As of Today 8

I work with Robert every day and yet I haven’t realized before today that  Robert is not aware of the differences between long and short vowels sounds.  How was it possible that I didn’t know?  I was fooled by the fact that Robert could (?) read since he was 5 years old and that he always had problems with the clarity of his pronunciation.  I worked on extending the sounds of long vowels in his speech and in his reading, but I did not go to the core of the problem.

Robert started reading through Edmark Program that relies heavily on visual discrimination of the whole words.  Because of this method he reads quickly, too quickly to be understood.  There was a time when I asked Robert’s school  to teach him  through Reading Mastery that relies on phonics.   The school started it, but the teacher was not very familiar with method.  Yes, it is a direct instruction, which should be self – explanatory to teachers but it wasn’t and the school switched to something else.  Maybe that was my fault as around that time I bought Horizon Reading to Learn curriculum for home, but I shared it with the school.  I bought it because  it addressed reading comprehension better than any other program and it was not as expensive.  Although in Horizon there were some cues regarding decoding (for instance silent letters were printed in blue), I did not pay much attention to Robert’s clarity or reading.

So years passed by and I was not aware that Robert doesn’t  know that the same letter might evoke two sounds.

Today we were doing simple exercise.  I read the word (without Robert seeing it) and he was supposed to repeat and then tell me what long sound he heard. Finally, he should place the printed word in a proper column. It went rather well, and only twice Robert wanted to put a word under the wrong letter to make the columns equally long.  He was disturbed that the column with “e” had only three words, while the column with “u” had already five.

Later I showed him how silent “e” latter changes the sounds and meaning of the words. ( I did that with my typical (?) daughter when she was in Kindergarten. by the way) He seemed to grasp the concept easily.  Mainly because he knew all those words already.  His pronunciation for cut and cute as for many other similarly constructed words was always a little different, but now I offered him a rule as a support.  He seemed pleasantly satisfied with that information.  But maybe I am reading too much from  his sly grin.

Finding Animals and Adjectives in the ZOO

July 29, 2013

This morning, Robert and I  drove to the Roger Williams Park and Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. We left around 9:15 and arrived at the Zoo at 10:00.  Probably because of the weather , the dark clouds hang over Rhode Island,  the Zoo was not as full as it usually is on a summer vacation day.  Since there were not many parents and children to watch (animals and us)  I was much less inhibited in teaching Robert.   I decided to practice describing animals. From time to time, Robert encounters word, “adjectives”.He half knows it, and half he doesn’t.  He is not sure either what the command, “Describe it.” means.  But here in the Zoo, we had all sorts of shapes,  sizes, and colors and more.  We had adjectives by the dozens.

White and black stripes, spotted fur, long back legs   and short front legs, curved horns, straight horns, bent or hooked bills. We had it all:  tall, huge, small and tiny, heavy, fluffy, dry and wet, calm and noisy, sleepy and active, pink, red, green, blue, scary, sharp, cute, ugly, majestic, beautiful, and more.

We have had Zoo membership for 18 years now.  When Robert was six or seven years old, with my help, he made a book about zoo which was also an introduction to sentence building.  On each page of an album there was a picture of an animal, we took at the ZOO and two sentences.  The sentences Robert had to unscramble from cut out printed words.  He looked for capital letter to start the sentence and for a coma to end it.  The sentences were simple:  ” This is an elephant.  The elephant is gray.”  Robert glued the words under the pictures.  He read a book a few times.  More than 15 years ago, that was an easy task for Robert.   But to SAY similar sentences   is much harder, even now when Robert  approaches his 22nd birthday.  It is specially hard when the directions are as mysterious as, “Describe and elephant.”  and relate to a real thing instead of a picture displayed on a table. “The elephant is gray and big.  It has a long trunk.  It has wide ears.  The elephant is heavy.  The elephant has a thin tail.  ”  The sentences come slowly and with a great effort.  Some stuttering, a few omissions and a few misplaced words. It is really a challenging task.

But there is a pay off.  Between all that describing in the ZOO, there is a time and a room for a frozen lemonade.

Watermelon flavor, please.

The Evening of Doubts and Regrets

July 26, 2013

Today I did not study with Robert.  We did not do anything.  Anything.  We did not go to the store, we did not go for a walk. We did not read.  Nothing.  I learned that the summer program my son  attends , doesn’t have room for him in the fall.  Of course it is always much more complicated than that.  I have learned to read what the teachers tell me. I know that when the teacher says ” We don’t feel we can help him.” It means “He is too much to handle.”  I know that when the teacher says, that Robert is sweet, the bitter pill will follow.    It is surprising how many times that has already happened.  I usually swallow and end up even more confused.

I swallow  and I get bitter.  I blame myself for being bitter.  Whom else to blame?  I understand the teacher.  It is only six months until Robert leaves the school. That means that after six months there would be a vacancy in the program which has to sustain itself  in those hard times. Moreover, those months require a lot of extra work with transition programing.  Robert has very specific learning profile, probably not matching any other student.  That doesn’t make teaching easier. He has a mother, who writes about his learning for better or worse.  That doesn’t really help either.

I wanted Robert to have a decent program, just for those last six months in the school. I wanted him to have friends who act  more or less like him, experienced teachers who know him and have control over his behavior, a speech therapist who is in the classroom for most of the week.  This is a program my son has been attending during last two summers.  A year and two ago, the same teacher would have welcomed Robert with open arms, but my town’s  Special Ed Director would not hear about sending him there.  Now it is too late.

I couldn’t work with Robert today.  Many thoughts attacked me from different directions.  Many doubts.  Why am I  teaching Robert?  Would his knowledge became useless load?   Am I hurting Robert by teaching him fractions, or calendar and maps skills  when he hardly can talk?  Was it a mistake to increase his hours in the public school from two to the full day? Should I continue teaching him at home for most of the day?  Should I sell the house and move four years ago, when the principal, new teacher and the sped director dragged me through hell in 2010?  Why didn’t I?

What is my responsibility for allowing the school to neglect Robert, to  ignore his IEP,,to  keep him hostage between teachers who did not want to teach him and sped director who did not want to pay for programs that would teach him.  How much better he would be if I  negotiated his release from town’s program or escaped it altogether?

What does our teaching/learning do to Robert?  I know that it makes him more aware and more sensitive to his surroundings .  He better reads people emotions, he gets distressed when other people are angry and confused when other showed exasperation with him.  He reads people better.  But the people don’t read him well. They don’t know what he knows and mainly don’t want to be bothered. He doesn’t have any tools to defends himself against false assumptions.  Am I hurting my son by teaching him?  I am extending his knowledge without improving his ability to communicate it .  That has to make him unhappy, does it? What he will do with everything he learned.  Most of the people will ignore his skills or render them useless just like a few influential people in his school.

I try to equip Robert in skills and knowledge to access the world, the same world  that ignores or dismisses his right to know and understand.

Am I making him even weirder?  So what  am I exactly doing to Robert when I am teaching him?


Socrates Does Not Need to Apply. Not Yet.

A few months ago,  I considered writing the post, about  Socratic Method (Although now, I am not sure if this is the appropriate name. ) versus intensive teaching through discrete trials and verbal behavior.  According to this method, as it was presented to me long ago, the teacher, master really, should only help the student to uncover what the student already had in his/her mind.  The teacher was supposed to  lead the student through questions to the truth or, at least,  to the rejections of false assumptions, by showing the student  the consequences of the student’s chain of arguments.

Socratic  method would be impossible to apply to my son’s teaching, because it implicitly requires that the student and the teacher start with the same  core  knowledge and use the similar reasoning strategies.  The student might know  less than his master, might make errors here and there, but the teacher can still rely on some shared knowledge, and shared strategies.

When teaching Robert, however, I have to establish that core knowledge first.  Not  because Robert doesn’t have the basic information or skills, but because I don’ t have a way to access what he knows and how he knows it.  I have to create points of reference before the path for the Socratic Method could be created.

I realized that while I was working with Robert on worksheets addressing reading comprehension.  Since I am not a reading specialist, I treated reading comprehension like a test.  Robert read the text and then was supposed to answer a set  of questions.  They might be questions about specific information provided in the text, about order of events, about characters and settings and so on. But reading comprehension,  measured by Robert’s ability to complete such worksheets, did not improve.  We used old Specific Skills Series for reading comprehension from SRA, where every sub skill: finding main idea, details, making inferences, reconstructing order of events and so on,  was addressed separately through one of the little  workbooks.  This did not seem to help.  Or at least I did not see an improvement.

A year or so ago from one of the  parents’ lists I learned about the book The Power of Retelling by Vicki Benson and Carrice Cummins. Not much later, I became also familiar with   The Power of Stories by Carol J. Strong and Kelly Hoggan North. Sadly, I couldn’t fallow the procedures described in any of the two books  because of Robert’s learning profile and my shortcomings as a reading instructor.  Nonetheless, those two books forced me to rethink the way I (and the school) introduced reading to Robert.  I knew years ago, that one of the problem with reading comprehension Robert had was created by the fact that  he did not have any of those reference points that most of the five, six,or  seven years old have, when they start reading.  They recognize in texts  elements that are familiar  either  from their lives or  the stories they heard before.  The early reading mostly reshuffles familiar words, well-known phrases, or parts of their own simple experiences.  This, the  early reading comprehension depends on the child’s ability to utilize  language in finding familiar things in the text.  Only later, the reading is used to introduce new concepts. In the first phase, the  child finds it thrilling to discover variation of his/her language world in a story.

Robert did not have those reference points.  Maybe he had them, but I did not know the way to find them and use them.  The best I could do to help him understand the story  was to write synonyms above new words as we went on reading.


After reading the books I mentioned above, I realized the obvious. Each reading  should be well planned ahead.  Most of the new words should be introduced BEFORE reading, as Robert is not capable yet to deduce their meaning from the sentence.  Maybe one day he will, but not yet.  The story might be summarized before reading. The characters should be introduced and the relations between them clarified. The illustration should be talked about as a way to make prediction about what the story might be about.  A child’s experiences, if relevant, could be recalled.

This is what every good teacher does while teaching typical children.  I am not sure, however,  if any teacher did that with Robert.

I know that Robert’s participation in such preparations is limited  to a few singular words, very simple phrases, a few repetitions of what I have said.  Nonetheless, attention is crucial. When Robert enters the story, he has to discover familiar or, at least, predictable world that would not scare him away or make him feel alienated and lost.

In no way I try to undermine importance of retelling, of drawing story maps,or  filling graphing organizers.  They are important  part of understanding a story, assimilating it and adding it to  one’s life. All those techniques are used after reading.   Writing about them here, would make this long post even longer.

Unclear on Yes or No, Following Body Language

Robert’s speech therapist from his summer program noticed that Robert still has a lot of problems with answering “yes and no” questions. However, she also observed, that when” yes and no” questions are asked outside of the therapy sessions  in “natural” school environment, Robert makes fewer errors.

For the last few days, I have been practicing with Robert these questions using sets from Functional Language Workbook of Activities for Language and Cognition  by Leslie Bilik-Thompson and I have to confirm that Robert’s responses have been erratic.  He answers yes and no haphazardly, switches from one answer to another while simultaneously he is paying extremely close attention to the tiniest movements of the muscles on my face.  I know I do something to my face when I think about the proper response to  yes or no, and Robert can read that.  I don’t know how Robert can decipher and interpret  almost invisible tension of the muscles around my jaw, or around my eyes, but he he clearly decodes when they tell, “yes” and when they say, “NO.”  This uncanny skills demonstrates  itself mainly during our teaching sessions.  Robert wants to answer what I want to hear.  Even if the answer is in his head, he doesn’t bother to retrieve it from there.  He wants to find clues on my face.

I realized that a few years ago.  I thought I addressed this problem by camouflaging correct answer by thinking about the wrong one.  When the  answer was  “yes” I tried to think about “No” and Robert answered, “No”.  When I shifted my thinking from yes to no, Robert followed changing his responses from  “yes to no”.

The second observation made by the speech pathologist, that Robert makes less errors in “natural” settings , allowed me to  realize to what degree, “one to one” arrangement of a teaching environment  reinforced Robert’s ability  to read facial expressions and, sadly,  prevented him from relying on his brain. It is not a surprise that this problem  presents itself most evidently during exercises with “yes and no” questions.  It is not new, however.

In my old post Teaching as Dismantling, I described the first time I encountered this problem when Robert was 3 years old.  Based on unnoticeable to anybody else movements of my hands, he pointed correctly to twelve animals.  At that time he did not have any receptive language and he certainly did not know what toucans or walruses were. I understood that as long as Robert would base his answers on the wrong set of cues, he won’t learn reading appropriate cues.  I knew it then, and I know it now.

I tried to address that issue in many ways.  When the response to the question is a noun, a verb or a two or three words phrase, Robert makes less errors, as difficulties in reading my expressions prevent him from relying on them.  I learned to lower my head, cover my mouth, turned away.  But,  with “Yes and NO”  it is much harder.

I asked Robert to close his eyes while listening to the question and answering it, but his anxiety interfered with such a great idea and made it useless.  I tried to hide half of my face behind a book.  Robert became even more tense and tried to read my eyes.

If the “desk” teaching is not extended  to  “natural” settings, Robert won’t find a reason to consult his brain to help him find proper replies.  In one on one setting Robert’s the purpose in answering is not to find an answer which matches his prior knowledge of the world but to make his teacher happy.  And to make the teacher happy, Robert has to read the answers off his teacher’s face.

On Coffee, English Muffin, and Nature of Numbers

Saturday, July 20

Robert woke up a few minutes after me. His dad was still sleeping.  I was going to make our morning espresso but  decided to ask Robert to do it instead.   Although he has never made it before, he already knew more or less how to set it up; just the details were a little murky.  He put slightly too much coffee and thus had to clean the brim.  He did not put enough water, so he had to add more,  up to the white line.  He spilled a little and he did not tighten the top lid.   I helped him hold the cups to make frosted milk.  When coffee was ready, I asked him to tell dad.  He went to the bedroom, but did not say anything.  Maybe because he did not know what to say or how to say it or maybe he did not want to interrupt his father’s sleep.  Two hours later I asked Robert to make another espresso for us. He  set the espresso machine again, but he was not as happy as when he was doing it for the first time.  Maybe he already began to understand that what seemed excited and new might soon change into another boring obligation and he was not yet sure how he felt about it.

He made himself an English muffin for breakfast.  I reminded him to push  20 seconds on a microwave  to defrost the muffin and so he did.  Later,  he cut it in half,  toasted it, and ate it in a less than a minute.

A Few days ago, I gave him the same advice, but as I turned away to do something else, Robert entered 20 minutes instead of 20 seconds.  I stopped microwave after more than 2 minutes when the muffin was already boiling.

This is one of those (MY) errors which come from not understanding WHAT Robert knows and HOW he knows it.  I assumed that since he knows what 20 is, he would enter 20 seconds.  Instead he entered 20 minutes, as he is mostly using minutes to bake his potatoes.

A few times in the past, I demonstrated to Robert how to make his muffin, but he has never been fully independent. I should have been  watching Robert making his muffin for as long as he completes the whole process without an error.  I have never done that. Instead I assumed that a few incomplete demonstrations, and a general knowledge of what number 20 is, would suffice.  But, as Robert reminded me, in  real life number 20 doesn’t exist if it is not connected to real objects or units, and those might be as different as seconds are different from  minutes.

On Long Division and Unexpected Vindication

Robert’s teacher from his summer program, Mrs. B ,  did not realize what effect her words had on me when during our first phone conversation she stated that Robert’s math skills were  quite  good  and that he performed long division tasks very well.

I was stunned.  I needed to catch my breath and find appropriate words to answer.  The only thing that came to mind was to ask how Robert writes a reminder – as a whole number after letter R, or as a fraction.

Mrs. B. said, “Fraction.”

I caught my breath and we continued the conversation.

I was not surprised that Robert could do long division with only occasional errors.  He practiced that skill diligently for many  months.  We used Delta Section of  Math U See practice books  and I made many worksheets to help Robert place a dividend between two multiples of the divisor. I wrote about it in What About Reminder

What stunned me was the fact that Robert’s teacher noticed his skills and shared her positive observation with me. The teacher acted as if she found the ability to divide important.

For reasons I cannot understand or explain, my son’s educators from his regular program seemed  oblivious to those of Robert’s academic skills that were above the limits they placed on his abilities.  They neither could accept them, nor negate them, so they undermined their usefulness.   To do so, they used the concept of “functional skills”. For Robert, division was not a functional skill. Reading maps, learning calendar, understanding stories weren’t functional either.  Not for him.  He was too low functioning to be overburdened with such demands. Not once during IEP meetings, I was asked, “Why to waste time on teaching this advanced skill if he doesn’t have that basic skill?”  In many of the posts on this blog I dealt exactly with this question. For instance: “Why are you teaching him that? ”

I was always on defensive.   I defended my son’s right to know whatever he was capable of learning.

For my son’s regular school “Transition to adulthood”  meant that only functional academics should be taught. Since for school nothing Robert was learning with me at home was functional then nothing had  any value.

I got so used to that reaction  that when  Mrs. B  instead of asking, “Why did you teach Robert long division ?” expressed  appreciation of his math  skills, I felt stunned but then relieved and  unexpectedly… vindicated.

Stockholm Syndrome

Imagine respectable members of the town’s school committee and the highly regarded high school principal discussing the opening of a new classroom for students with special needs with a great name Forward. The  discussion is about how cheap it would be.  The rooms are already available, nothing new would be needed.  The tax deductible donations suffice to fill the space.  There won’t be much money for teachers, as the certified teachers are NOT envisioned.  Less pricy job coaches would do the trick. They would be transferred from high school to Forward.  No new hires!

Imagine, that this classroom opens in a building separated from the high school by more than a mile.  Imagine that the students won’t have an access to high school academic classes.  Imagine that those students won’t have an access to any new curricula materials, which nobody predicts purchasing.  Imagine that those students won’t have an access to any music, art, or sport programs offered to high school students.  Imagine that any of the students, even those with emotional and mental issues won’t have an access to school psychologist or counselor or guidance. Imagine that the closest nurse is in another school at least a  mile away.

All of that was fine with a principal and with reputable members of the school committee. None of them seemed concern with the access of special needs students  to academics,  music,  art,  a nurse, or a counselor.  The good principal of the high school towered above the members of the school committee and in a voice more appropriate for public announcements than carefully expressed proposition  kept assuring School Committee that it won’t cost much.

In this way a group of the most needy students was swept away from high school.

I know because I was there.  I came in support of opening of a new class. I knew that by law, the range of  students’ ages in one class shouldn’t exceed 4. So this class had to be created before the district was up for the state inspection.

I came to support an opening of a new classroom, but not to sweep children out of high school.  As I listened to the principal and committee members discussing the price tags, I became  sick to my stomach.  I did not believe what I was hearing or what I was not hearing.  Not one word of concern for the plight of the students or for how their dreams, ambitions, life skills, job skills, or academic skills might be affected.  Not ONE word.

For the next two years I kept hearing that the only academics in this program was reading (or listening to reading)  a morning newspaper and playing, always the same math, card game.

Three years later,  I consented to  transferring my son  from high school in the middle of the school year to this classroom which, for me, represented the travesty of education.  Why?

In his fourth year in high school, with a new teacher supported (as he told me twice over the phone) 100% by the principal my son was regressing quickly. Every week, I was called once or twice to school to pick him up.  Something strange was happening and nobody was  telling me anything.  My son was hitting himself with full force and screaming a lot.  After three good year, he was falling into abyss.  I did not know why.  I tried to learn but couldn’t. To prevent irreversible damage, I took him out of school.   I asked for  any other placement. ANY!   The  special ed director refused. I asked for permission to home school Robert. My application for homeschooling was rejected. I was told that if I attempted it, I would be sued for truancy. In those circumstances I not only  asked, I begged  to transfer my son to the Forward  Classroom the very program that, in my view,  was conceived with disregard for IDEA, and for Civil Rights.

When Robert was finally  transferred, I was relieved that my son escaped complete meltdown.  Even more, I WAS GRATEFUL. I was grateful to the principal, to the special education director, to all school committee members.  I even wrote a letter to express my immense gratitude.

I understand now, that I suffered from strange case of Stockholm Syndrome.  My son was kept hostage, so I was kept hostage, but the hostage  who also  had to play a role of a negotiator.  I did not realize that then.  I felt I won Robert’s freedom from cooperating partners not from his captors. It took me a while to realize that my son is still a prisoner, as am I. My syndrome couldn’t be more clear.

I express gratitude disproportional to the smallest gestures of teaching.  I  fight of my mood swings when I have to have contact with the school. I felt unable to even observe Robert’s classroom, as each observation confirms that my son is kept in the program that doesn’t address his basic educational needs.

I try to  heal myself by admitting my condition and diagnosing its causes. I find that the causes are related to that fatal day when the noble school committee members concerned themselves with the price of the new special education program but not with its quality and the effects  it would have on many of the children who would be forced to go there.

But isn’t that what everybody seems to be doing – discussing the price tag of special education but not its quality, appropriateness, and long lasting outcomes.

As of Today 7

July 16

Robert returned home excited.  He went on  a field trip with his friends and teachers from his summer program.  They visited Quincy Market in Boston.  What made me excited, however, was that Robert could answer two questions. “Where did you go on your field trip?”


“What did you ride to get to Boston?”


Given how difficult it is for Robert to answer the simplest questions about his own life, and specially about what has already happened, I found this responses both gratifying and surprising .
Unfortunately, he was still confused by a differently worded question, “How did you get there?”  He understands what “how” means but still doesn’t know how to answer questions that begin with “How?”  It is as if he needed a one word cue pointing him in a right direction.Sadly, I don’t know that word myself.

During our evening study hour,  Robert was replacing lowercase letters with capital ones in all  proper nouns.  It was easy, almost mechanical exercise for him.  At the end of the page, however, he faced a task of writing a short paragraph about visiting his favorite place.  I was sure he would choose New York City or Disneyland.  That was what I always suggested to him when he was not able to  make choice by himself.  As Robert hesitated, I mentioned  New York City. Robert responded with a shrewd grin and said “Boston”.  I was not sure, if he REALLY meant it and thus I asked, “So what is your favorite place?”


The answer was clear and the smile clearly indicated that Robert knew not only what he said, but also what impression that answer would make on me.  It was,  after all, his proclamation of independence from…me.   He quickly  and bravely wrote the first sentence, “My favorite place is Boston.”  Then he looked at me as if he was  lost.  Oh well, sudden independence would do that to everybody.  So I helped him to steer  his words toward South Station and Quincy Market.

As I am writing this post I realize that providing Robert with new experiences , experiences out of ordinary routines, might evoke in him a need to use language to share them with others. That need can  lead him to finding  words helping him describing his own life and sharing his experiences with others.

Irreplaceable Five More Minutes

 I don’t remember where I heard or read about this simple tool of easing transition from one activity to an other. I don’t even remember when I started using it or even when I noticed that it worked.  I believe it was the pre-ABA period but I am not sure.

It used to be that when we tried to wake up Robert in the morning, he reacted with anger and/or frustration.  He made angry noises or even kept hitting quickly his face.

Now, responding to  our first attempt of waking him up, Robert says, “Five more minutes.” We give him these five minutes.  A few minutes later, Robert might get up on his own (rarely), or he  gets up after hearing from one of us, the parents, that five minutes are up.

So much easier.

In the afternoon, Robert watches TV in the basement or movies on his IPAD.  I say, “In five more minutes we will study.”  Usually, I don’t even have to repeat that.  A few minutes later Robert sits at the table and examines worksheets prepared for that afternoon.

Of course it works other way around too.  When Robert asks for something he wants and I am busy, I respond with, “I will do that in five minutes.” And since I usually do, Robert accepts that response.

The hardest thing in teaching Robert to appropriate that tool, was to believe that Robert would understand it…. eventually.  At the beginning, he did not have a clue.  The words did not mean anything.  It did not help that at that time, Robert did not have any receptive labels.  Still, I kept telling him, “In five minutes the pool is all done”.  “In five minutes swing is all done.”   And after a few minutes, I took his hand, or picked him up, if necessary, and walked or drove home pretending that I did not pay attention to his protests or vehement protests.

But it was not until Robert understood that he also could use this tool, that this phrase  seemed to make the biggest difference.

A few years ago,  I entered Robert’s bedroom prepared for unpleasant protests in response to, “Robert get up, get ready for school.”

Sure enough, Robert made angry noises and began to  hit his ears in quick, short movements.  I could react the way I reacted previously by repeating in a stern, commanding voice, “Get up, get up. You will be late for the bus” and watch Robert continue screaming and hitting himself on the way to the bathroom.  I could, but instead I said, ” Robert, do you want to sleep a little longer?  ”

“Little longer” answered/repeated Robert and put his head on a pillow.

“Do you want to sleep five more minutes?”

“Five more  minutes.”  Repeated/answered Robert.

I don’t remember if that day I did not give him a couple extra five more minutes, but I do know that from that day on, Robert’s quality of life improved significantly as did mine.