Wednesday, March 28, 2007

language receptive-expressive disorder

recently we have been working with this woman who has a language receptive-expressive disorder, and that is a completely new disability to me. I've talked to people that have a problem similar to what this woman has going on, but so far they have all been schizophrenic. Which is fine, it makes the conversation interesting and fun, however obtaining pertinent information a challenge. But I don't think this woman has any other diagnoses, nothing significant enough to warrant a cause for the massive communication deficits people experience talking to her.

I haven't had to talk this woman yet, but one of my co-workers has to, and assist her through our application process. Here's an example of what she had to deal with:

[co-worker and applicant are completing a 10 year background investigation form]

Q: So, where did you live before the place you are living at now?

A: My daughter is pregnant. I think this weekend I'll go to the coast.

And to make things more challenging, she also has a speech impediment!

I think she was receptive enough if you gave her a directive a couple of times, such as "get the pen from the table," she would comply, but exchanging information seemed to be tricker. I don't really know much about her but am curious as to how she will do once she begins training. I bet there's a way to communicate with her that she can understand.

Do you remember "Twilight Zone: The Series" that was on TV in the mid-eighties? I was really into that show, I remember always being fascinated with fantasy and science fiction. I also used to watch "Amazing Stories," which in retrospect seems to be a twilight zone rip off. Anyway, there's an episode of these 1985 Twilight Zone programs where a guy, a family man, slowly loses language comprehension and definition all through the episode. It starts small, at one point the husband was in the kitchen asking his wife to hand him a spoon, and she looks at him strangely and replies, that's not a spoon honey, that's a walrus. Three quarters of the way through the episode, this guy is practically psychotic because he's having such trouble communicating with people. Then, at the end of this episode there is an accident, and this guy's little son is hit by a car. There's a scene I remember where he's carrying his son's limp body into an emergency room, shouting, "linoleum! dinosaur! door frame for identify knife pudding!"

I remember feeling so bad for that guy, it really elicited an indescribable emotion from me. I guess the closest thing I can think of to describe it would be horrid depressing disbelief. Or maybe awful despair. I can't remember how it ended, and for the life of me I can't remember the name of that episode. I was thinking of renting and watching that series now that I'm done with The Sopranos.

I also remember an episode entitled "Children's Zoo." In this episode, a young girl is living with parents who constantly fight and bicker. So this is going on for a while, then one day the girl gets an invitation to a special event at a zoo, which requires both parents to accompany her. Well, after the parents bicker for a while and the girl pleads, they both begrudgingly go to this zoo event with her.

Upon arrival, she is separated from her parents, and they are shown into a "waiting area." The host that greeted the girl begins showing her around the zoo, and instead of animals in these plexiglass cages are sets of parents, separated from their children. The girl walks past the first couple, and they are over the top fake and nice, and it freaks her out a little and she starts to walk away. Then as she's leaving, they start pounding on the plexiglass and yelling at her, "Let us out of here you little brat!" and the girl takes off out of that area. The next "cage," has another set of angry parents in it, and the host explains how parents should value their children, and parents who can't value their children don't deserve to have them.

A while later while after they've walked past several more sets of couples, they come upon another cage containing very concerned and sincere parents. They explain to the girl that they've learned the value of children, and what a gift it is to have a child, blah blah blah, and the girl eats it up; she looks at her host and says "okay, I'll take them."

Later on, you see the girl smiling, leaving and holding hands with the two nicer parents, and her previous beat down verbally abusive parents are behind a plexiglass window in the background, banging their fists and yelling at her.

I swear for the rest of my teenage years I thought about that episode and fantasized about having the opportunity to trade my parents in.

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