to get somewhere, without being aware of what we are doing to get there, we end up on the hamster wheel of life – rushing and rushing, efforting and efforting and going exactly nowhere. It is crucial to understand our underlying motivations and beliefs, along with our reactions and responses if we are going to understand exactly how they disrupt our performance. It has been my continued and ongoing experience that:
Consequently, it doesn’t matter whether the client is a child struggling in school, an elite athlete or an everyday person wondering what is holding them back in life, we must deal with the entirety of the person and do so at a level within their performance that will have a lasting impact. Interestingly, the whole visual perceptual evaluation process has evolved in such a way that the client’s total dynamic is revealed – how they are engaging in and performing a task at that very subtle level, and what their psychological and emotional responses are when challenged in various ways. As a tool for self-discovery, it is truly amazing, but don’t think for a moment that I am taking credit for thinking it all up. The visual perceptual performance process used have always had a life of their own and evolved in ways I could not have imagined if I had even tried. Fundamentally, pretty much everything about the client and their performance is revealed, and it is a fantastic tool for doing exactly that, as well as providing the means for correcting performance and responses, as required.
Because this is a clinically based program, the first step is to determine a client’s level of performance, so it won’t matter who you are and why you have come to see us, the process is the same. We have to find every client’s beginning point and that involves getting down beside each and every client and discovering what they are doing and how they are doing it. Changing something at this level can and does produce profound results, rippling throughout a client’s life, and often in ways that cannot be defined or put into words.
Over the years, I have had numerous telephone calls several days after a session, from clients telling me how much their life has changed as a consequence of one visual perceptual session and how amazing these changes have been. Suddenly life has got a whole lot easier and simpler and it’s always wonderful to hear these stories.
In the end it is all about refining a client’s performance and that is a very individual thing, so I would encourage you to ask yourself what you want and what is holding you back, and to consider that the VisualPerceptual Programs can open new doors for you or someone you care about.
Visit the website at www.visualperceptual.com to discover what we have to offer.
Natoya Rose is an Occupational Therapist and developer of the clinically based programs, used to refine visual perceptual performance
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