RD is a very sweet young man on the autism spectrum (he does not use speech to communicate), and he is very particular about things. And by this I mean that he seems to believe that all things should have a place (I think I can thank one of his family members for his excellent manners and his tidy nature.)
It so happens, that we work in a terrifically messy room in his cottage (oddly enough, it's the, um, "sensory room") (yes) (well).
No matter how much I try to clean up all the clutter in the place before I go and pick him up for his session, he still finds things to, er, tidy.
He also likes checking out all kinds of objects. He has a collection of action figures with giant feet (I don't want to know!), and his staff people find him books and various things that have moving parts to them. He keeps them all in a big box with his picture on the front. Great!
So. Back to the aforementioned "sensory room"...
Because this is, apparently, a full service sensory room, there are almost always broken battery-operated sorts of things lying around in varying states of function and dysfunction. This means that the batteries are lying around (lovely), and the little parts that keep the batteries quietly tucked inside the gadgets are also roaming about freely.
RD, being the tidying kind of guy he is, and being the kind of person who likes to bond with objects, has been picking up these little plastic parts that were supposed to hold in batteries. He just turns them over and over in his fingers and holds them close to his face so he can examine them.
While he's doing that, he sings. He hums little melodies (I've come to learn that he repeats specific melodies with small variations here and there). I either sing them back to him or play them on the guitar (with my own variations and chords). And while he's scurrying about the room arranging things, we sing and play back and forth with each other.
The other thing you need to know is that, when he borrows an instrument from me (to check out as described) he often puts it back in the closet that's in the sensory room. As such, I have to go and retrieve the instrument quickly because otherwise it'll be there for all eternity (I have reached the official limit on my brain's memory card, and, let's face it: some things are just going to have to go!).
Now, not only does he take my stuff and put it in the cottage closet, but he puts stuff he picks up in the cottage on my music cart or in my instrument bag. I am forever pulling things out of my bags (after his session) and putting them back in the room (back in circulation, as it were).
So, as I mentioned above, I was thinking about RD, and I was wondering: why does he keep putting cottage things in my bags? And why does he keep putting my stuff in the sensory room closet? What's that about? Is there something he might want me to know? Or that I should be noticing about this?
And I thought, hm. So I mentioned to him during his session that maybe he needs to have me hold on to a small piece of him when I go (i.e., don't forget me, please). And maybe putting my stuff in the cottage closet is a way for him to keep a piece of me as well.
When I gave it some more consideration, it occurred to me, again, that here's a guy who likes everything to have its own place- whether it's the "right" place or the "wrong" place. And I remembered that he himself grew up in a few different places, being sent around to various family members, because his mother died when he was an infant.
And now here he is with us, in an institution.
And it made me think about objects. And about having a place to be. And I wondered (out loud to him) if maybe it was important to him that he have a specific place to be. And what his thoughts are about being in the "right" place or the "wrong" place. And which one he feels the institution might be.
RD's response was to increase his singing. He and I sang back and forth for ten more minutes than usual today (we usually make it for 20 minutes, but today it was 30!) before he hopped up and began pulling the guitar off of me to indicate that we were finished.
So, I'm thinking this is veeeery cool.
Definitely warrants some more thinking...