On Sudoku and Screams

July 18, 2018

For more than 2 months I have been silent. There were times I wanted to write about Robert learning to solve Sudoku. I wanted to record his struggles with understanding, in the context of that game, what “vertical” and “horizontal” lines are. I thought about recording the changes in his attitudes toward the puzzle from resistance to sly smiles when, after smoothly placing the last few numbers, he completed the task.

I considered writing about how I approached the problem.  I analyzed the puzzle and chose the number that was easiest to place. After feeling a few spaces with that number, we took a break by doing something else.

When I asked Robert to find what number was missing in either horizontal line or a vertical one, I covered the rest of the puzzle with two papers.  This way Robert couldn’t step off the track.”Only up and down”, I kept telling Robert.  “Only left and right ” I kept repeating. “No stepping off the ladder, no stepping off the path.”

I didn’t have to help him finding missing numbers in squares, as that he figured by himself.

Still, he became frustrated easily. So, I printed a few 6 by 6 Sudoku.  He solved them quickly with either minimal help or without help at all  and he seemed ready for the next challenge. So we went back to 9 by 9. Every day, we solved one Sudoku.

As of now, I still prompt him by suggesting what number to look for first or turning his attention to the fact that one number is missing in the column, row, or a square.  Yes, I didn’t take off the scaffolding yet, but I am happy to notice that he is using less and less of my support and maybe one day he would fight boredom with the new skill.

I wanted to write about this process. However, my wish to record that was blown off by sudden, unpredictable, unexplainable, sharp screams often accompanied by self-injurious behavior – slapping quickly his own cheeks.  Those screams cut through all the sentences, and all the thoughts that were just forming and replaced them with the confusion, powerlessness, dread and the need to find the cause. Instead of writing I kept calling physicians to find the culprit. I am still doing that…

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