Opportunities for Learning // Judy Itzkowitz | Just another WordPress site

Opportunities for Learning

I would like to share a series of events that have occurred that have been exceptional teachers for all of the beings (2-legged and 4-legged) involved.  One of the young men who I have known for several years, came to my house the other day.  He happens to live with deaf-blindness. Sometimes when people meet him, they think that he cannot learn and does not know much. His mom was kind to drive me home as I had fallen and was not able to drive.  He had only been to my home one other time  — not such a great experience for him.  My dog Jamie has a birth defect in his paw, which sometimes creates some pain and stress.  He deals with stress through reactivity.  His mom and I thought that we had planned things well, yet Jamie, was very stressed and almost bit him on the leg.  This young man was in a new environment and walks with a heavy uneven gait.  I think that both Jamie and this young man were nervous around each other, picking up on each other’s fears.  I think that emotional contagion was at work.

Courage.  His mom and I discussed what happened.  We had a difficult, yet important conversation.  We reflected on what happened to see what we could do differently.  Reflection, I find, is so invaluable, when faced with a problem.  Everyone seemed very stressed from the incident.  We wanted to work through this so that everyone could feel more comfortable and safe.  We did a few things… I had brought my dogs over to his house for a brief visit when I was in the area.  The young man laughed and loved to see his dog and my dogs play together.  The Bichon calendar gift that we had given him was hidden for quite a while.  He used to look at it and cry.

So, I was concerned when he arrived at my house that day. Would he be okay?  Would he want to come into the house?  How would the dogs be with him?  So, I walked in first and Jamie was out with our friend, Your Pet Nanny.  My dog Jesse, the one who is an old soul, smelled the young man, was very curious and relaxed.

The young man immediately went into my bedroom and went onto my bed.  When he was told that he was not going to stay over, sleep over, he went to my mother’s room and went on her bed.  He was telling us, he wanted to stay.  When Jamie came in, we had him on a leash on his mat in the kitchen; all of the adults were vigilant so that everyone was safe.  To think, I had wondered whether this gentleman would be afraid to come into the house.  He was fine.  He showed courage. It takes a lot of courage for him to get through the day, when life can be unpredictable.  When he went to bed that evening, he actually laughed himself to sleep.  The next morning he woke up, and this is what happened as told to me by his mother in an email.  Just a side note.  He had given my mother a hat for her birthday, he loves hats.  A bright yellow hat.  As a thank you, we had sent a photo of my mother, the hat, and the boys, as this  young man communicates  by selecting photos.  So, he got this photo and put it on his red bag,

Red backpack with photo of Miss Gladys and the Bichons

Young Man: I want to go to Dr. Judy’s house.

Mom: Sorry. No… Dr. Judy is hurt.

Young Man: I want to go to Dr. Judy’s house.

Mom: Sorry… no… Dr. Judy is hurt.

Young Man: I want to go to Dr. Judy’s house.

Mom: Sorry…we can’t.  Dr. Judy is hurt.

Young Man: I am packing my own bag because I want to go to Dr. Judy’s house.

Mom: Sorry… Dr. Judy is hurt.  Maybe a different day.

This sequence occurred 37 times!!!!  Very sweet but a little bit annoying after the 30th request :).  Can’t blame him for trying and boy is he persistent!!!!!!

He then took a photo of how he initially requested your house. He took the photo off the fridge of your mother and the boys and put it in his bag. He eventually packed his bag, got our coats and keys.

Guess he misses you 🙂

Later that day, he went to the bathroom, got the bottle of Pepto-Bismol, and put that on the bag.  You see he usually takes this when he is hurt and not feeling well.  He thought that it would make me feel better.  Well, hearing about this did make me feel better.  It reminded me to continue to have high expectations.  Sometimes, we do not realize how much people are thinking about what has happened to them, what an impact we make on their lives. Sometimes when someone has a significant disability, we can forget how many things the person does understand.   I often need to remember what a difference I make in other people’s lives and the difference people make in my life, that what I do impacts others.  How do you make a difference in someone’s life?  How do other people contribute to your life?   Do you have high expectations for the people around you?  Have there been times when people have surprised you?  exceeded what you thought was possible for them?  

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