Reconstructing Robert’s World 2

I can imagine what went through a young teacher’s mind when Robert tried to prevent me from entering his classroom. ‘She must be a terrible mother if Robert cannot t tolerate her presence!’  The first time it happened I was both confused and hurt.  Almost as hurt as that young teacher who came for the first “home visit”  and Robert tried to stop her from entering out house. Robert’s reactions were not an expression of his emotional attachment or lack of it.  Robert’s reactions were caused by his strong belief that people and spaces do not mix.  I didn’t belong to his classroom.  The young teacher didn’t belong in our house.

The same principle ruled who could take Robert to McDonald’s or Applebee’s restaurant. Juan and other respite providers could take Robert to McDonald’s.  Parents’ couldn’t. We could take Robert to Applebee’s and other restaurants.  Robert didn’t mind a new restaurant as long as the people belonging to different spheres didn’t mix there.

Once we invited Robert’s teachers with their husbands to a Ground Round (I think) restaurant to  celebrate Robert’s birthday. As soon as  Robert noticed his teachers entering the  restaurant’s  room the complete disaster ensued! It couldn’t be fixed.  My husband had to take Robert home.

It took me a while to understand how rigidly Robert assigned people to particular space or activity.  He didn’t do that when he was 3 or 4 years old.  He started doing that around his sixth or seventh birthday.  He tried to organize people and places with his own logic and rules. When those separate worlds invaded each other it was the end of both worlds.

For a long time I believed that there was no point in trying to understand Robert’s motives.  Since the motives were almost impossible to understand I should have been concerned with visible, measurable behaviors and their management.

I am not so sure any more.

In the end, understanding how Robert perceived his world/worlds allowed me to take steps to change that perception and  show him that people and spaces  mix, often for the better, so everybody can take him to McDonald.

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