Let’s take another trip down memory lane to my teaching days. For a number of years there were several high functioning students. Learning to have some degree of independence was part of their curriculum. The school was located in a neighborhood that had a number of delis, bakeries, a couple of clothing stores, a couple of shoe stores and even an old time Woolworth’s. We had an arrangement with some of the shopkeepers. One or two students would be sent to a specific store with a list they would give to the shopkeeper. Sometimes the students were given cash to pay for the items. Othertimes the shopkeepers would just get the items knowing that staff would be in later to pay. It was a great experience for developing independence, safe street crossings and exhibiting appropriate social behaviors.
Michael (not his real name), an 18 yr. old, was one of those students. A couple of things you ought to know about Michael . He was a collector, as many of us may be. His passion was spatulas and birthday cakes. His locker was full of spatulas. We often wondered where and how he procured so many. We also figured it was best not to ask. As for the birthday cakes, he did not collect them and stash them in his locker. He just like to eat them.
Michael also had another characteristic of which we needed to be very mindful. He was somewhat of an escape artist. The wanderlust could overtake him at any time and he would leave school and go on an adventure. He had several adventures throughout the year. Some escapes were from school, while others were after school hours.
One afternoon as staff was returning from lunch break, we saw Michael sitting in the lobby looking rather peaked with a hint of green around the edges. He seemed to be sick all that afternoon. No one could figure out why, especially since Michael was not much of a communicator. After school a couple of staff members decided to go along the street to see if Michael had been in any of the shops.
When they entered one of the bakeries, the sales clerk said Michael had been in and asked for one of the birthday cakes. Being familiar with our students, she didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary. Even when he did not pay for the cake, she assumed one of the teachers would be in to do so. Of course, Michael had ventured out on his own volition and somewhere between the bakery and school, he had devoured the entire cake. Mysterious malady diagnosed. Yup, just another day at the office.
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