Sister

July 17, 2019

I didn’t know that I neglected her.  After all, I was driving her from art classes to ballet to piano lessons, to camp at Audubon, to claiming ropes.  Yes, I was driving her everywhere.

I drove her because she had this great potential and openness to the world but since I didn’t do any of those things myself, she couldn’t learn them from me.

Moreover, at that time our life at home was changed by Robert’s problems.  He had tantrums. He pinched. He bit himself. He screamed. That was difficult for us, his parents, and it had to be even more difficult for his two years older sister.  I wanted to familiarize Amanda with people and places which would allow her to learn and grow without the distortions that ruled our house.

Yes, we did try once or twice so called ” Sibling Groups” which were the creation of  well-meaning people to allow siblings of children’s with autism to forge close relations with those who shared their experiences. But those experiences are never shared.  Each child with autism is so different that the siblings really wouldn’t have anything to talk about. At least Amanda was not sharing and, possibly, not listening to others.

Moreover, she had her own problems.  Since, however, she didn’t advertise her problems the way Robert did as she didn’t scream, didn’t pinch, and didn’t have tantrums, we learned not to look for the problems and we didn’t see them.

Besides, she did demonstrate some resilience and she had the ability to deal with her own pains. At least we thought so.

I still remember her crying after her one and only friend in the preschool stopped playing with her.  She cried all the way home.  she cried as she found a large piece of paper and box of crayons.  She cried as she started drawing.  But as she drew her tears were slowly drying,  She finished her picture and she seemed fine.

On her picture two boys on the left side of the page were playing together ignoring the girl standing on the right end of the picture who was overwhelmed by despair.

She finished and she was calm.  So I assume, she was fine.

I don’t know if that was a correct assumption.

Still, I wish, she would drew such a picture today.  Maybe many pictures, as the reasons for our suffering are multiplying and getting complicated as we age and stop addressing or even expressing them.

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Episode in Wegman’s

July 1, 2019

Last Saturday, Robert and I went to Wegman’s Supermarket to buy clementines, rolls, and a box of organic blueberries.  We chose that store not only because we knew that it had everything on our short shopping list, but also because it had four self-registers where Robert could practice his shopping independence and… cashier skills.

We gathered our items quickly and headed to the self-register. As Robert turned the container with blueberries to look for a bar code, the box opened and the blueberries fell out.  They spread on the scanner, the dropped to the floor.  They jumped to the shopping bags hanging by the scanner, they hid behind the scanner.

Robert didn’t let them escape. After all he scanned the box already.  The blueberries were his and he had to take them home. So he grabbed the ones on the glass surface of the scanner. He was anxious.  He knew that this was not something that was supposed to happen and thus there was a risk that his mother would not let him take them home.  Of course, if I had any choice I wouldn’t. But I knew better.  I didn’t even hope that Robert would not pick blueberries from the floor including all the tight spaces behind and between other objects. I tried to protest, but my protests only increased Robert’s resolve to correct this mishap quicker and that resulted in some of the blueberries being squashed.

The young man attending to all the four self-registers noticed our situation and volunteered to take the box and bring another one.  But of course, Robert would not let him.  strangely, the young man was only slightly surprised by Robert’s protests and my explanation that this would not be possible.

“I understand. My brother would do exactly the same.” said the young man and disappeared.  Robert meantime put the box of blueberries in the shopping bag and placed the shopping bag in the cart to make sure it would go with us. He continue to scan clementines and then rolls. That required touching the screen in search for the words “bakery” and later “rolls” and entering the proper number.  Meantime, young man appeared and somehow he had two boxes of blueberries in his hands.  For a fraction of a second Robert seemed confused as if suspecting something wrong but soon enough he accepted the box given to him by the young attendant and placed it again in the shopping bag.  Calmly, we left the store.

I didn’t forget to thank the man profusely despite tears coming to my eyes.

On a less dramatic note.

We continue with our evening studies. Still  Functional Routines, Analogy Challenges (but know presented not by pictures but words), following directions as given by Say and Glue for Language and Listening, a page from Spectrum Algebra. Still reading a chapter or two from a book from Usborne Young Reading series (currently The Canterville Ghost).  And of course still practicing pronunciation.  Robert reads the word on a card and I tried to guess what he says without seeing the word.

 

 

 

 

From Concrete Examples to Ideas

June 27, 2019

Years ago, I was asked by one of Robert’s instructor, “Why are you teaching him that?”  By “that” she meant counting by five.  The tone of her voice was such that I felt guilty of overburdening my son’s brain with completely useless challenges.  It appeared to me that this teacher believed that learning one thing leads to overcrowding the brain and thus making impossible for it to appropriate more knowledge.

I tried to explain that learning to count by five, might help with time telling (not necessary with digital clocks) or counting money.  At that time, I didn’t say that learning to count by five makes a student familiar with a concept of counting by any other number be it three or seven and that might help with learning multiplication or division.  I didn’t say, because , I had already understood that the person with whom I had this discussion would have never believed that Robert was capable of multiplying or dividing numbers.

Yet, I now understand that learning one skill related to specific activity  and then using it in a completely different activity helps the brain to grasp the concept behind that skill and see it in more general if not abstract form.

This occurred to me as I was first watching Robert turning his horse full circle while riding around a barrel and a few days later navigating to turn his kayak in a different direction and return to the beach. Both actions required using one arm with either more strength or more frequently  than using the other one. Learning to perform one activity helped with acquiring skills needed to complete different task. As a result an Robert grasped the abstract idea of asymmetry of movements as a way of dealing with specific situations.

The years of teaching Robert and learning with him, convinced me  that any new experience might unlock the door to learning something else.  Despite knowing that, I was reluctant to let Robert participate in 5 km run organized by HMEA. When Jan, his father, wanted to run instead of walk with Robert during the IncredABLE event I was against it.  After all, Robert had never ran before. well, sometimes while seeing joggers in front of him, he ran after them… for a few yards.   But they did participate.  They ran, they walked, they ran…. The completed the course.  Robert didn’t complain.  He was mighty proud.

A few days later, as he was learning to play soccer, Robert for the first time began not walking and kicking the ball, but running and kicking and running again. Tim, who was his instructor and tried unsuccessfully encourage Robert to run after the ball a few times in the past, was surprised by Robert’s new skill.  Both Tim and I attributed that change to Robert’s 5KM run.

 

Out into the World

June 24, 2019

I haven’t written for over a month. Yes, we still do our desk, table really, work. Each day Robert

solves Sudoku,

completes a page of picture analogies,

reads a chapter or two from one of the Useborne Young Readers series,

listens to a text read by me from Functional Routines and answers related questions

solves a few math problems currently from Spectrum Algebra 6-8 (they are easier for him than remaining problems from Singapore Math 5A

completes a sheet from Say and Glue – easy but great for an independent work

practices pronunciation with the help of different materials

There is nothing new here. And precisely because there is nothing radically new but just a variation on the old routines it is much easier for me to write about that mundane daily tasks  than about Robert’s other activities. Although each  of them presented me with an opportunity to see Robert in a new light, strangely, I am reluctant to write about them.

Running

On May 19, his current program HMEA organized a great fundraising event with an opportunity to either walk 1km or run 5km.  I signed Robert and Jan (his father) for a walk, knowing that although Robert is a strong walker, he has never run.  Well, sometimes, when he saw runners on his hiking path he suddenly began running after them… for a few yards.  However, Jan decided that he and Robert would rather run.  And so they did.  Well, they run then they walk then they run.  Robert was extremely excited when he started following other runners.  Yes, his steps although quick were very short, yes he flapped his arms and hands.  But he had the biggest smile on his face I have ever seen.

He and Jan finished the race which happened to be more like 7 kilometers long, because of the error in setting the distance.  Well, they were second to last, but still happy and still proud.

The reward for being almost last was that Jan and Robert didn’t have to wait in line for hamburgers and chips. They got them in the tent and then they sat on the grass to eat.

Seating on the grass just like everybody else as negligent as it might look was another life enriching experience for Robert.

 

Horse Show

On June 1, Robert participated in another fundraising event at Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital.   The hospital is also a home to many horses who patiently help children and adult with disabilities enjoy riding.  Robert was anxious the morning before the show.  I was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to participate. But he calmed down and finished his routine that included weaving between cones, carrying rubber duck on a plastic shovel and leading the horse with one hand, taking a ring from one cone and placing it on another, turning the horse 360degrees in a small space, riding in half seats over logs, leading the horse between logs, trotting, riding with hands up and moving the horse backwards white staying between parallel logs.

With this last task Robert had problems.  He moved the horse only two feet and then the horse crossed over the logs.  Robert needed some reminders of how to move from one task to another, and a couple times he got confused.  That is true, but it was much more than he expected of himself and what we, the parents believed he could do.

What surprised me most, however, was that as Robert remained on the horse waiting for other riders to complete the trail, he tried to convince the person who stayed next to him to go back to the center logs. He wanted to correct himself and repeat the task of moving horse backwards while staying between the logs. He must have realized that  he didn’t perform correctly that maneuver and he wanted a chance to do better.

 

Kayaking

From the day Robert sent a letter with a check for NEHSA he wrote himself , he kept repeating “lake” or “kayaks” many times a day. So, on Friday, June 21, we left early to get to Sunapee Lake by 10 AM.  Little did we know that because of rain, the kayaking lessons were canceled.  When we finally got the message we had already made three quarters of hour trip. So I called NEHSA to ask if we still could participate in the afternoon session (the weather was going to improve).  But NEHSA volunteering angels decided that since we were so closed and didn’t mind drizzle, Robert might as well have his lesson. And he did. A few times he got himself into tight corners and needed help and a few times he managed to get out of them on his own. To manage that he had to practice turning the kayak in one direction or going backwards. As usually, after moving toward one end of the lake, Robert wanted to return to the dock.  He had to learn that the lesson was not over yet and that there were other places on the lake to visit  It was hard for him to add new dimension to his kayak excursion and it was a difficult task for Carly to convince Robert to keep exploring.  But she did.  Of course for Robert the wide lake is doesn’t give him any clue as to what direction to take, and thus the only direction he always has in mind is the place from which his kayaking started.  From any other place on the lake Robert rowed most skillfully toward the place where e began and where there was a car that would eventually take him home.

 

 

For the Record 13

May 17, 2019

One easy Sudoku from http://www.websudoku.com. Still prompting by suggesting Robert to consider some numbers first.

One page (two scenes with six questions each) from Comprehending “Conditional Directions” that Begins with “IF”. We did that before, years ago. At that time I cut each sentence into two parts, placing conditional  fragment on top of the page with two lines going respectively toward “yes” and “no” and followed by either “do this” or “do nothing.  The second part of the sentence was turned up-side -down and Robert was ask to either place it turn it over and follow the direction or throw it into a waste box.  Currently, I read the conditional “IF” part very slowly, wait for Robert to say either “yes” or “no” and then I finish the sentence.  Robert still makes errors from time to time, but much less than he used to.

Two pages from Maps, Charts, Graphs, and Diagrams (Teacher Created Resources) I use these material mostly to review things Robert learned previously.  The only new thing is a need to use IPAD to look for additional information, for instance to find a drawing of a microscope with names of its parts, and then use that information to complete a diagram.

One page from Cut and Paste Logic from Remedia Publication.  We are doing it for the last time, as Robert proficiently uses the clues to put four objects in four spaces. no more copies of the same pages.  I am not sure if that is satisfying to him, but it is certainly rewarding for me.

One page or part of the page from Singapore Math 5A.  By trail and error we began dividing by two digits divisor.  A few division at a time. Mostly guessing work and checking.

Words from old Weber book -repeating all words twice  on each side of the page.

One page of cutting and gluing in appropriate places from Say and Glue for Language and Listening Fun Sheets. This is mostly to practice independent work without me present.

One page with reading on intermediate level from From Functional Routines for Adolescents and Adults Community. We completed reading and answering question for the same workbook a couple month ago. Before there was one sentence related to one picture.  Now there are short paragraphs that describe each of the four pictures.

8-10 cards from What They Are Asking from Fun Decks.  Robert can come up with some ideas on his own but often he grasps for words. I am not checking what he knows already, I am increasing (hopefully) his ability to retrieve words related to each picture.

8-10 cards from Yes and No Fun Deck.  I noticed the same problems I encountered six years ago.  Somehow Robert reads my face and says what I have been thinking, which often is the purposefully wrong answer.  However, yesterday, I noticed strange development.  Robert stopped looking at my face, as if he realized that it might mislead him. he looks down and then gives me correct answer.  I wonder, what would happen tomorrow.

1-3 chapters depending on difficulties and lengths form a book from Usborne Young Reading currently The Midnight Ghosts. Those are simple but very well illustrated books.  We read them to both familiarize Robert with children’s and adults classics but also to improve understanding of the concepts included in the texts

Cursive writing to address Robert tendency to constantly decrease size of the letters to almost looking like a straight line. Usually he copies sentences about his days. I use paper with three lines to help Robert regain his ability to write cursive clearly.  I write sentences related to his days or to overall general but applicable knowledge.  Sometimes he uses the same sentences in writing in his Journal.

 

Mother Versus Wet Towel

May 15, 2019

It was supposed to be a happy event.  Going to the airport to meet mother who was coming home after 9 days in France.  In the past, Robert made many trips to the airport and he was always calm and relatively happy. Jan didn’t predict any problems.

So, after Robert finished his swimming lesson, he and his father drove to the airport. But as soon as Jan turned north instead of south on 95 interstate highway, Robert began protesting, “Home, home, home.” No, he didn’t want to go to the airport, he wanted to go home.  He needed to go home. He couldn’t go to the airport.  Not with wet towel, soaking swimming pants, and damp swimming cap. Those things should not travel to the airport.  They should be brought home.  “Home, home, home”, Robert tried to persuade his father.  Since, he didn’t have proper words, he replaced them with dramatic screams of protest. The most efficient way tfor Robert o express his uttermost anxiety was to keep slapping quickly his cheeks and scratching his nose with fast movements of his fingers. Yes, of course! Robert loves his mother and he missed her too, but the personal feeling are nothing when compared with the broken order of things. If the simple rules governing Robert’s world are broken then the universe might collapse.  Robert didn’t want that to happen so he kept screaming and pulling Jan toward the car. “Home, home.”  To avoid continuing display of robert’s determination, Jan  decided to wait in the car as I was snailing through the airport security.  And thus they waited.  Jan patiently repeating that they wait, that she would arrive soon, that they will all go home and bring home the towel as well.

When he finally saw me, Robert calmed down instantly. Maybe because he was happy to see me at last.  Or maybe because now, nothing would prevent the towel from reaching home.

In the past, many times we experienced similar issues.  When directly after horseback lesson, Robert and his father drove to the beach, Robert protested vehemently. “Home, home, home”  he kept demanding all the way to the beach.  “Home, home, home”  he insisted while walking along the beach. “Home, home, home” he kept perseverating in his favorite restaurant. Similar thing happened when after kayaking lesson, he, his sister, and his dad went camping instead of returning home first. To address those issues we kept giving Robert prior notices of expected changes in familiar routines. And when I say “notice” I mean repeating the same thing many times, writing a schedule and reading it.  As a result, Robert is now content when we go to the beach immediately after riding lesson.

I don’t doubt that Robert loves me and wanted me to be home.  Just like I know that Robert loves Horseneck Beach and Bay Restaurant. But when order of things that Robert  rigidly established for himself is being undermined, he protests in  despair.

For the Record 12

April 19, 2019

I am almost afraid to admit that, but during the last few months, Robert became much calmer and happier.  I am afraid, because I still remember recurring periods of time of Robert being in distress. His screaming, his hitting his own face. I am afraid because  I still don’t know why that was happening and I don’t know why now, he seems so different with screaming and hitting his face gone.  Gone are red spots on his face where series after series of quick seemingly light patting broke the skin.  But my memory of those moments remains and I am still concerned.

With the arrival of spring, our trips to Sunapee Mountain were replaced by equally long excursions to Wellfleet Wildlife Sanctuary on Cape Cod. The mysterious recurrence of high and low tides was not lost on Robert.  Walking silently with his father, he contemplated the vast area of either water covering wavy grasses of the marshes or equally wide extent of the suddenly bare bottom of the bay.

Besides that change his weekly activities remain the same swimming, horse back riding, trips with Tim to Five Guys for hamburger dinner, and everyday study with me.

Each day this week our work included:

1. Unit from No-Glamour Sentence Structure. It is the fourth or fifth time we used this book as we return to it every year or two.

2.A page from Comprehending”Conditional Directions” that Begin with “IF”. In the past I used a simplified drawing of two columns with “yes” and “no” as their headings.  I cut each sentence in two parts and ask Robert to place the part starting with “IF” in one of the columns.  Placing in “YES” required Robert to put in the same column the second part.  Placing in “NO’ demanded that Robert throws the second part to the waste basket and do nothing. This time around I stopped after reading the first part of the sentence and wait for Robert to say, “yes” or “no” and either follow the direction expressed in the second part or do not.  We still have a lot of problems with this approach so I need to evaluate it and possibly change it.

3. Two pages from Maps, Charts, Graphs & Diagrams. This gives Robert an opportunity to review topics he has learned before either through five levels of Daily Geography Practice,  or by making or reading bar, line, and circle graphs as they were introduced in many math curricula.  As for diagrams, Robert became familiar with them by learning science topics such as body systems, layers of rain forest or solar system.

4. A page from Say and Glue for Language and Listening. However, we are using it for independent work.  Robert did something similar years ago, but I had to assist him if not by giving clues, then by just sitting next to him. Now, I leave him alone with the task.

5. A page from Work booklet of Functional Routines. But this time we go through intermediate level as we went through basic one a few month ago.

6. Practice of  pronunciation  with a page from Weber Giant Book and (this is new)  with  cards from Syllable Drilling. I read a few cards an ask Robert to repeat and then Robert reads a few cards by dividing into syllables and I repeat after him.

7. A chapter from one of the books from Usborne Young Reading. Currently we are on chapter 4th of The Story of Flying.

We continue to shop with Robert doing all cashier work at self-serve cash register. Robert continues to do laundry independently, although sometimes, when one sock is left out of the pile, he turns the washing machine again, just for this one sock.  He does vacuum rug in the living room, bt is not very eager to do so.

Oh well,.

 

Bittersweet Skiing

March 26 – April 9, 2019

I remember Robert, not even three years old at that time, wearing a new, still shining winter suit, standing on the brand new skis, and holding to the tree a few feet from the parking lot and a couple of feet above it.   Jan placed him there and hoped that Robert wouldn’t dare to move  during those few minutes Jan needed to attach skis to Amanda’s boots.  Robert shouldn’t dare to move, as it was the first time he was going skiing. The very first time he was standing in skis on the snow. He shouldn’t.  But he did dare. He went down to another tree and then to another.

I remember Robert wiggling under Jan’s arm as they waited for the ski lift up the Blue Hill Mountain.  I could still hear his loud protests from the distance of 50 or 100 feet.  But as I trudged through the snow to persuade Jan to give up on teaching Robert skiing, they  were already moving up with Robert still expressing his displeasure.

But then, he was hooked. The very next time, he waited silently in line to the lift and moved his little legs eagerly following the skier in front of him.

I remember how easy it was to recognize Jan and Robert going down the Nashoba mountain.  They looked like upside down letter Y with Robert’s head glued to Jan’s leg while Robert’s skis were a feet away from Jan’s.

I remember Robert’s waist  tied to a red leash held  by his father as he moved down the Wachusetts Mountain.   Robert liked being first and going straight down. Faster and faster.

It has to be said that Jan had never given Robert any instruction, They just skied together. It also need to be said, that I don’t remember Robert ever falling, although I was told that it did happen once.

During those early years, Robert was not afraid to go fast with his skies parallel to each other. The slopes were not too steep and the distances were shorter. Robert didn’t feel any need to listen to anybody. Yet somehow he mustered instinctively, I believe, the skill of stopping abruptly.  I remember him going down toward me and the wooden fence behind me.  I was terrified that he would hit himself.  I spread my arms wide attempting to catch him, but a few steps from me, Robert made 180 degree turn and stopped.

The first time Robert was ready to accept skiing instruction was when Jan, Amanda, and Robert ventured by mistake on the steep slope on Cannon Mountain. Robert spread his skis widely and waited to be rescued or given a manageable  advice. Then slowly in wide wedge position he moved down to where his father and sister were waiting.  In this position he skied all the way to the bottom.

Sadly, from that point on, he decided that this is the only way to go.

Robert, Jan and Amanda skied on Snow  and Killington Mountain in Vermont, on Cannon Mountain, Loon Mountain and in Water Valley in New Hampshire.  But most often Robert skied on Sunapee Mountain with NESHA instructors.

This year he skied with them 13 full days.  He followed them turning left and right, bouncing up and down on all ski terrain.  He smiled and smiled and smiled and smiled….

He followed Eric, Deirdre, Kathy and Kate.  He listened to Barbara and Bill.  He was turning from one NEHSA volunteer to another as they attempted to work on reducing the wedge and become more attentive and flexible.  During this 13 times he skied with more than 20 volunteer instructors. And Jan followed them.  Often,  he couldn’t keep up, he was more and more behind.

Sometimes the instructors specially made Robert turn from one instructor to another on the opposite side of the trail to give Jan time to catch up.

Once, Jan was so far behind that, after waiting for a while, Robert and his instructors went on the lift without him.  Jan was a little sad but also extremely proud of Robert and …himself.

 

Tangible Argument

March 22, 2019

The last few weeks were pretty calm. Robert has NOT been hitting his face and ha has been NOT screaming. I don’t know why he stopped but I didn’t know why he was doing that in the first place. I am still not sure if there was an underlying medical condition which resulted in severe pain  or if he was “just” angry about something. It is possible that an underlying medical condition , like itching from his eczema made him more irritable and impatient. The fact that he couldn’t reveal the reason for his distress made his anguish even more severe.

Because I don’t know the reasons, I am still afraid that the nightmare (because that was a nightmare) of his anguish might return unexpectedly.

Still, we all enjoyed those few peaceful weeks.

The drawer

A few days ago, as Robert was putting away laundry, I heard a sad cooing coming from his room. I peaked in and saw Robert sitting on the floor and trying to do two things: place all of his shirts in a drawer and simultaneously reattach its falling bottom. It was a daunting task. There were too many shirts and the drawer was too old to withstand their pressure.  Confronted with the impossibility of solving this conundrum, Robert responded with gentle, nonetheless, heartrending cooing.

So I said, what I had been saying before many times.  “Robert, there are too many shirts.  We have to put summer shirts with short sleeves in the box in the closet. ” I took one such shirt and placed it in the box.  I prepared myself for a strong resistance expecting Robert to take the shirt back.  After all that was what he did many times in the past. He wanted to keep all his shirts together no matter what was the season of the year and no matter how how full the drawer was .He managed to always put this shirts back even when I hid them from him.  But not this time.  He didn’t remove the shirt from the box but to the contrary he kept taking out one shirt after another and kept passing to me all short sleeved ones.  He returned the long-sleeved shirts back to the drawer.  Then he put the bottom of the drawer back in its grooves. Finally, he closed the drawer .

It was a small thing but  it left me speechless. So many times I tried to achieve the same results and failed every time.  But then I used only words to convince Robert.  This time the drawer presented Robert with a strong, tangible argument and he got it.

The Mystery of the Disappearing T-shirt

March 17, 2019

I don’t know how many  white, short-sleeved T-shirt Robert has and how many his father does. I know that Robert has plenty, When all of them are clean, it is very hard to close the drawer were they are kept. I know also that Robert’s dad wears crew neck style T-shirts while Robert prefers v-neck ones. Robert knows that too and properly places one kind in the chest in his bedroom and the other kind in his dad’s dresser.

Last Friday, however, the peaceful activity of folding laundry was interrupted by Robert’s sudden agitation. “White shirt, white shirt”, he kept repeating as he was checking drawers in both bedrooms. “White shirt, white shirt”  He repeated louder as he went to the hamper with dirty clothes and examined them too.  He didn’t find what he was looking for. He rechecked the dryer from which he had took laundry just few minutes before.  Nothing. There was one more place when the shirt or what might be left of the shirt could be.  In the bathroom under the sink where we keep torn articles of garment to use them later for cleaning. Robert doesn’t mind that old clothes can be recycled in this way.  He also accepts the fact that clothes he overgrew can be donated, as long as he donates them himself.  What he doesn’t accept is that clothes disappear. He became more and more anxious and loud.  Hoping to distract him, Jan decided to take Robert to the store.  Well, that didn’t work as Robert couldn’t forget about the white T-shirt that wasn’t  anymore. So in a store and in a car, Robert’s despair only grew. “white shirt, white shirt, white shirt, white shirt…..”

Upon returning home, he resumed his search.  He looked under the bed covers in both bedrooms and under the pillow,  He rechecked the old places. Only then, I suggested that the shirt might be hidden in the back of a new laundry machine. Robert ran to check that possibility.  Since he also stopped repeating “White shirt, white shirt” , I concluded that he found what he looked for. I don’t know if that was crew neck T-Shirt of V-Shaped T-shirt. I was glad that Robert solved the m ystery of the disappearing shirt and relaxed. However, another mystery keeps bothering me.  How did he know that one of those identical (at least identical for me)  shirts was missing.  No, he didn’t count them.  He was checking each shirt separately, unfolding it, spreading in front of his eyes and examining carefully.  He not only knew that one shirt was missing, he knew exactly WHICH shirt that was.