Tangible Argument

March 22, 2019

The last few weeks were pretty calm. Robert has NOT been hitting his face and ha has been NOT screaming. I don’t know why he stopped but I didn’t know why he was doing that in the first place. I am still not sure if there was an underlying medical condition which resulted in severe pain  or if he was “just” angry about something. It is possible that an underlying medical condition , like itching from his eczema made him more irritable and impatient. The fact that he couldn’t reveal the reason for his distress made his anguish even more severe.

Because I don’t know the reasons, I am still afraid that the nightmare (because that was a nightmare) of his anguish might return unexpectedly.

Still, we all enjoyed those few peaceful weeks.

The drawer

A few days ago, as Robert was putting away laundry, I heard a sad cooing coming from his room. I peaked in and saw Robert sitting on the floor and trying to do two things: place all of his shirts in a drawer and simultaneously reattach its falling bottom. It was a daunting task. There were too many shirts and the drawer was too old to withstand their pressure.  Confronted with the impossibility of solving this conundrum, Robert responded with gentle, nonetheless, heartrending cooing.

So I said, what I had been saying before many times.  “Robert, there are too many shirts.  We have to put summer shirts with short sleeves in the box in the closet. ” I took one such shirt and placed it in the box.  I prepared myself for a strong resistance expecting Robert to take the shirt back.  After all that was what he did many times in the past. He wanted to keep all his shirts together no matter what was the season of the year and no matter how how full the drawer was .He managed to always put this shirts back even when I hid them from him.  But not this time.  He didn’t remove the shirt from the box but to the contrary he kept taking out one shirt after another and kept passing to me all short sleeved ones.  He returned the long-sleeved shirts back to the drawer.  Then he put the bottom of the drawer back in its grooves. Finally, he closed the drawer .

It was a small thing but  it left me speechless. So many times I tried to achieve the same results and failed every time.  But then I used only words to convince Robert.  This time the drawer presented Robert with a strong, tangible argument and he got it.

The Mystery of the Disappearing T-shirt

March 17, 2019

I don’t know how many  white, short-sleeved T-shirt Robert has and how many his father does. I know that Robert has plenty, When all of them are clean, it is very hard to close the drawer were they are kept. I know also that Robert’s dad wears crew neck style T-shirts while Robert prefers v-neck ones. Robert knows that too and properly places one kind in the chest in his bedroom and the other kind in his dad’s dresser.

Last Friday, however, the peaceful activity of folding laundry was interrupted by Robert’s sudden agitation. “White shirt, white shirt”, he kept repeating as he was checking drawers in both bedrooms. “White shirt, white shirt”  He repeated louder as he went to the hamper with dirty clothes and examined them too.  He didn’t find what he was looking for. He rechecked the dryer from which he had took laundry just few minutes before.  Nothing. There was one more place when the shirt or what might be left of the shirt could be.  In the bathroom under the sink where we keep torn articles of garment to use them later for cleaning. Robert doesn’t mind that old clothes can be recycled in this way.  He also accepts the fact that clothes he overgrew can be donated, as long as he donates them himself.  What he doesn’t accept is that clothes disappear. He became more and more anxious and loud.  Hoping to distract him, Jan decided to take Robert to the store.  Well, that didn’t work as Robert couldn’t forget about the white T-shirt that wasn’t  anymore. So in a store and in a car, Robert’s despair only grew. “white shirt, white shirt, white shirt, white shirt…..”

Upon returning home, he resumed his search.  He looked under the bed covers in both bedrooms and under the pillow,  He rechecked the old places. Only then, I suggested that the shirt might be hidden in the back of a new laundry machine. Robert ran to check that possibility.  Since he also stopped repeating “White shirt, white shirt” , I concluded that he found what he looked for. I don’t know if that was crew neck T-Shirt of V-Shaped T-shirt. I was glad that Robert solved the m ystery of the disappearing shirt and relaxed. However, another mystery keeps bothering me.  How did he know that one of those identical (at least identical for me)  shirts was missing.  No, he didn’t count them.  He was checking each shirt separately, unfolding it, spreading in front of his eyes and examining carefully.  He not only knew that one shirt was missing, he knew exactly WHICH shirt that was.

For the Record 11

March 3, 2019

Another week on an emotional roller coaster.

Robert was in such a distress  previous Saturday and Sunday that I took him to see his doctor on Monday. He was hitting his face with the ends of his fingers to the point he cut through the skin, even though we cut his nails. Surprisingly, Robert waited very patiently in the waiting room for almost 30 minutes.  But a few times when doctor was talking to me, or him , he started again hitting his face.  He had a very bad day in his program on Tuesday, as he didn’t want to eat his lunch asking instead for McDonald’s.  At home he was fine, studied with me then he watched Netflix on his IPAD. Suddenly he got up and started screaming and hitting his face again. The lesions on his face got covered with blood.  I didn’t know what to do.  Should I call 911, because something was terribly wrong.  I knew, he wouldn’t go to urgent care with me. Should I call an ambulance?   But if he would act like that in the hospital, he would be restrained and the effects of restraining could be horrid. I didn’t even try to hold his face in my hands to prevent him from striking himself, because as he did in the past he would walk backwards to free himself from my hug and hit himself even more. So, I did the only thing I could do.  I turned away, pretended not to see it, and did nothing.

Few seconds later,  he calmed down. As if something inside him was turned off. He became calm and happy.  In his program and at home.  The only incident happened today, when he was told to ride a larger horse than he usually does.  He did some screaming before getting on the horse, but he was fine as soon as he started riding.

I don’t know why he was calm and relatively happy the last five days, just like I don’t know why he was in such discomfort – either physical or emotional – before.

I just don’t know.

On Friday, we went to the bank to deposit his check.  Later we baked cookies together. On Saturday, he went to the swimming pool with his dad.  Later they ate lunch in Applebee’s. It was his 27th birthday after all.

Yesterday, we finished reading rather  It Does Matter from Carter High Chronicle series.  Today, after we studied for an hour,  but before riding in his notebook, Robert said, “Read, read” , went to shelf and pulled out another book. This time it was from Usborne Reading Programme  Twelfth Night.  

March 8, 2019

We had a very pleasant Friday.  Yesterday, we wrote the schedule for today.  Studying, cleaning bathrooms, shopping, baking cookies and a trip to Science Museum. Well, we didn’t clean bathrooms, as I needed to make time-consuming calls to insurance company.

As for study:  pronunciation – today words beginning with “Z” sound;  finding the value of a simple  algebraic expression for a given number; reading about trip to movie theater from  Functional Routines and about acne from Autism and PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons. Robert completed first part of the Moving West History Packets. He read, answered questions and  pictures.  We talked about time line that he had completed last week. He solved Sudoku with little help from me. He is able to enter a few numbers at a time without my help and he seems to enjoy it.

Store: we went mainly to buy chocolate chips for the cookies we planned to bake.  However, we bought many other things including parsley, scallion and dill.  At the self register, Robert first scanned all the items that had a bar code while I was packing them. When he picked parsley, he hesitated.  I showed him the number and he entered it. He found by himself numbers on scallion and on dill.  It was much harder for him to look for cabbage on the screen not because of his difficulties with alphabet, but because of lack of familiarity with this vegetable.

He paid using his ATM card.

Baking.  He assemble all the items.  He needed prompt to turn on the oven and do all the necessary steps.  But he did them with the exception of placing the dough on the  baking pan. well, the dough was very sticky and didn’t want to drop from the spoon.

Museum. We arrived later than I anticipated because of traffic hour.  However, there was enough time to buy fries and two pieces of chicken fingers and eat them.  I was s lightly tense afraid that Robert would start telling me what he wants during the movie, but he was very quiet.  It helped that the movie Cuba was entertaining – with ballet, beautiful building, music and coral reefs.

Robert’s dad, Jan, met us after the movie and we drove home together.  Except, Robert kept saying, “Car, car, car”.  Only then we realized that Jan left the car at the train station on his way to work.  We explained to Robert what had happened and  drove to the station to retrieve Jan’s car.