For the Record 12

April 19, 2019

I am almost afraid to admit that, but during the last few months, Robert became much calmer and happier.  I am afraid, because I still remember recurring periods of time of Robert being in distress. His screaming, his hitting his own face. I am afraid because  I still don’t know why that was happening and I don’t know why now, he seems so different with screaming and hitting his face gone.  Gone are red spots on his face where series after series of quick seemingly light patting broke the skin.  But my memory of those moments remains and I am still concerned.

With the arrival of spring, our trips to Sunapee Mountain were replaced by equally long excursions to Wellfleet Wildlife Sanctuary on Cape Cod. The mysterious recurrence of high and low tides was not lost on Robert.  Walking silently with his father, he contemplated the vast area of either water covering wavy grasses of the marshes or equally wide extent of the suddenly bare bottom of the bay.

Besides that change his weekly activities remain the same swimming, horse back riding, trips with Tim to Five Guys for hamburger dinner, and everyday study with me.

Each day this week our work included:

1. Unit from No-Glamour Sentence Structure. It is the fourth or fifth time we used this book as we return to it every year or two.

2.A page from Comprehending”Conditional Directions” that Begin with “IF”. In the past I used a simplified drawing of two columns with “yes” and “no” as their headings.  I cut each sentence in two parts and ask Robert to place the part starting with “IF” in one of the columns.  Placing in “YES” required Robert to put in the same column the second part.  Placing in “NO’ demanded that Robert throws the second part to the waste basket and do nothing. This time around I stopped after reading the first part of the sentence and wait for Robert to say, “yes” or “no” and either follow the direction expressed in the second part or do not.  We still have a lot of problems with this approach so I need to evaluate it and possibly change it.

3. Two pages from Maps, Charts, Graphs & Diagrams. This gives Robert an opportunity to review topics he has learned before either through five levels of Daily Geography Practice,  or by making or reading bar, line, and circle graphs as they were introduced in many math curricula.  As for diagrams, Robert became familiar with them by learning science topics such as body systems, layers of rain forest or solar system.

4. A page from Say and Glue for Language and Listening. However, we are using it for independent work.  Robert did something similar years ago, but I had to assist him if not by giving clues, then by just sitting next to him. Now, I leave him alone with the task.

5. A page from Work booklet of Functional Routines. But this time we go through intermediate level as we went through basic one a few month ago.

6. Practice of  pronunciation  with a page from Weber Giant Book and (this is new)  with  cards from Syllable Drilling. I read a few cards an ask Robert to repeat and then Robert reads a few cards by dividing into syllables and I repeat after him.

7. A chapter from one of the books from Usborne Young Reading. Currently we are on chapter 4th of The Story of Flying.

We continue to shop with Robert doing all cashier work at self-serve cash register. Robert continues to do laundry independently, although sometimes, when one sock is left out of the pile, he turns the washing machine again, just for this one sock.  He does vacuum rug in the living room, bt is not very eager to do so.

Oh well,.

 

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Bittersweet Skiing

March 26 – April 9, 2019

I remember Robert, not even three years old at that time, wearing a new, still shining winter suit, standing on the brand new skis, and holding to the tree a few feet from the parking lot and a couple of feet above it.   Jan placed him there and hoped that Robert wouldn’t dare to move  during those few minutes Jan needed to attach skis to Amanda’s boots.  Robert shouldn’t dare to move, as it was the first time he was going skiing. The very first time he was standing in skis on the snow. He shouldn’t.  But he did dare. He went down to another tree and then to another.

I remember Robert wiggling under Jan’s arm as they waited for the ski lift up the Blue Hill Mountain.  I could still hear his loud protests from the distance of 50 or 100 feet.  But as I trudged through the snow to persuade Jan to give up on teaching Robert skiing, they  were already moving up with Robert still expressing his displeasure.

But then, he was hooked. The very next time, he waited silently in line to the lift and moved his little legs eagerly following the skier in front of him.

I remember how easy it was to recognize Jan and Robert going down the Nashoba mountain.  They looked like upside down letter Y with Robert’s head glued to Jan’s leg while Robert’s skis were a feet away from Jan’s.

I remember Robert’s waist  tied to a red leash held  by his father as he moved down the Wachusetts Mountain.   Robert liked being first and going straight down. Faster and faster.

It has to be said that Jan had never given Robert any instruction, They just skied together. It also need to be said, that I don’t remember Robert ever falling, although I was told that it did happen once.

During those early years, Robert was not afraid to go fast with his skies parallel to each other. The slopes were not too steep and the distances were shorter. Robert didn’t feel any need to listen to anybody. Yet somehow he mustered instinctively, I believe, the skill of stopping abruptly.  I remember him going down toward me and the wooden fence behind me.  I was terrified that he would hit himself.  I spread my arms wide attempting to catch him, but a few steps from me, Robert made 180 degree turn and stopped.

The first time Robert was ready to accept skiing instruction was when Jan, Amanda, and Robert ventured by mistake on the steep slope on Cannon Mountain. Robert spread his skis widely and waited to be rescued or given a manageable  advice. Then slowly in wide wedge position he moved down to where his father and sister were waiting.  In this position he skied all the way to the bottom.

Sadly, from that point on, he decided that this is the only way to go.

Robert, Jan and Amanda skied on Snow  and Killington Mountain in Vermont, on Cannon Mountain, Loon Mountain and in Water Valley in New Hampshire.  But most often Robert skied on Sunapee Mountain with NESHA instructors.

This year he skied with them 13 full days.  He followed them turning left and right, bouncing up and down on all ski terrain.  He smiled and smiled and smiled and smiled….

He followed Eric, Deirdre, Kathy and Kate.  He listened to Barbara and Bill.  He was turning from one NEHSA volunteer to another as they attempted to work on reducing the wedge and become more attentive and flexible.  During this 13 times he skied with more than 20 volunteer instructors. And Jan followed them.  Often,  he couldn’t keep up, he was more and more behind.

Sometimes the instructors specially made Robert turn from one instructor to another on the opposite side of the trail to give Jan time to catch up.

Once, Jan was so far behind that, after waiting for a while, Robert and his instructors went on the lift without him.  Jan was a little sad but also extremely proud of Robert and …himself.

 

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.

 

 

My Not Everyday Joys

February 22, 2019

Goggles

The weather was cold and windy. The ski instructor gave Robert goggles to protect his eyes. Robert hesitated but then he put them on.  He has never done that before.  His instructors and we, his parents, tried to persuade him many times to wear goggles, but Robert presented strong resistance. Now, he put them on after a few seconds of hesitation.  It was surprisingly easy to convince him to wear the goggles. He probably deduced that since he forgot his regular glasses, it was only natural that he should wear goggles as a replacement.  The fact, that since that day, he purposefully kept his glasses home while going skiing supports this implication.

Doggie Bag

Robert always protested taking any left over food from the restaurant. When we suggested that he didn’t have to finish his dish since he was obviously full, he responded by eating even faster and placing large pieces of his food in his mouth. Not that he WANTED to eat more, but he COULDN’T leave anything on a plate.  Moreover, he protested whenever either his father or I wanted to take our food home.  We developed a system of avoiding Robert’s loud, vehement protests.  Robert and his father would leave restaurant first while I would stay longer to ask for box or boxes and pack the leftovers.

This winter, however, I finally dealt with the problem. As we were driving to the restaurant I kept telling Robert that he doesn’t have to eat everything. That he will eat only part of the ordered food in the restaurant and the other part we will take home, so he could eat it later when he gets hungry again.  I repeated the same thing when we were waiting for our dishes. Robert not only agreed but before leaving, placed his own leftovers in a box and took it to the car.

Dentist Visit

I picked up Robert from his program and we drove straight to the dentist for cleaning and check up. The dental hygienist came to the waiting room to call on Robert.  Almost automatically, I moved too.  The hygienist asked if I wanted to accompany Robert.  But she asked as if my presence was not obvious. And it hit me.  It shouldn’t be obvious because Robert could manage without me.  My presence only clouded the interaction between the hygienist and Robert.  Robert would expect me to give him directions and the hygienist would also expect my support if Robert didn’t follow immediately her request.  Thus instead of her repeating the words to make her demand clearer, she would turn to me to do the same. That is confusing to everybody. So I chose to remain in the waiting room while Robert had his teeth cleaned. It felt great!

Park in Winter

Robert wanted to go for a walk so we drove to Stony Brook. As soon as we got to the place where the trail begins, I realized that it was indeed winter. The trail was covered with all forms of wintery water.  There was slushy snow, there was snow covered with thin layer of ice, there was fluffy snow, and there was uneven ice that probably melted and froze again a few times.  I wasn’t ready for walk on such surface as I do have a tendency to fall even on flat surfaces. But Robert set his mind on walk and walk he did. I followed him with uneasy steps. A few times I called on Robert to help me conquer a few slippery spots. He always returned and led me for a few steps, then he went ahead again.  I called him again and again and again. Well, I really didn’t need his help, but I wanted him to understand that this walk although easy for him might be challenging to me. That would also make it easier for him to change his walking habits. Nonetheless, I also wanted him to be prepared for a variation to his walking routine.   “Robert, we would walk only to the water and we would come back the same way.  We would not go around.”  I kept repeating afraid that Robert, who always insist on doing things the same way, would have a hard time accepting changes to his walking routine.

Well, he did hesitated and made a few steps farther, but then he turned back and walked with me to the parking lot.

Where Do the Screams Spring From

February 14, 2019

I realized that I could write about Robert’s screams only because during the last few weeks he was much calmer, happy really, than in the previous few months. So, it was easier to hypothesize about the causes of the cluster of behaviors that included loud noises, slapping his own face, and, sometimes, stumping his feet. The starting and the finish points were clear and easy to define. 

Very often, the screams sprout from confusion.

It was no later than 7 PM. I was not feeling good.  From my bedroom I called to Robert to bring me a bottle of water.  Robert was sitting on the sofa and seemed reluctant to move.  I asked again, and then I dozed off.  A few minutes later I woke up and asked Robert again to bring the bottle of water. Robert didn’t move.  But he produced a few short screams, the sounds of impatient irritation.  Only then, I noticed that the bottle of water was already on the nightstand next to my bed. Robert brought it when I was sleeping. Thus when I asked him for water that he had already fetched, he became confused.  He didn’t have tools to address that confusion. He couldn’t say, “I brought the water already”  or something similar. Even though he knew all the necessary words, he couldn’t recall them and string them together to respond properly. So he replaced words with the sounds of frustration. The screams subsided when  I said , “Robert, you brought the water already.  Thank you, thank you!”

They spring from pain.

He screams, stumps his feet, and hits his cheeks.  His eyes are red from desperation and powerlessness. I don’t know how to help him. He cannot tell what hurts.  I suspect that when he is in pain, he feels that he did something wrong and doesn’t want to admit it. I suspect that for him the pain is something that attacks him from within and thus he feels guilty that he brought it upon himself. I can only  guess that his pain  is related to his digestive system, as his belly  feels hard and bloated.  He tries to calm down, but cannot really.  He holds his breath as if holding air would alleviate his discomfort. Then he exhales in a heavy, artificial way. After a few minutes, the screams return. We are still baffled about origins of pain.  One doctor stated that he had spastic muscles in his face and neck. Sometimes I suspect it is related to asthma. I suspect it is because of gases. I suspect his eczema flare ups drive him mad. I suspect everything cannot confirm anything. So, I try to massage his cheeks, even though Robert moves backwards from me and keeps hitting his them. I give him additional pill of Zyrtek in case it is allergy.  I give him inhaler in case it is asthma related.  I give him Metamucil crackers in case of gases.  And I give him Advil if it is something else.  He looks at me as if he couldn’t understand what is happening to him and why I don’t help him. When he is in pain his eyes scream too.

They erupt from mixture of disappointments.

Last Friday, Robert had pretty good morning.  We went together to his physician to pick up permission slip. On the way home, we stopped in two supermarkets.  We did some learning together. Robert’s horseback riding lesson was uneventful.  However, after we came home, Robert began screaming and hitting his face. Everything was going wrong. He felt cheated and disappointed.  I didn’t buy him buttermilk sandwich as I often do after the riding. (Well, he asked for taco which we did buy.) He learned that Tim, who usually comes on Friday afternoons, won’t come that day.  He also learned that there wouldn’t be any skiing that weekend. “Ski, ski, ski” he kept repeating. “We will go skiing next week”, I told him and pointed to the date on the calendar.  Robert took a pencil and wrote “ski” on the calendar space for the following Saturday. “Tim, Tim”, he kept repeating.  “Tim will come next Friday”  That was not the answer Robert waited for.  He screamed again.  Finally , he asked for coke.  But there was none at home that day. So, Robert screamed louder.

Robert was clearly angry. His emotions formed a volcano from which shouts erupted,  But then,I am not sure, if the pain was not not an additional factor.  It might be that he had allergy to something as the back of his neck got very red. And his breathing seemed different.   It is possible, that the salsa he used with his taco irritated his stomach.

So it could be the unidentified pain attacking him from within. It could be.

But then, when Jan told him, that he that he would go skiing after all, Robert became his happy, charming self again.  So, maybe he didn’t feel any pain after all.

And of course the screams are Robert’s way to tell us something when the words – the tools needed for the construction of tunnels of communication – don’t.

All Robert’s screams are caused by his  lack of ability to communicate verbally reasons for his distress. Precisely because of that lack it is important to find the causes. Different roots call for different approaches. If I could understand the origin of Robert’s anguish I could not only offer a solution – for instance take Robert to a doctor- but also teach him the proper ways of expressing himself.  I could teach him and practice with him the simplest sentences or phrases, “Stomach hurts” ,”I am angry” . “I did it already” which  he could use in lieu of screaming.

 

 

 

 

For the record 10

That’s not writing. That’s just typing” Said Capote about Kerouac. I could paraphrase his words, “That’s not writing.  That’s recording.”  Writing  expects that the author would search for the meaning, or at least the structure,  while recording leaves the searches and discoveries to the hypothetical reader.  Person doing the recording might hope that the reader would find some form or sense in the pile of words and details.

In this context, recording is a sign of being overwhelmed and/or lost.

Writing to recording is like creating a structure to gathering building materials with hope that someone else would do the work.

Recording seems easier than writing but it also more treacherous as it might lead to nowhere.

Week without studying

I had an unpleasant cold.  I didn’t want to breathe my germs on Robert so for 5 days we didn’t study together.  Each day, however, I dropped pieces of a puzzle on the table and each day Robert engaged himself in assembling them.  He wasn’t applying any special method and yet each day, he managed to put together at least half of a puzzle.  Three quarters of the frame and a couple of central parts of the picture.  Then he had enough and for a few minutes he  watched a movie on Netflix. However, before the evening bath, he managed to complete the puzzle.

I also left on the table simple tasks, he could complete on his own such as, counting perimeters of different polygons and  area of different rectangles. To my surprise, he did better than I expected remembering how hooked he was on my presence.  Most importantly he did it without waiting for my support.

Robert;s dad built with Robert a corner shelf.  Over all, to my relief, Robert didn’t fall apart without our evening study sessions.

At Sunapee

Robert continued skiing with NEHSA at Sunapee.  I was told that he did better with the narrowing a gap between his skis. That was a big thing , as Robert is used to skiing with legs either  far apart or father apart.     More important, however, was the fact that he didn’t protest, as he had done years ago, when his instructor wanted him to wear goggles to protect his eyes.  It was also important that he  flexibly  switched from skiing on South Peak to North Peak and vice versa.

Watching the Road

We were driving from Doctor’s appointment to Robert’s program.  Instead of taking exit 12, I took the exit 13. As soon as I directed our car toward that exit, Robert softly but clearly reminded me, “HMEA, HMEA” . It was too late and I had to leave the highway and reenter it after few minutes.  Robert learned his lesson.  Just as I was slightly slowing before the exit 14 A, Robert reminded me. “HMEA, HMEA” so I proceeded to exit 14B.  When a few months ago, I slowed down before the turn we usually take while going to Stop and  Shop,  Robert managed to corrected \ me, “Dentist, dentist.” and I kept straight toward the dentist office.   He doesn’t panic, he doesn’t scream. He just calmly and warmly reminds me where we are going.

 

 

 

 

 

For the Record 9

January 17, 2019

Robert and I did a lot of easy studying, repeating, and reviewing during the last couple weeks.

Every day, we read two pages from Autism and PDD Expanding Social Options and practiced sentences related to each topic.

We advanced to the Intermediate level of presentation while working with lessons from Functional Routines for Adolescent & Adults Home. I expand the lessons to relate them to our previous experiences while performing many daily chores.

Robert is still solving one 9×9 Sudoku a day with my help. However, there are more moments when he independently enters a few numbers in the grid. Moreover, he grasped the idea that although sometimes we cannot point to the cell were given number belongs, we still can deduce that it belongs to a given column or row.  Using that information helped Robert to enter other numbers on the chart.  I consider this to be very important development.

I brought back Take Me to Your Seat folders. During the last two weeks, we used them to

1. Add positive and negative numbers to find the temperature  outside.                                                                                                                                                                                         2. Count the percent to find the sale price of clothes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. 3 .Count vertices, edges, and faces of different 3D shapes.                                                                                                                                                                                                            4. Retrieve data from  bar, line, and circle graphs.

We practiced cursive writing to increase the length of some of the letters which Robert changes into microscopic, undecipherable waves.  There is not much improvement on this front.

We used Fun Deck cards to address among others the fluency of Robert’s speech. Lately, we went through set of Do and Does, Let’s Predict and a few others.

And of course we are still practicing pronunciation with old, huge Weber book, repeating each word or phrase twice.

we continue reading one chapter (around 10 pages each) a day from abridged children’s classics.

I realized, however, that Robert would benefit much more from original versions.

The time we study together is the most peaceful time in our home as everything hangs in balance.

However. it worries me that there is no increase in the length or number  of Robert’s independent activities. It worries me, that he relies too heavily on my support, suggestions, or even my physical presence to continue learning.

He demonstrates more drive with some of the chores – mainly laundry from loading the washing machine to folding and hanging and emptying dishwasher.

Unfortunately, as he is getting older, it is easier for me to see how many things I neglected to teach him or practice with him. Making list of such items would be much more useful than the list I have just written above.  Such list would allow me to set new goals instead of pretending to be satisfied with what I almost automatically do every day.

It is not what Robert needs most.  I know it, and he probably knows that too.

Connecting Parts of Robert’s Universe Part 1

I wrote this text two years ago as an introduction to my report about our trip to Philadelphia. However, the problems related to Robert’s ontology present themselves frequently enough to warrant a second look and more detailed description. 

When, during our trip to Philadelphia, Robert was exposed to new arrangements of familiar elements, he exhibited  the behaviors I knew from the past.  I dealt with them years ago and believed they were extinct.  They weren’t.

In the past, I discovered that Robert’s universe was made of separate bubbles. Each bubble consisted of specific places, concrete people, and a particular set of rules characteristic to that sub-world.

1.  Each person has assigned her own place  in the world and shouldn’t encroach  on another person’s space. Robert tried to push me out when I visited HIS classroom.  He attempted to block his teachers from entering OUR home.  While we, the parents, could take him to almost any restaurant, only his respite providers (any of them) could take Robert to McDonald’s.

2. Each person also had  special role in Robert’s life.  When outside, Robert followed Amanda example to the T’s.  She climbed on a rock, he did too.  She walked on a fallen tree, he walked on it too. She jumped in a funny way from the curb, he returned to the sidewalk to emulate her movement.  But when Amanda reached for the bottle of juice which was placed too high for Robert (he was shorter than she at that time), he got mad. It was not her job to do so.  Only parents could give him his juice.  It was their prerogative and their responsibility.

3. Robert could go to any place provided that after each visit we returned home.  Then he could go again. The home was the center connected to other bubbles, but the remaining bubbles were not supposed to be connected to each other.

4. The things should remain in the same places.  All things, including cars and people.

Over the years, we managed to help Robert expand his worlds and connect many of those separate sub-worlds into more complex but hopefully more uniform universe replacing narrow rules with more general ones that allowed for flexible adjustments. However, during our trip to Philadelphia Robert seemed to recreate his old model of the universe.  When we didn’t act in accordance with this model, Robert tried to remedy  that by constantly remaining us about the problem and, when we didn’t react properly, he protested.