For the Record 8

November 26, 2018

On Screaming

There was much less screaming in the last two weeks.  At least less screaming at home.

1. A few days ago, Robert began emptying dishwasher before the cycle ended.  I told him not to do so and Robert started screaming.  He was confused and upset. He wanted to help but instead was told that he did something wrong. He must have hated that. He expressed his confusion quite loudly.  When he calmed down, he didn’t continue taking dishes out, but instead stood silently in the kitchen.  After a while, he said softly “dishes”. “OK Robert,  you can put dishes away.” I decided that I would rinse dishes before using them.  It was late and I was not in a mood to teach-explain- struggle.  That is why I told Robert to put dishes away.  But at that moment, he wasn’t really sure what to do as he asked again, “Dishes” and I responded the same way.  He asked two more times before he removed cups and plates from the dishwasher.

2.  Robert waited for his lesson at the barn.  The cold, wet wind was passing through the corridor.  I asked Robert to move a few steps to escape the draft. He didn’t move.  Instead he patted/slapped his cheeks and he screamed.  Maybe for him my suggestion meant that the lesson was not going to happen.  Maybe he felt neglected.  Maybe he felt confused.  In the barn it was the instructor who should give him directions not his mother.  I don’t know why he screamed.  However, later that day, he threw up in the bathroom.  so maybe he was not feeling well.  Again, I don’t know.

3. Today, as he was undressing himself to take a bath, he  produced two sharp and long screams.  I don’t know why.  Maybe something hurt him.  Maybe he waited for one of us to turn on the water, although that is something he usually initiates. We  get inside the bathroom when we hear the water running.  Then we check the temperature and adjust it if necessary.  today, I turned on the water and that somehow calmed Robert.

On Visiting Relatives and Guests.

Grandma came for two weeks visit.  The uncle only stayed one night.  Robert didn’t tell grandma, “New York, New York” as he used to do during previous visits.  “New York, New York”  meant that grandma should go back to New York City. The fact that Robert refrained himself from repeating those words was a sign that he got used to grandma’s visit.  It is also possible that grandma bribed Robert by inviting the whole family to Outback restaurant. Whatever the reason, the visit became much more pleasant for everybody.

Not so for Robert’s uncle.  On the first day of the visit, he heard, “House, house, house” quite often.  Robert wanted his uncle to return to his HOUSE instead of staying in our HOME. Still, Robert expressed his demands with much less intensity than he did it during previous visits.  The second day, he accepted uncle wholeheartedly.

Robert tolerated a few guests during Thanksgiving dinner.  Not even once he told anybody, “House, house”.


We Are Still Learning

But nothing very challenging.  Easy, simple, short.

A page from Autism and PDD Adolescent Social skills Lessons.  Interacting.  Today, Modesty and Looking Neat

A page from Functional Routines Work.  Today, Housekeeper Hotel Bedroom

One Easy Sudoku

One simple writing exercise.  Today, writing a friendly letter

Two pages of math – mostly reviews, Today, adding and subtracting fractions.

A page from Weber’s book. Today, words ending in “L”

One chapter of a 2-4 grade book. Today, Usborne Reading Programme A Story of Ships.




He Voted

November 13, 2018

A couple of years ago, Robert accompanied me to my pooling place.  He didn’t vote.  He was not a registered voter at that time. I dragged him along for learning purposes.  The visit would not help him understand what election is.  The purpose of that visit was to create images related to words “Ballot”, “Candidate”, “pooling place” and to observe the steps each voter had to take to fulfill his or her civil obligation.

My efforts to teach Robert  the idea of selecting a better person for specific responsibilities related to either activity or position were not successful. With Robert narrow social circle there was nobody to choose from.  Yes, we read about three branches of government.  We read about elected positions.  I tried to explain to Robert that people chosen to be his representative might do something that would either benefit him or not.  I tried.  But I wasn’t sure Robert was ready to vote in 2016 election. so, he didn’t vote.

I am not sure he was much more attuned to the idea of electing his representatives even this year.  Nonetheless, we continued to read about elections, practice vocabulary, and learn a few names of people who were candidates with election on our minds.

I helped Robert to become registered voter.  We voted in primary and we voted on November 6.

Robert was extremely serious. He took the ballot, followed me to a booth,  and without one word between us, he… copied all my choices.

No, I didn’t feel bad about that. Robert didn’t vote the way Trump directed his supporters to vote.  No, Robert didn’t attend any of Trump crowded, loud rallies. He would hate them. No, he didn’t vote like Trump’s base did.  However, he didn’t vote the way I told him to.  I didn’t tell him anything.  He decided on his own to vote the same way I did because he trusted my judgement.

And in doing that, he showed more maturity and wisdom then  you know who.


For the Record 7

November 12, 2018

I had to pick Robert from his program before 11 AM.  I heard he was sleepy. He was asking for the bus, so it was assumed that he wanted to go home. When asked if he felt good,  he answered , “No”. He was pacing.  Of course, I am not sure really what was the cause. He could ask for a bus because something out of ordinary happened in his van today.  There was a different driver.  Moreover, other passengers ordered Robert to sit in a different place. They always do that when there is a new driver. They order him around. He listened but maybe he wasn’t happy about that,  So, when he was saying, “Bus” it might be that he wanted to share that information but didn’t have verbal tools to express himself.  That might be why he was pacing.  That might be why he said, he wasn’t feeling good. Of course there is also his sleepiness and that is harder to explain.  Because he slept well at home.  Maybe he didn’t sleep but was just enough quiet not to wake up anybody.  I don’t know.

I am saddened by this experience, because whatever happened Robert couldn’t express himself and nobody was able to understand him.  Not that I can either.  I picked him around 11.  I was at least relived that he was calm. He doesn’t like to leave in the middle of the day. But today  he was fine.  Although, he ate his lunch already, he still wanted to eat an eggplant which he planned for dinner. Since he insisted, I asked him to help cooking. And he did.  I peeled and sliced the aubergine and Robert  seasoned it with salt and pepper, sprinkled with flour, dipped in the egg and breadcrumbs, and fried in the oil. He ate and watched Netflix.

Later he went with me to Stop and Shop.  Two different man who suddenly appeared in front of him seemed to startled him and for 10 second he froze then he hit his face a few times, made some sounds. After we passed one of those men, he calmed down and continued shopping.  From that point on everything was uneventful.  Yes, we had to wait at the self register as one shopper had  problem with payments and needed assistance, but Robert didn’t mind.  He didn’t ask for potato chips, as I told him before entering the store that we are not going to buy them.  At home, he unpacked everything and put all the groceries away. I let him do that, but from the living room I heard one short expression of frustration.  I didn’t run to check what was the reason.

Later we were folding laundry together.  Robert patiently kept folding white T-shirt. He didn’t mind that I corrected him a few times.

As always, we studied together for an hour and a half.  I prepared pages for Robert to copy, trying to improve the size of some of his letters.  Over last couple years, they became tiny and hard to decipher. Robert finished reading book about Olympics, worked on ratios, and with my diminishing assistance solved Sudoku.

It was a good day at home. Robert had an opportunity to practice skills I used to teach him – cooking, folding laundry, using self register.  It was over all good day, and yet those few moments of his frustration, his psychological or physiological discomfort he cannot explain left me concerned and worried.

Improving the World One Pen at a Time

November 6, 2018

To complete Robert’s  registration for an appointment with a  physical therapist, I signed my name on a small black screen and put the rectangular pen next to it. Robert immediately picked the pen and placed it carefully in its appropriately shaped black casing attached to the counter. Then, he looked at the next window and noticed another pencil  haphazardly disposed on the surface.  He rushed in and again, put it in the casing.  Then he repeated the same action in another unoccupied window.

A few days later, in the lobby of our local bank, Robert continued his mission to attach each idling pen to its proper resting place. By the time, I reached the teller’s window, Robert managed to correct the world three times.  There was the fourth pen, but it was still being used.

Every place we are going, Robert tries to improve his surrounding by many tiny corrections. Today, as he was leaving the barn after horseback lesson, he closed completely two slightly open drawers, and ajar doors to two bathrooms. Just before leaving, he noticed a small helmet left in the barn and placed it on the shelf by the exit.  He did a few other things, but so quickly one after the other, that I was not able even to register them in my memory.

Our trips to supermarkets are enriched by Robert’s effort to straighten and line up all the items in front of shelves. When he needs to purchase a can or a box of food, he chooses to take the one from behind so  the frontal display remains undisturbed.

A couple month ago, when Robert was leaving his neurologist’ s office,  Robert, without one word notice, turned upside down the mat under the computer mouse while the physician was still working on this gadget.  I am not sure if the doctor was more surprised that Robert moved the mat without asking for permission or that he noticed that it was, in fact, upside down.

Years ago, Robert became anxious during dental procedure not because he couldn’t tolerate discomfort, but because the cabinet doors were opened. So he got up, shut the door, and much calmer he relaxed on a chair letting the dentist continue with filling.

It used to be that Robert paid similar attention to the misplaced things at home.  Not any more.  In McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s, Robert will pick all kind of litter from the floor or other tables, but two pieces of the white paper I left on the hallway floor yesterday, are still there, waiting for me to pick them up.

No surprise there. Robert feels responsible for the whole outside world, but home, home is mother’s responsibility.