You Get What You Expect

For two years Robert was included in the first grade class with typical peers.  When he was six and/or seven years old once a week he went with his teacher from private school to the  public school in Southboro to participate in English class.  It must have been an exciting year for him as the children, under their teacher’s guidance, treated him as if he were one of them. So he felt this way.  They admired the fact that he could read although he couldn’t talk. So he was motivated to read more. He learned to follow the group and was motivated to imitate other children’s action. He did what was expected of him.  This  teacher retired before I could thank her not only for a wonderful treatment of my son but also for her ability to influence other children to accept someone so different from them.  I still have a class newspaper where she and a few of her students wrote simply and beautifully about what they had learned from Robert’s visits.

Following year, Robert participated in the  art class at the same school. Probably with some assistance, he made a few beautiful art projects.

One day, the teacher from private school mentioned that Robert could color.  I hardly believed her because in the past, Robert had so much trouble  staying within lines that I gave up on teaching him coloring completely.  To my surprise, however, Robert could color.  He could color very well. He had, so-called,  an eye for details. Staying within contours of the picture was not a problem.   The smaller the details the more precisely Robert colored them.  Since “coloring”  was not a goal in his IEP I didn’t know when exactly Robert mastered that skill.  I didn’t know how he learned it.  Did his teacher helped him?  How many times?  Did he just observe other students busy with their coloring and follow their lead? It was probably a mixture of the urge to be like other students and the assistance from his teacher that resulted in such precise coloring.  I was just very happy that Robert learned something  useful.  From that time on I could give him a page to color knowing that he could do it independently  without me sitting next to him. Time for him to mature.  Time for me to relax.

I also sort of felt proud of Robert.  He was behaving so …”typically”.

Or so I thought.

A few years later, Robert started to participate in after school program for children with special needs.  Twice a week I drove him there at 3PM and picked him at 5:30PM.   A few responsible adults worked there with many young volunteers from high school and nearby college.  On some days before the pick up time,  the children were given crayons and coloring pages with very simple drawing so they could relax  while doing this easy activity.  The pictures were spread on a table when I came to pick up Robert.  Robert didn’t color one picture, he colored 3 or 4 of them. But his coloring was reduced to hasty scribbling of  big circles all across the pages  without any consideration for  contours of the pictures.  I was flabbergasted.  I couldn’t understand  what was happening.  He could color so well!   What was the problem?  Did the shapes were too big and/or  too simple? Was he  bored?  Was he unable to focus?  Did he took a cue of how  he was supposed to color from a picture colored in similar way by one of his friends? But where were his counselors?  Shouldn’t they provide some support, instruction, guidance?  They probably would if they believed that Robert could do a better job.  But they didn’t expect anything better than those circles, so Robert did what they expected.

The same situation repeated itself many times in different circumstances.

All summer long Robert played in the swimming pool of his camp and not even once he swam across the pool.  His counselors didn’t know that he could swim 30 laps in 30 minutes.  They didn’t expect him to swim, so Robert adjusted his behavior to their expectations and didn’t swim.

At the skating ring, young and wonderful volunteers wouldn’t let Robert skate on his own despite my asking them to let him go.  They were afraid. They didn’t believe Robert could skate.  So they held him by both hands.  As soon as Robert grabbed  their hands he hung on them (he was little, they were big)  and passively let them lead him.  He did what they expected to the fault.  In the end, his young teacher took him to the same ring and  in five minutes Robert was skating on his own.He didn’t suddenly learn to skate. The teacher knew what Robert was capable off and Robert performed to match this teacher’s expectations.

Unfortunately, many  people who meet my son don’t know what to expect.   Robert won’t tell them.  Moreover, he is so attuned to what they expect that he will not do anything to change their perception or exceed their expectations.

There were times when I had to prove that Robert can do something before the school agreed to build on that skill and take it further.

There were times when I didn’t expect Robert to learn, to know , to understand.  So it took him much longer to learn, to know to understand.

As a parent I was sometimes treated with suspicion as a person who expect her child to learn much more than he was capable of learning. The truth is that I too was infected with a plague of low expectations and my son paid the price.

Outback! Outback! Outback To the Rescue!

Robert, like most of us, uses words he knows to label things which have names he is not familiar with.  Once, as he was looking for a bath mitt, he used the phrase “two rags”. I didn’t have any idea what he wanted.  Finally, he led me to the bathroom and pointed to the place where the mitt was supposed to be. Robert didn’t use the word “mitt”, he also knew  because  this mitt had a shape of a rectangle without a separate compartment for a thumb. So it didn’t look like a mitt.   Another time, he was looking for “snake, door” .  It took me a while to realize that he was searching for a draft protector, which, as I learned later, is often sold as a “door snake”. During our trip to Disneyland, my husband and I learned about another idiosyncratic way Robert uses words.

Star Wars Tour was the first ride we went on.  We took our seats in the  row second to the last.  Robert sat, as always,between my husband and me.   Since he had never been before in  Disneyland, he felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety so, just in case, he held on firmly to our wrists.   Judging by the spark of recognition in his eyes, the first scenes of the movie seemed vaguely familiar to him.  He also must have recognized the music because he loosened his clutch. But when the chairs started jerking us around he became unsettled and tighten his  grip on our wrists.” The spaceship”, we were in, accelerated and centrifugal forces tilted our chairs to the right, to the left, forward, and backward in unpredictable, forceful ways. The roar of the spaceship’s engines replaced the music in a menacing racket. The floor seemed to be moving under our feet and seats.

The terrified call cut through the noise,

“Outback! Outback! Outback!”

A moment later another desperate plea filled intergalactic space,

“Fries! Fries! Fries!”

Robert screamed for Outback and fries with eyes widen with horror. Rather embarrassed, I hoped that the noises coming from  spaceship tearing through galaxies would muffle Robert’s screams and spare other travelers from the confusion my husband and I felt. I was  quite perplexed not understanding why Robert, who just had a good breakfast, demanded food in such a dramatic way.

To calm Robert down, I quickly promised, “Outback later”.  As soon as I did that I realized that Robert did not demand food, but salvation. He wanted to be immediately transported to a safe place.

I assured Robert, ” It is only a movie.  Just a movie.  Like in IMAX , or like Hitchhikers’ Guide. Just the chairs are moving too.” Robert understood.   He removed his hands from our wrists and laughed.  He glanced at me with a proud expression signalizing the  fear conquered by maturity and relaxed. He watched attentively to the end of the presentation and appeared disappointed when the show was over.

Robert knows the word “help”.  He was  taught to say it and to use it in a few appropriate situations.  Yet, he had never been in a position which would require calling for help. Until, of course , during this thrill ride.

I  have mixed feelings about  Robert using words “Outback” and “Fries” to express the sensation of being in a danger. On one hand, I do wish that Robert could ask for help in a typical way  so we would  react properly.  On the other hand, I understand that in an assumed danger, Robert wanted to be transferred to a safe and known environment of a favorite restaurant and comforted by food that  would calm his turning upside down stomach.

Isn’t that what we all want one way or another?

Unlearning

Before Robert’s third birthday, he and I played with Duplo blocks. We built  simple structures by lining  the blocks along the edges of the base or stacking them on top of each other.  To make those structures  a little more interesting I began to  alternate blocks.  White, red, white red.  Soon, Robert followed building white and red towers or white and red paths.  It seemed  such an easy task to learn  that there was no point of practicing it over next year or year and a half.  During that year, Robert was practicing matching by color, matching identical pictures, or matching pictures of the same, but differently looking,  objects. (For instance, differently looking tables.) .   When he was already four and a half years old, I noticed that he couldn’t complete a simple ABABA pattern.  So I brought back Duplo blocks assuming that Robert would recognize the task he had already mastered 18 months before and build the tower alternating white and red blocks. But he was unable to do that.  He placed red on red and white on white.  The paths could be all white or all red. Moreover, this time, I was unable to teach Robert to alternate colors  I tried many times and failed.  ( In the end I used Robert’s strong urge to match by color by having him to match the path I built with alternating colors.  Later, a friend of mine advised me to use a kindergarten level computer program where the skill of  completing patterns was taught by matching the pictures in the top row by placing identical ones in the row below. When the identical matching was completed, the pictures from lower row were immediately transported to the top row to extend the pattern.)

When I realized that Robert could not alternate blocks by colors, I began to doubt my memory.  Could Robert really complete white and red pattern before?  Did I make it up? How could he unlearn the skill that came to him so easily before?  Where his resistance to alternating colors came from?  Did too many months of  identical matching resulted in Robert’s strong conviction that this is the only way to go?

I can only hypothesize why Robert lost the skill he had.  Yet I strongly believe that had I continued working with Robert on varying the tasks presented to him, he might have not developed this rigidity in thinking. If the matching of “same with same” were interspersed with practicing patterns, the learning of a new skill might take longer but the “unlearning” might not happen.

Bitter Digression

I wrote this comment in April.  I posted it and then I switched it to “Private” .  I felt it was too bitter and too accusatory to be left here.  But this is what I believe each and every day.  Moreover, I think that these feelings/observations are shared by many parent of children with disabilities. 

As I am writing this blog I often feel immobilized by resentments and regrets.  For the last three days I wanted to write about how Robert learned to be helpless. But this topic is not only complex but also loaded with  bitter reflections. They come from the fact that  too often and for too long I was not able to assure that Robert  was taught properly at schools he attended.  There is no doubt that I had times when I felt stressed by caring for Robert.  Yet the stress related to dealing with Robert’s schools was usually much higher. I experienced  times of relative contentment when many of my son’s needs were addressed properly and times of terrible hurt when I watched my son pushed back on a downhill slope of regression.

In this system parent has to be a  teacher, lawyer, negotiator, enforcer of the quality of education while at the same time he/she is kept blind  and has his/her hands tied.  It is an inhuman system. The emphasis on following the special education laws leads to emphasizing administrative paperwork  and not the classroom practices. That has a terrible  effect on children’s education as it leads to ignoring the significance of  the quality of the education delivery – teachers training as it relates to specific disabilities, application of proper methods, good curricula, and most importantly, the quality of education the future teachers receive at their graduate schools.

The  quality of special education received by students with disabilities can be, theoretically,  assessed by parents.  But who is checking the quality of education the future teachers receive at their graduate schools?

Teaching Robert is easy.  Teaching educators is hard but doable. Teaching people who teach future teachers? Impossible.


On Laundry and Learned Helplessness 1

Around his 11 birthday (+/-1) Robert began helping with  household chores.  He folded laundry and  put away dishes.  At first, he was only assisting me.  Later, he took over and didn’t allow me to help him. Whenever I tried to join him, he directed me to the computer desk,  ordered me to sit behind it and not interfere with his work.  He repeated, “Robert, Robert” to make sure I understood that all the work was his to do. I tried to leave something for him to do every day. When he worked, I didn’t have to watch him. He was busy, focused, and didn’t do anything inappropriate.  When he didn’t work, he had to be observed closely.

Around that time he started doing laundry at home. He put dirty clothes in a washing machine, pour a cup of a detergent, turned the machine on, switched the clothes to the drier, set the drier on, and took clothes out.

Except

1.He didn’t separate whites from colored or even black clothes.

2. He always put ALL the dirty clothes from a hamper or two into the machine.

3.When the washing machine stopped mid-circle because of the imbalance , Robert took dripping clothes out and placed them in the drier.

I had to intervene.    Whenever I heard the washing machine being turned on I ran to the laundry room, removed all the clothes (wet already), and told Robert to separate white and not white. Except he didn’t quite comprehend “not-white” and seemed to respond  only to the “white” part of the “not-white” phrase.  He made many mistakes I corrected.   Robert didn’t say anything, allowed me to correct him, but as soon as I left, he added all the remaining clothes to the washing machine.  This chain of events repeated itself a few times.   I always demanded that he separates whites and not whites. He always had problems  with that request.  I always stopped him from overloading, he always overloaded later. He didn’t protest, but as soon as he saw me disappearing behind the corner of a staircase, he returned to the laundry room and tried to “fix”  the laundry the way he considered it fitting.

Then one day he stopped putting clothes in the washing machine.

He continues to take dirty clothes to the laundry room.  He tells me to do laundry (“Laundry, laundry”) when his drawers get empty.  He still switches laundry from the washing machine to the drier.He still takes laundry out and folds it.

But for the last eight years, he has never turned on a washing machine.  Never.

With all my corrections, explanations, and instructions I convinced him that he was not able to  wash clothes.

And he believed me.

Could I do anything differently? Of course.  I could have prepared just one load of laundry for him to do each day, so he wouldn’t be able  to overload.  I could later add one or two differently colored items to the hamper, show them to Robert as standing out, and take them out with me upon leaving Robert in the laundry room to ” independently” initiate washing .

I wonder why I didn’t?

Importance of Little Words

There are long words like “multiplication” and “reciprocal” . Robert has difficulty saying them but understands their meanings.  There are also little words like “instead”.  Robert can say them, but is not sure what they mean.  When I advised, “Multiply instead of dividing” , it was the word “instead” that confused him.  Many speech pathologists  suggest to teach children with disabilities  those important little words  such as “First… Then, If, Before, After”  to give the children tools to mentally organize their space and time.  The word “instead” should join the list of such words.

The concept of replacing one thing with the other was unacceptable to Robert.  When he was younger he refused to wear new shoes or a new jacket. He screamed and tried to get out of his car seat  when I changed the route home.  He protested going on a different trail in the park he visited often  although in any new park he could follow any path. He had extremely hard time throwing away broken dishes or toys.  He didn’t want to buy anything new with a smart exception of food, balloons and bubbles. He , simply, didn’t condone replacing  one thing with another.

As  he grew, he became more flexible in accepting unavoidable substitutions.

Yet, they still confuse him. When Robert couldn’t follow my verbal advice on multiplying and yet was able to apply written algebraic  formula, I assumed that he didn’t know the word “instead”.  It is also possible that he knew the word’s meaning but was reluctant to replace a sign for division with a sign for multiplication.  He might perceived the very act of doing one thing (multiplying)  IN PLACE  of another (dividing) as utterly wrong.

Interestingly, when he saw written formula, his resistance disappeared.  With the support of the algebraic equation he divided fluently and soon mastered this algorithm.

What does the problem Robert encountered with the word “instead” tells  about language – thinking connection?  Can a person understand the essence (the act)  of “instead” without learning the term for this concept?  Does the knowledge of such words as “before, if, next, and instead” help elicit thinking or ‘only’ organize thinking?

Or, vice versa, does Robert’s dislike of replacing one thing with another results in diminished understanding of the word “instead”?

To what degree those of Robert’s behaviors which look like they were caused by  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder would decrease if Robert was familiar with the concept of “instead” ?

Those are important questions.  Since, however, I cannot answer any of them, I have to concentrate on finding a way to teach word and and the concept behind it.

As Robert applies written formula to divide fractions I interject the word “instead” every time he changes division to multiplication.  “Instead, instead, instead.”  Then I start the sentence and wait for Robert to finish, “You multiply….” Robert continues, ” Instead of…”

The hard to understand his approximation for “divide” follows.

Teaching While Learning How to Teach

In one of the previous posts I wrote about three steps in teaching Robert a skill.  The first step is the hardest to explain.  I don’t expect Robert to learn the skill.  I lead him step by step through the procedure, I talk to him knowing that he doesn’t understand most of what I am saying, no matter how simple they seem to me.  It is as if I asked him to look through the window of a moving train and notice an object we were passing by.  I wouldn’t expect Robert to notice any of the specific features of that object.  For now a realization that there is something out there will suffice. We will study it intensively another time.  That would be a second step. Next we would proceed to finding the same object in its different manifestations and various environments… In other words Robert  would generalize the skill.

When I described those steps  I omitted the most important function of the first step. Besides exposing Robert to an existence of something new, this step is for me to learn how to teach Robert. I observe Robert to know  which of the steps I am leading him through he can climb on his own, which words he recognizes, which he doesn’t, and what other support I will need to provide to assure learning.

There were times when  I skipped this first step.  I jumped into intensive teaching without strategic reconnaissance.  I expected Robert to learn something I didn’t know how to teach.  I was putting pressure on Robert not on myself.

What I am writing is not about a teacher being prepared  for a lesson (for instance by writing a lesson plan).  The lesson plan is an important tool, but for children like Robert it is just  like a hypothesis.  It doesn’t assure learning.  It only sets the stage for testing of the hypothesis.  The first step, as I understand it, is about checking the hypothesis. You don’t know how to teach before you start to teach and analyze responses – good and bad, complete and partial. The teacher has to learn from those responses and then develop  proper strategies, check them again, revise them again until he or she finds the best approach to teaching this specific skill to this specific student.

Just yesterday I tried to teach Robert to divide fractions. I had a lesson plan.  I had already practiced with Robert prerequisite skills like finding reciprocals.   I used simple words.  The words he knew – multiply , divide, flip the fraction over, reciprocal, reciprocal..

He couldn’t grasp the division.  That should be fine. The mistake was that I expected him to learn and consequently subjected him to the same method over and over.  That lead to more errors and repeated failures.  The failures lead to frustration and learned helplessness…

I shouldn’t pressure Robert  to learn during that phase.  I should be the one who was supposed to learn during that time. I had to take a breath and think about this failed attempt.

When I did,  I noticed  that although Robert understands when I say, “Multiply four by seven.  Divide 42 by six”  he doesn’t understand me when I say, “multiply instead of dividing”.  I observed that for Robert finding reciprocal to the separately standing fraction is not the same as finding reciprocal during division. I came to a conclusion that relying on language concepts that Robert used only in limited numbers of applications was not working. I understood that I would have to to experiment with different methods of presenting the new information.

In the end  I used abstract algebraic formula: “a/b : m/n = a/b * n/m .  This approach I would use with “typical” students. It seemed much too abstract for  Robert.  But since  I was only experimenting it was no harm in trying it. I introduced this formula not expecting Robert to learn it and use it.  I pointed it to him as if that was that object we had  seen from the passing train.  Somehow this formula seemed for Robert easy to follow.  Much easier than my verbal directions. I found a way to teach.  The phase one was over. Let’s move to the next.

One might point out to me, that even during a failed phase of intensive teaching I  was still learning how to teach.  That is true.  Yet I was also subjecting Robert and myself to unnecessary frustration by rigidly sticking to one approach instead of investigating its effects and being ready to flexibly adjust it.  I should have taken a breath, led Robert through the activity (just stopping it without finishing would leave negative residues which also should be avoided) as calmly as possible.  Then, I should have taken time and rethink the whole process in connection with everything I knew about Robert and started over.

Pica, Rumination, and Other “Behaviors” 2

I learned about Robert’s rumination during a meeting with Robert’s teacher and her clinical supervisor at  ABA school. Before that meeting I had never noticed that Robert tended to bring  the food back from his stomach, “play” with it in his mouth, and return it to the stomach.   I knew neither what ruminating was nor that Robert was doing it.   I assumed that it was a different name for pica. It took me a while to realize that the teacher and I were talking about different things. I credit the teacher for stating that the causes and treatments of rumination could be behavioral and/or medical. Robert’s school took upon itself to deal with behavioral aspect of rumination.

It was my responsibility to deal with medical side of rumination.  Yet I didn’t do anything about it until Robert was almost 18 years old.  The reasons/excuses why I didn’t take any radical steps to address this syndrome immediately are as follows:

1. The rumination seemed to (almost) disappear during Robert’s stay at ABA school. The way the school dealt with it worked so well, that I didn’t observe it at home. I forgot about it.

2.Rumination flared up during periods of Robert’s increased anxiety, specifically his second year in Collaborative program and the fourth year in Public School. Unfortunately, during those times I encountered  severe problems with both educational settings and needed to address the serious consequences of those problems. The rumination seemed less important.

3. During more visible periods of rumination I gave Robert 1-2 calcium tablets a day following the advice I received on Me-List.  Calcium (Tums) seemed to reduce the problems slightly. I had a feeling that I was “treating” it.

4.The gastroenterologist, who had seen Robert a few times for painful gases, constipation, pica, food intolerance (beside food allergies), and rumination, suggested endoscopy and colonoscopy to clarify medical picture.  I thought Robert couldn’t do it.

Well, I couldn’t .

Then I felt we had to.  The tests pointed, among other things, to acid reflux. Robert was put on omeprezole.  At first he received a stronger dose to  break the habit of “playing” with the food and to heal his esophagus.  Later the dose was reduced.  This treatment helped a lot.

Although I am not sure if we were able to do the tests sooner I regret not even trying.

The earlier diagnosis could bring Robert very needed relief.  It would also allow Robert’s teachers and me  to separate those “behaviors” that were reactions to discomforts of various degrees from those which had different causes.

If a teacher/parent  knows that a child is screaming and hitting his own face because he/she is in pain the response is empathy and understanding.   When the child does the same things because she/he wants to escape demands or  doesn’t accept changes to the environment the reaction is different and depends on a previously chosen strategy. (It might be based on Functional Analysis of Behavior.)

When I suspected that Robert might be  in pain but wasn’t sure of it, my reactions were chaotic and ambivalent and as such didn’t address Robert’s behaviors in any case.

On Language. His and Mine

A few months ago Robert was classifying vehicles. He was supposed to place  a picture of a vehicle in one of the three categories : air, land, or water.   I didn’t anticipate any mistakes.  Based on my previous experiences with teaching Robert, this activity should be almost mechanical.  I was using it only as a visual support for practicing speech.   While placing each object in a proper column Robert was expected to say for instance, ” Airplane goes in the air” . To my dismay, Robert was making mistakes.  Many of them.   I couldn’t understand. He should have known. Yet he didn’t. Why?  I decided to present Robert with just two categories . I removed “land” leaving only “air” and “water”.  No errors.  “Air” and “land” many errors.  “Land” and “water” no errors.

It was clear, Robert couldn’t differentiate between objects  moving through the air and those moving on land. Did he forget? I showed him proper answers and repeated the task.  No improvement.   Was I mistaken in assuming that he knew what vehicles could fly?  I decided to check if he could hand me all the flying objects. He could.  No errors.

I replaced the word “air”  with the word “sky” . Now the categories were: sky, land, and water. Robert classified all the vehicles correctly.

I understood my blunder.  I assumed that if Robert knew what flew in the sky he should have known what traveled through air.  Since he knew that airplanes flew in the sky he should have known that “air”, in this context,  meant “sky”.  But then I recognized that he also knew that the airport was on the land. So…

How confusing!

Pica, Rumination, and Other “Behaviors” 1

I don’t remember noticing pica (eating inedible objects) when Robert was a toddler.  It might be that  my  memory decided to ignore that fact. It might be that I simply didn’t notice pica as I was overwhelmed with many piling problems. But it also might be that this behavior  was not present yet.  I noticed this disorder when Robert was almost five.  Robert knew that he was not supposed to put inedible objects into his mouth so he tried to hide this habit and mostly succeeded.   I remember one of his teachers from ABA program telling me that she worked with Robert while the other teacher was observing and yet they both missed the moment when Robert put a piece of a crayon in his mouth.  By the time he was ten years old, Robert’s ability to conceal his habits became uncanny. At home I had not noticed Robert even touching winter insulation of windows and doors. I saw him looking through windows, nothing else. I became  suspicious when I found out that  many parts of the insulation were missing.   I could sit next to Robert on a sofa watching TV with him and  not notice that he was pulling fluffy stuff from the sofa’s pillow through a little hole along the seam and placing this cotton like substance in his mouth. Whenever I turned to him he was watching TV completely engrossed in the movie.  I finally connected thinning pillow and missing insulation to Robert’s pica and bouts of aggressions, self injurious behaviors, and very dramatic screaming.  I removed the insulation, I replaced the old sofa and the frequency and severity of those behaviors decreased dramatically.  But not completely.

There was another substance to blame:  silly putty.

Robert loved silly putty, craved silly putty, played with silly putty, and …ate silly putty. Silly putty seemed to be a great reinforcer.  Robert would do everything for it, read, write, count, and follow directions.  Moreover,he was playing very appropriately.  He  rolled, squeezed, and stretched.  So his teachers and I were not able to write such powerful  reinforcer off.  We  thought that we would just keep it under strict  control, limiting Robert’s access to it and observing him very closely.

We were deceiving ourselves.

We were no match for Robert’s ability to sneak any gooey substance into his mouth and then stomach.  We paid for our weak resolve by witnessing Robert in distress. He was in pain and we couldn’t do anything then about it.  Only when I decisively removed all silly putty, rubber balls, soft plastic materials from the house, Robert’s behavior improved significantly.

I wonder if constant reinforcing with candies, chips and juice didn’t contribute to this condition.  Constant reinforcing meant that there was something almost always in Robert’s mouth.  He might have gotten used to that feeling and craved it.  I knew that this schedule of reinforcing was not good for Robert’s teeth, but did it also aggravate or cause his pica?  

I also wonder why I didn’t know then that pica was often associated with iron deficiency.  From pediatricians to psychologists everybody assumed that pica is one of the autism related behaviors, so nobody suggested that I check Robert’s iron level.

And I didn’t.