Sunday, September 09, 2007

Have I Mentioned I'm Bad at Titles?

I did something dumb last night.

E. is just learning to use a formal communication system.  She imitates some words, has a few signs, and is beginning to use a VOCA (Voice Output Communication...Aid) -- specifically, a TalkTrac -- to request attention.

However, that addresses only a miniscule portion of her needs, and she sometimes uses other means to get what she wants -- one of those is pinching/scratching.

That's fairly common among kids with severe disabilities; it's something I knew going into it, and it doesn't bother me (in the sense that I understand that there's no intention to harm me or anyone else, not in the sense that it doesn't physically hurt).

In any event, while E. is overall scratching much less this year, early this week, she got in a good dig on my left arm.  It had scabbed over and was healing nicely until I was installing my grandpa's new speakers for his computer.

(I say "installing" -- it was really just plugging them in.)

In any event, my arm was itching, and for some reason -- most likely sheer stupidity -- I forgot that there was a scab there and scratched.

And ripped the scab off.

(Which, incidentally, hurt way more than the initial scratch.)

However, that was not the dumb thing.

The dumb thing was, when I asked for a Band-Aid, I answered honestly when my grandpa asked what happened.  Y'see, despite the fact that this is my fifth year of teaching, no one in my family has any real conception of what my job is.

Despite having Patrick around for 20 years -- almost exactly 20.5 -- now, they (1) don't really understand cognitive disabilities in general and (2) have no real conception that Patrick is way more blessed in communication and coping skills than many other kids.

Even as a kid, Patrick never had to scratch or grab hair to get someone to interact with him -- even if it was just "hey!" or "sissy!" or "mommy!" or "Amie!" he had enough verbal skills to accomplish that without using inappropriate means.

Last Christmas, when E. was still really struggling in school (she did not yet have aide support, although the wonderful Miss T. was with her in the mornings by necessity, and every Friday I was left running the class on my own for an hour due to staffing issues -- something E., who does not share attention well at all, did not handle easily) I consciously hid my scabbed hands under the table at all opportunities.

Had my dad's mom been alive (even when she thought I'd be teaching a bunch of kids with Patrick's abilities or more, she thought I'd chosen a pointless career that was wasting my life) I'd have had to take up wearing gloves.

The funny thing is, my grandpa has nearly electrocuted himself many times -- twice with lethal voltages.  He has scars from that.  So does my cousin.

And yet, I feel like I have to defend myself -- and E. -- and that makes me sad.

The really funny thing is, the two injuries I've gotten at work that hurt the most (besides nearly breaking my ankle...that was just clumsiness) were when S. head-butted me (he was trying to bang his own head and as I was distracting his hands, my head was the nearest hard surface...he would have done the same if it was a wall behind him) and when E. chucked that roll of masking tape at my shoulder and it rebounded onto my head.

Scratches really don't hurt much at all...until I rip the scab off.

I'm not sure if there was any profound point to this, other than, "Duh, SpooWriter, next time say the cat did it!"

Happy Sunday, folks, and a belated happy birthday to Cat.

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