Sue's social worker called yesterday to say that Sue had escaped the group home. Escaped, gotten lost, had an outing--it all depends on how you see it.
Sue is R's sister with Down's Syndrome. When she still used to live by herself in an apartment, she would make weekly outings to the shopping mall, have a plate of fries, sometimes get her hair cut, buy a shopping bag full of dollar-store finds.
There's no shopping close the group home where she lives now, and since she had a cerebral bleed last summer, she's under doctor's orders not to leave the home unattended. She knows that, but the old yen to trawl through a store, maybe shoplift whatever she doesn't have the money to buy (thousands-upon-thousands-of-stolen.html), have a Pepsi and a bag of chips wins over her wobbly sense of what she should and shouldn't do. I suspect that what guides her behaviour is what she feels she can get away with. When her desire is stronger than her fear of being found out, she takes a gamble.
Two days ago the spring weather called her. Off she went--with one of her various hats squashed on her head. She never goes outside, not even in the summer, without a hat. Her gait isn't steady because she's disproportionately wide for her very small feet. If I remember correctly, they're size 4. She found her way out of the warren of residential streets that surround the group home onto a street with some shops. She found a Mr. Sub and had a sandwich.
But then she didn't know how to get home again. We don't know the rest of the story--how it was that the police brought her back to the group home. If she admitted that she was lost or if the police stopped to ask her. The social worker has no details, and Sue doesn't want R to know, so R hasn't asked her what happened. In any case, Sue would say that she doesn't remember. That's her usual tactic when she doesn't want to discuss her behaviour.
Otherwise the situation at the group home is stable... as stable as possible, given that Sue isn't sociable and she's living in a group environment. She spends most of the day in her room, which is large and well-lit. She has her reclining armchair, her bed, her TV, her photos, her stuffed cutesy geegaws on all the shelves and surfaces and even tacked to the walls, her knitting, her mots cachés (what is that in English? word search puzzles? ... a jumble of letters and a list of words that have to be found in the jumble).
She likes the room and her space. She objects to having to go downstairs to the dining room for meals. She complains that when she wants to take the elevator, she has to get on with someone in a big blocky wheelchair. There's enough room for Sue and a wheelchair in the elevator, but she doesn't like having to stand to the side. She feels no empathy for elderly people confined to a wheelchair. Reasoning with her, suggesting that some day she might be in a wheelchair, etc etc is wasted breath. After years of watching Sue, I think empathy is a fairly low-functioning facility among intellectual deficients. She only feels it to a certain small extent when she already likes the person. If she doesn't like the person, forget it.
She has had to be moved around the dining room to many different tables because she grumbles about every grouping. At that table, she doesn't like the woman who asks questions. At that table, there's a woman who is too cheerful. Sue has been moved around the dining room so often that she's now at the last table. The problem here is that one of the men wears a watch that ticks too loudly.
R has explained to Sue several times that there is nowhere else for her to sit. Her meals are not going to be served in her room. The staff at the group home have done what they can to try to oblige her. It's not possible to get her to understand that she's the problem. R finally told her to suck it up. She thought the man's watch was too loud? Too bad.
I'll have more to report when Sue comes to visit. She used to come to spend her birthday but she didn't like staying with us. She had her own room with a double bed. She could sleep until noon. We brought her to a shopping mall. R took her out for pizza and fries. I made her a chocolate cake with whipped ganache frosting and brandied cherries. I don't know if Sue can tell the difference between a real cake and an IGA cake, but I don't want to eat a piece of IGA cake.
However, we don't have cable. Sue misses her soap operas too much. The soap opera characters are her friends. She feels more for them than for anyone in the group home. She needs to know what they're doing in the same way that someone checks up on their friends on Facebook. Soap operas are Sue's form of social networking.
When she comes to stay with us, her good humour with the adventure lasts 24 hrs max. Then she starts to get resentful and downright nasty. I understand that she's in major soap opera withdrawal, but I don't accept that someone who stays here, even someone who is intellectually deficient, should cover her eyes when I walk into a room because she doesn't want to see me. This is where I live. I belong here.
We'll see how long she behaves this time. We'll see how long before I lose my cool.
Here's a picture from the last time she stayed with us. She's waiting for me to fry an egg for her breakfast. Easy over and woe to me if I break the yolk. Notice her necklace, choker, watch, and rings, all of which she made sure where in place before she left me snap a picture.