Ok, to continue the challenge of supporting people with severe learning disabilities, I will concentrate on a gentleman who presents a slightly different challenge to his housemates. He is known by staff as ‘Bobson’. Of course, that isn’t his actual name, but he’s known by that name because somewhere, in the far recesses of his mind, is a memory of the great, deceased football manager, Bobby Robson. He struggles to say the full name, but he has found a unique, very comical way of pronunciation. ‘Bobson ‘.
Our staff, as a collective, all agree that if Bobson could communicate in ways that are considered ‘Normal’ by society, with full mental capacity, then he would be a gentle, loving man with an infectious sense of humour.
He has a couple of unusual habits that are, I would guess, unique to him. In fact, if anyone else has the following habits, please, please desist immediately.
Bobson is severely constipated, so to try and alleviate his predicament, he is given medication that is intended to relax the bowel and loosen the stools. Unfortunately, for him and for the staff, his bowels only open, on average , about once a week and when they do, ohhhh boyyyyyy, it’s like King Kong has left a deposit!!
Now, even though Bobson is unable to communicate his discomfort verbally, he has a couple of ways to show us through his body language. He has a habit of laying on the floor or/and settee, he very rarely sits down. So, when he is laid on the floor, he rocks to and fro, at very high speed, whilst repeating the word “Bobson “. No amount of soothing words help him. He goes into his own tormented world, rocking faster and faster, the word Bobson becoming louder and louder!!
If and inevitably when he is left alone for a short space of time, his finger gets to work. He must be extremely uncomfortable because he attempts to manually excavate the obstruction. Inevitably, he has what we refer to as ‘Poo finger’, so we are constantly cleaning his nails and fingers. However, when he self excavates, it must give him some relief because he becomes calmer and lays down near staff with a toothless smile. Unfortunately, he has another habit of trying to poke your face with his poo finger, not in an aggressive way but affectionately. Obviously, we have learnt to avoid said poo finger, which appears to amuse him because he becomes more determined to touch you!!!
The other habit he has, as I have already mentioned, is laying down. You may ask why this is a challenging habit. The answer to that is, he lays down anywhere and at any time, without notice!! For instance, a while ago, 2 members of staff took him for a walk across some fields not far from Bobson’s residence. The staff who remained with the other residents were informed that they would be gone for approximately 1 hour. Three (3) hours later they arrived back at the house looking flustered! Bobson had decided to lay down in a field and relax in the sun for over an hour. No amount of encouragement would shift him from his spot!! Eventually, he got to his feet and marched across the field towards home! However, when they came to the zebra crossing, he decided to lay down again and refused to move. The funny thing was, because he refused to move, and because the staff are not allowed to physically pick him up (Abuse!!!) the long line of traffic that had built up were at a standstill. Buses, lorries and cars were forced to wait for him 😂 until he decided the time was right to move off the crossing!!!
Obviously I can laugh about it because I wasn’t directly involved in it, but the thought of that comical incident still makes me chuckle.
Occasionally, Bobson has a moment of clarity. By that I mean about once or twice a month, from nowhere, the expression on his face changes, and for about 5 seconds he realises the cruelties of his disabilities or what his learning difficulties are and how they have affected his life, then he goes back to the life of Bobson.
We try our very best to ensure he and his housemates live as fruitful a life as possible, but when we witness the moments of clarity pass across Bobson’s face, we know we can only do so much.
I have one more resident to talk about in a final post about what I do for a living. Until then.