When the school budgets were cut, reading programs for mentally challenged students changed. Bruce was put into Life Skills classes and reading became a secondary focus. He still loved reading letters and asking what they spell. I had him read me the letters of the settings, say the word, and then find what word matched the setting we needed. He had even learned the correct measurement for the detergent. When the washer finished, we moved the clothes into the dryer and found that setting the same way. I had learned that folding clothes was not his forte, but for me, he always tried to be neat. His favorite part of this operation: putting the clothes away. Why? He loved going through our closets and drawers, checking out our clothes and shoes. “Lynne, listen to me. Listen, I would like to try that shirt,” or, “Yeah, I need those sneakers.” Being a clothes and sneaker hound himself, he was always on the lookout for something we had that he might want. Just for the record, Bruce had so many clothes that they were in labeled crates in the basement of his group home. He could open his own sneaker store offering a variety of styles and colors. We tried to be creative, sometimes going to the movies or bowling, but spending time at home together was always what we preferred as it afforded us the opportunity to talk and share family time. When the weather was comfortable, Bruce loved going for the two-block walk to our lake in the development. He was not one to choose to walk when he could be driven, so this was quite a pleasant shock and a challenge for me—if you remember, me being the power strider that I am. Bruce moved in minus speed, looking everywhere but where he was actually walking and talking at the speed I walked. Although I am an expert at deciphering his messages, even I had him repeat himself occasionally. He rolled his eyes, something else we have in common, took a deep breath and said, “Listen to me.”
“I am listening, you are talking too fast. Take a deep breath and try again.” Eventually I got it.
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