Vicious Circle

October 9, 2017

It happens over and over.  Robert grows and learns.  But neither his increased understanding nor acquired knowledge  prevents him from falling in one of the similarly set traps .

The design is almost identical.  Robert enters a new program.  His teachers or program coordinators shower him with attention. Then a few weeks, a few months, or a couple of years later the attention is withdrawn. The structure of the program changes, the teachers change, his peers change.  Robert reacts with increased anxiety to the environment that left him in the cold.   The anxiety leads to more behavioral outbursts and that to even stronger rejections.  Those rejections however, are often presented as ways of dealing with his behavior not as emotional distance.  He feels farther and farther from everybody.  He feels something is different.  But he is unable to clearly grasp the factors of changing dynamics. He becomes even more anxious. Small things, f cause him to scream.  He grows frustrated, and even more anxious. He has to leave the program.

It has never been the case that the Robert’s teachers were able to stop this wheel from leading to the ravine.

Robert was 3 years old.  He was accepted with open arms in a preschool program.  For 3 weeks the main teacher showered him with attention.  After three weeks another boy entered the program, and the teacher directed her efforts to accommodate this new student.  Trying to regain his position, Robert followed the teacher everywhere, sometimes (I was told) dropping on the floor just in front of her. Of course, she was irritated.  After all, he precluded her from fulfilling her obligations toward other students.

The shameful thing is that nobody, including me, was at least concern with what that did to Robert. What he felt.

When Robert was 12 years old he entered a collaborative program.  Again, he was welcomed with open arms. There were only 4 students in the program and a teacher and three teachers aides. They needed more students for a very survival of the class. It seemed to go well. But the following year, three new students arrived and three of the experienced aides left. The classroom was placed in a new town.  Everything changed.  Most of all the atmosphere changed.  The previous year as I was walking toward the school, the aides always approached us.  They asked Robert to walk with them, so I could leave.  The following year, the aides never, not even once, approached us as we walked toward the school.  They scurried away, as if afraid that we could approach them and walk those 30 yards together.

I knew then, that there was something very wrong. Robert knew that as well.  He was much more anxious.  His OCD forced him to go every day to school, but as he was approaching the building his steps got heavier and slower.

When Robert was 14 years old, he entered public school program.  No, at first, he was not welcomed there by administrators, but he was welcomed by his aide, Mrs. Scott. Her attitude toward Robert was contagious and   soon he was sincerely accepted .  Then three years later a new teacher came.  Everything changed for Robert with that one person. Her aggression toward Robert’s aide, Mrs. Scott, was not lost on Robert.  He felt it, he felt changing atmosphere in the whole class.  He reacted with confusion, then anxiety. Then came screams, then more insecurity and confusion.  I kept being called to school over and over.  I felt Robert was falling apart.  I took him out.

In 2014, Robert entered an adult program with vocational component. He slowly kept adjusting.  He loved it.  But the good politicians who want to replace good with better, specially if the better is cheaper, ordered all sheltered workshop to cease.  So every day, something was changing in Robert’s program.  His most capable peers kept disappearing as they were introduced to jobs in the community.  The furniture kept disappearing, the work was gone.  As the one of he most difficult to be placed, he was left in the sheltered workshop longest.  He reacted with anxiety.  He was anxious during any outside trip, afraid that during his absence, other changes would happen. The ground was moving from under his feet.  The people were changing also.  The one who paid the most attention to him at the beginning were gone. They found better paid jobs.  Others got different assignments. He wasn’t sure to whom to turn for directions and well, for comfort.

He still doesn’t know.

Here we are now.  We are both older and both drifting without directions. We are both anxious and we both worry. 


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