As some of you already know, I work with adults whose problems with Asperger’s Syndrome are so complex, they are not able to survive without support and guidance. It is my job to go into their homes and give them the support they require. Some of the service users require or demand more support than others. One such client, I will call him Melvin, requires at least 95% of my attention when I’m on shift with him. While he is very hard work, working with Melvin can also be rewarding, sometimes.
I won’t go into personal details about him but I will say that Melvin has a wide range of interests which he goes from one to the next in obsessing over. At the moment, he is very much into the Titanic disaster and recreates this when in the tub by poking holes into model boats so he can watch them sink. But there is a darker side to Melvin too. Whenever he misplaces or loses something, he totally kicks off. It’s the same when one of his mechanical possessions don’t function properly. He starts yelling and swearing and has even thrown things in temper although he quickly calms down when the situation is resolved. I have told my wife about Melvin and what he’s like when he gets stressed to which she responded, “That’s you.”
Thinking about it, she’s right. When I can’t find what I’m looking for I get all upset and often use colourful language in my frustration. However, the big trigger for me is when things don’t work, I can probably be worse than Melvin. I am convinced that all cars, computers, MP3’s, CD players, televisions and other modern gadgets have a command in their programming that says, “You must not work properly for Michael.” When this happens, I scream shout and use said colourful language and have been known to throw and kick the object in sheer frustration. (Not an excuse) Recently when the keypad on my mobile phone stopped working properly, I declared in less diplomatic terms that my phone was sodomising me. Furthermore, I had to really concentrate to fight off the temptation to throw it against a wall. So, in this respect, I am exactly like Melvin.
The difference between us is that I have learned to stop letting things like that effect my life. There was a time with me where this wasn’t always the case and sometimes it’s still a struggle for me today. I know down deep that the makers of mechanical objects aren’t really trying to make my life miserable or otherwise, I would have a great case with trading standards. What it has done for me is aid me professionally because I can totally see where Melvin is coming from and empathise with him.
Next post: Part II