Words That Make the Difference

June 25, 2015

Last Friday, June 19, Robert got a reward from his Day program. Sarah, his case manager/friend presented the reward. She read a beautiful text about Robert accentuating his efforts  and his accomplishments.

“The following individual has done an outstanding job within the Life Enhancement Program this past year. This individual has become an asset to his community; volunteering at both the Dedham Food Pantry and various Meals on Wheels routes. Over the past year this individual has pushed himself to achieve more, often trying every piece of cardio and weight lifting equipment offered at both the Vanderbilt and YMCA gyms. He has broadened his education and social horizons by engaging in a wide variety of community trips he wouldn’t have otherwise done even just a year ago. This individual has achieved everything Life Enhancement encourages its individuals to strive for; going outside of your comfort zone and being open-minded to trying new things. I couldn’t be happier to be acknowledging this individual here tonight. For the 2015 Life Enhancement Achievement Award, Robert Hrabowski.

I know that Robert’s success could have been achieved only because the instructors and job coaches surrounded Robert with not just good programing but full emotional support. They LIKE HIM and He KNOWS THAT.

Such a difference. Almost three years ago, a teacher who just started working in Robert’s classroom told me two things:

1.  That he had never worked with a student as difficult as Robert.

2. That it is better for him (the teacher) to look at the wall when he talks to Robert because then he doesn’t get angry when Robert doesn’t reciprocate his gaze.

There are many things wrong with those statements.

1. The teacher should vent his frustration with his colleagues or supervisors, but not the parent.

2. He demonstrated that he had neither knowledge nor experience of working with students with  profiles similar to those of my son and left me wondering what and how he would be able to teach my son or even tolerate him in his classroom.

3.He made it all about himself, not about Robert.  There was no effort to understand my son’s perspective.  He concentrated on his own issues.

Sarah’s speech, on the other hand, was centered on Robert.  In the most poignant part of the speech she acknowledged Robert’s efforts to venture outside his comfort zone. In a short sentence she was able to present  things from Robert’s perspective.

I am sure that Robert’s instructors and job coaches had to put a lot of efforts in leading Robert through all the new activities and jobs.  They had to work as hard or harder than his last teacher. The difference between  their approach to Robert and that of the last teacher was caused by attitudes and the perspectives from which they look at and communicated with  Robert.

This text needs more work.





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