Substitute Teaching: Special-Ed (PPHS 3.2)


The theme in class was birthday cakes. Tomorrow is Ty, Cameron, and Joel’s birthday, so all the classes at the school colored birthday cakes. Only Becca and Roy can color in our class and Roy only really goes through the motions since he has extremely limited vision. Our sister-class has a lot of good colorers and with the fervor starting to grow for the upcoming birthday, everyone got involved. Joey, an autistic man with unreal OCD, is better at coloring-book coloring than any of the teachers and so there were several nice looking birthday cakes hanging around our sister-classroom.

The reason I’m telling you about the coloring exercise is because I want to tell you about Eric and Roy: a study in opposites.

The class routine is to rest in the morning and watch the news. There are a lot of requests for this from parents, because without this routine the students wander around their homes and in front of the TV in particular when everyone else is trying to watch something. Eric and Jesus are the primary recipients of attention during this time. Jesus watches the TV from about two inches away and Eric migrates from person to person blocking their view. The others sit quietly and Roy will sometimes make noises in response to some stories like the weather (Ty is the best at this–oh wait, he’s in a wheelchair). Right after the news, students can be involved in an activity or go on the computers. This is when we worked on coloring.

Okay: Eric. Eric is a mid-height, young man with red hair and green eyes. His posture is odd, he sticks his stomach way in front of himself. It’s interesting, because he isn’t fat. Left to his own, he wonders around the class scratching the surface of anyone of three basketballs or a tupperware top. His eyes are set very far apart and he has a broad mouth and talon-like fingernails. This is good to know, because when he’s planning something fetzy he gets “the Grinch Face” (he looks so much like the Grinch it is shocking). Fetzy is the term coined by Crystal for Eric-naughtiness. She picked up the word from her LDS-mission to Madagascar where fetzy has something to do with devious-naughtiness.

Today, he was targeting all the artwork. Because all the students need attention, he can get away from us. During exercise period while a bunch of undergrads from BYU showed up to observe and we were in the sister-classroom where the exercise equipment is, Eric went on an art work destruction attack. Stuff got shredded. Four or five birthday cakes and a couple of Popeyes from last week bit the dust. When Joy and Crystal got to him, he proceeded to physically attack them with his fists, open-hands and talons.

While this is going on, Roy is cleaning up the mess.

Roy and Eric are cognitively about the same. Roy is more into cooperation and intense activity (or napping when he wears himself out). Both are non-verbal except for the occasional odd noise (Eric caws like a crow and Roy laughs and yells “whistle” whenever he hears one). Eric is dedicated to destruction and Roy is dedicated to cleanliness.

Roy is five-tenish with buzz-cut blonde hair. His eyes are blue, but they are sunk deep into his face and hard to see. He has several missing teeth in the front. The first thing I noticed about Roy when I met him was his constant bouncing on a large, red exercise-ball (he broke one before Christmas when he was getting so high he hit his head on the ceiling–I didn’t believe it, but there is a dent in the ceiling tile above where he bounces). During exercise time, he works on a walking machine (pictThe exact machine Roy usesured). Sometimes he will go for ten minutes or more without hands, but getting the same range of motion as the guy in the picture. Roy is a real athlete.

I don’t know why Roy cleans. Some of the others think it is because he wants a clear path to walk on since he cannot see well. Whatever the reason, whenever Eric makes a mess, Roy is there to try to clean it up even if the mess is sanctioned.

Part of me wants to think Eric does what he does, because he lives in a half-way house with several other adult men like him and has done so since his second year of high-school. According to Crysgtal and Joy, he has made great progress. I have noticed he gets the most attention when he makes a mess and so we only reinforce his behavior through correction. Roy on the other hand loves to help with chores. He like to clean the cups and pitcher. He likes to run small errands. He also likes to laugh when others are laughing. The last contrast is that Roy lives at home and is constantly at his mother’s side helping her. Forgotten child versus loved child. Roy and Eric: a study in opposites.


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