And Yeah

Lyn's respite provider has been working with her since April.  She's a young woman who Lyn has readily accepted.  Knowing that Lyn has an upcoming appointment with the group of doctors at the University, she wrote a letter to them documenting the changes he has observed in just the last four months.  It is with permission that I am able to include segments here to share with you today.

She writes:

In the last three and a half months, I have noticed some memory changes in Lyn.  When we first started working together, she was able to tell a story with help from my verbal cues and follow up questions.  She was not able to accurately tell me dates of the event, how long ago it was, or how it got started but she was able to tell about the event and convey the emotion associated with the event.  Now, she struggles to tell me a timeline.  She tends to get the series of events mixed up within the story.  Also, sometimes even with verbal cues and follow up questions, she still cannot finish a story.  She often finishes it with, "...and yeah."  She seems to get lost in her own thoughts once she has ended a story this way.

Lyn tends to get lost in her thoughts more and more often.  She particularly spaces out when she does not have something requiring her attention.  She will start to color and then stop and just be thinking.  Sometimes if I say too many sentences in a row she will lose focus and start thinking to herself instead of listening to me.  A time that she does this the most is when she is dancing.  She says that she likes the dance that we attend weekly but often she is not mentally on the dance floor.  

Another significant change I have noticed is that she seems to be losing track of what she does and does not like.  For example, often I will ask her about something she liked a few weeks ago and she will say that she doesn't like it or she cannot remember if she likes it.

Last, I have noticed that she has started to repeat me more and more.  Instead of forming her own opinion as she did before, she is now saying what I said about the situation.  In addition, she often repeats her reaction about what is said.  For example, someone may say that they did not bowl well today.  I will answer with "Bummer.  Maybe next week you will do better."  She will respond to them by saying "Bummer" and then repeat it multiple times as if she wasn't heard.

Seeing this letter evokes a collection of mixed emotions from me and I suspect from Mom.  Lyn's respite provider confirms our own observations of Lyn's behavior.  This is a good thing.  However, it confirms the rapid and progressive nature of the changes.  This is not good.

The "...and yeah." is standard conversation now.  Lyn doesn't do it much from my children because she's able to cover her lapses by asking them questions and then saying "Good!" or something similar in response to them.  They don't watch her eyes and see her drift off.  I see it though.  Lyn does give me the "...and yeah" in all of our conversations of the last two or three months.  It is just another indicator of the changes but I fear that this one means that she's sliding into being unable to communicate at all.

This weekend, Mom and Lyn went to a restaurant for lunch.  Mom expected Lyn to order a hamburger which has long been her favorite meal when she goes out.  Lyn ordered a sandwich she had never had before and inhaled it.  The menu had large glossy pictures of the food available and Lyn had chosen based off of one of the pictures.  Mom was stunned!  Lyn's been very restrictive of what she eats for years and is highly resistant to trying new foods.  Here she was ordering something new and enjoying it.  I mention this incident because I think it is another example of Lyn forgetting her preferences.

As for the respite provider's final observation of Lyn repeating responses other's have said, it strikes me that this may be a compensation or covering technique.  I see this with children who are unsure of the appropriate response to a situation.  In my experience, they will observe a situation and know a response is necessary.  However, if they are unsure of the right response, they will wait to see how others respond and, if the response does not invoke censure from others, the child will repeat the response that seems to be socially acceptable.  It is an interesting technique.


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