Keeping Records

May 7, 2016

For almost two years now, every evening, Robert has been approaching  me saying, “Notebook, notebook.”  I have followed him to the dining room table.  There, Robert takes his special pen and writes down what he ate, where he went, or what he did.  Some sentences come to him easily. Some sentences need my prompting – sometimes one word, often more than one.

Of course, Robert had been writing in his notebook for years.  The difference, the last two years made, is that now he is the one who initiates that part of our evening routine.  Every day! That change came with Robert’s participation in his Day Program.  He  finds it important, if not enjoyable, to share with his instructors and peers the events taking place in his life.  He cannot talk freely, the words don’t come when he needs them, so he shares by writing.  It is easier.

In the last month, I noticed another behavior which I couldn’t understand at first.  After Robert wrote down what he ate, what he did, or where he went, he  was still not ready to close his notebook.  He wanted to write more.  He was holding his pen moving it above the notebook pages  showing me that there was something else to be noted.  Except, I didn’t know what.

One evening, Robert came home late after going with Pam to the restaurant and bowling alley. It was too late for us to  study together.  We only had time for a short note in Robert’s Notebook to record his outings with Pam.  Robert, however, did something surprising.  He began searching among workbooks and papers until he found  a few worksheets.  He placed them on a table in front of his chair and sat down to complete them with (well still) my help.  It was late.  Moreover, two of the worksheets presented problems which I considered two difficult for Robert.  Robert was supposed to find the time of the flight through different time zones. At that time we still worked on understanding time zones by comparing the time in different zones.  We also counted elapsed time.  Both skills were relatively new and not  mastered yet.  Still, Robert insisted.  Step after step, we came to the solution. I am not sure he grasped it.  When, however, I was telling Robert that the problems were really, really difficult, he smiled.  Smiled.  He wanted to do difficult problems!

Since the other few worksheets were rather simple, Robert finished them quickly with my minimal assistance and only then he reached for…. Notebook. That is when I finally understood.

Robert wanted to write not only about his food, daily chores, or places.  He wanted to  note much more meaningful activity – his LEARNING.

Even more, he wanted to write about solving difficult problems!  That is why he smiled!

If he wanted to write about how hard he studied it was because someone else was admiring Robert’s determination to study and the skills he kept acquiring and honing.   I called the only place when that could happen – his Day Program, Lifeworks.  I confirmed what I suspected. For  every evening filled with learning and writing in a notebook there was a morning, when Robert’s case manager, Nicole read with him his notes from home. She praised Robert for hard work and sometimes admired the fact that Robert studied difficult topics.  That is why Robert wanted to solve difficult problems.  He wanted to be admired.

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2 Comments

  1. Jean Palmateer

     /  May 15, 2016

    We all respond to encouragement, and can tell when others support us.

    Reply
  2. I hope there are lots of places which respond to Robert’s learning and admire it.

    Reply

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