Stumbling on the Road to Independence

September 8, 2015

One of Robert’s achievements I heralded on those pages was his ability to use men’s locker room while going to the swimming pool.  For many years we used family locker room so I could assist Robert when needed.  Later, he was using it alone, while I waited outside by the door. Still, I could enter any minute.  That was not the case with the men’s locker room.  It was Robert’s dad who assisted him there preparing him for doing everything independently. At some point, he kept leaving Robert by the door and waiting for him in the pool.  After the lesson, Robert met his dad in the waiting room upstairs.

So I dared to do the same. I left Robert at the door to the changing room and waited for him upstairs.  Well, not exactly.  The first time, I decided to wait outside the door afraid that Robert might look for me where he left me.  I was right.  Soon enough, Robert in his swimming pants opened the door on the side of the hall not the pool.  I directed him back, telling him to go to the pool. He went.

One time (as I wrote in another post) I made a mistake of telling him that he put his white T-shirt backwards and Robert attempted to change it in the middle of the waiting room. Luckily, he allowed me to convince him to do the same in the restroom.

One time, when he was not leaving the changing room for extended period of time, I asked Robert’s cousin who visited us during vacation to check on Robert. He told me that he found Robert half-naked, contemplating his clothes. A few words from the cousin sufficed to make Robert dress quickly.

And then there was that:

I waited for Robert upstairs in the waiting room. Somehow, I felt anxious.  I wasn’t sure what could happen, after all Robert never bothers other people.  He can take shower, he can dress, he can dry his hair.  Still, the anxiety forced me to go downstairs and wait by the doors to men’s locker room.  I felt pretty silly staying there, so I kept reading over and over the same ads on the bulletin board.  suddenly, I heard a very loud “No, no, no!!!!” Very loud.  Robert was protesting something.  Very loud! Such protests have the power of intimidating almost anybody.

Well, I opened the door to the small hallway (not to the locker room, which was behind the side wall) and called on Robert to come to me immediately. Robert didn’t come.  Instead a man with a little boy hurried to the door.  He seemed very confused.  He held glasses in his hand. He told me that the glasses were laying on the bench.  Robert picked the glasses and when he saw the man moving to the exit, he followed him to give him the glasses.  When the man tried to put the glasses back, Robert protested strongly, “No, no, no!!!”  At first I didn’t know what to do.  The man gave me the glasses and told me that nobody but Robert was in the locker room.  Still, I didn’t want to go in.  After the man left, I opened the door again and called on Robert.  This time, Robert came.  I told him to put glasses back on the bench.  Since Robert didn’t see anybody else to whom he could give the glasses, he complied with my request.

I know, I know.  Robert meant well. Since nobody was in the locker room, he assumed that the glasses belonged to the man and thus tried to force him to take them.  He didn’t understand that someone else who was not there could leave the glasses.  maybe that is one of the example of “Theory of mind.” Unfortunately, Robert puts so much energy in his vocal protests that one might be scared of him.  That is not something I take lightly.

I wonder, how many other unforeseeable problems will trip Robert over in the future.  How many?

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