It's been a few months now that Kevin has been acting out at his group home and his workshop. The frustration of not being able to decipher what is wrong is palpable in me and in the staff. I know that I want to throw things across the room every once in a while, but I can hold back the urge. Kevin can't. He punches the air and sometimes his fists collide with other people. I worry about their safety, I worry about Kevin's peace of mind. Just what is going on inside that brain of his - the one that knows all his colors, but can't tell the difference between the numbers 2 and 3? I've asked dozens of questions in a myriad different ways to try to ascertain what is wrong. The answer is always, "nuttin."
His misbehavior started on weekends and spread to the weekdays, even manifesting itself with his favorite staff. Now, finally, things seem to be reversing a little. He's having good days during the week again. Is it the reward system of giving him a daily star for achievement of each of four criteria (not hitting, keeping his hands to himself, good manners and another that I can't remember) or the introduction of a new medication? Is it the dinner he had last week with Vinnie, his favorite staff member, who left the group home a few months ago? Or is it a combination of all of the above? I long for a graph, a chart, some analysis that tells me the exact proportion of factors to pull together to elicit good behavior. The tough fact is it's trial and error and it always will be.
Upon hearing the news that he had two good days, yesterday and today, I felt relief fill me, revealing to me again how much I worry about him. I try to remember that I am not in this alone. My older brother and his family, the group home managers, the workshop team, his case manager - all these people want a happy and healthy Kevin.
Tonight, as I was saying good night to Kevin on the phone, the staff member was egging him on from his end, reminding him to say good night. Then she said, "Tell Sissa you'll talk to her tomorrow."
And Kevin said, "Good night Sissa. Me talk about you tomorrow."
It's moments like this that make it all worth it.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
I have attended two funerals in the last week for parents of friends. One was a father who died suddenly. The second was a mother whose death was expected after a brief illness. Having lost both my parents, I know the pain of this loss, the memories that sweep over you like waves in the ocean, the worry about a surviving parent who is overcome with grief. I see in both these families the love that will carry them through these times. I see the upbringing by the parents they have lost reflected in my friends' actions, their gentle nature, their kindness and strength. There is no better tribute.