Forcing Flexibility

February 11, 2017

Writing about Robert is like describing the ride on the rollercoaster.  Before you find  sentences depicting your slow mount to the top, you are already loosing your breath while sliding down  with the speed that in a fraction of a second destroys all of your previously strung phrases turning them back into their gelatin beginning.

Not much has changed since, almost a year ago (February 23, 2016), I wrote the above sentences.  There are calm times when Robert and I are learning.  Robert is reading, answering questions, completing worksheets, speaking, solving problems.  Slowly, with some difficulties we move from one concept to another.  But before I write in this blog describing some of the idiosyncrasies that affect Robert’s appropriation of the specific ideas, something else happens, and I have to use all my resolve to steer Robert and us (his family) out of the path sharply descending into unknown. It might be that Robert wants our guests to leave and demonstrates his wishes in a way that cannot be accepted.  It might be that Robert refuses to go to horse riding lesson with me but for hours keeps demanding that dad, who happens to be sick,  takes him there. It might be that Robert insists that his dad stops working in the garden and returns to the computer.  It would be so easy to give up.  It would be much easier to tell the guests to end the visit.  They would understand.  It is much harder to make Robert accept their presence. It would be easier for dad, even when sick to get up and drive Robert to the horse riding lesson, than to teach Robert to accept that sick parent cannot always do what Robert wants. It would be easier to do garden work when Robert is not at home than to make Robert tolerate dad’s yard work.

It  is  much easier doing everything the same way since for Robert any change provokes his strong and long resistance. And yet we have learned that we have to do everything to make sure that Robert accepts different solutions or outcomes.

Years ago, Robert had to learn that different roads might still lead home.  He wasn’t even three years old when we noticed that he always became agitated when on the way home, we took slight detour.  He noticed immediately that it was a wrong way and acted up – kicking, wiggling in his seat and making noises. It took a lot of road constructions and detours before he understood that different roads might lead to the same place. Ability to adjust to change enlarges one’s world and frees a person from the rigid bars of rituals.  Yes, Robert appears to feel safer when things remain the same. But, the things never remain the same forever.  The change is inevitable. Robert cannot escape it.  That is why we try to help Robert to adjust to the change or, sadly, show the consequences of not accepting it.

Those difficult moments often make me forget about calm hours of learning.  But we still learn.  Following old Reading Mastery V curriculum, we kept reading The Wizard of Oz. We solve problems – two pages a day from Singapore Math 4B . We build birdhouses or assemble 4 cylinder working toy engine.  And we regain our serenity.

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