February 18, 2008


It is now more than 5 years since Russ had his accident. Two weeks ago Russ completed his fifth and final cycle at Rusk Institute. It was a very happy time for us all. Russ did very well at Rusk. He has made a lot of progress in awareness, impulsivity, attention and concentration, information processing, communication with “Michael” (his keyboard), and flexibility at work. But I think the most important change is that Russ now actively seeks advice from George-Anne and I before making big decisions. This shows a huge improvement in awareness.


During the last two cycles, Russ participated in a work trial program at NYU hospital. He worked in two areas of the hospital, purchasing and admitting. In the purchasing department he acted as a troubleshooter for purchase orders that were kicked out of the system as a price discrepancy. He would double check the PO’s and search for the reason for the discrepancy. The supervisors said that Russ was doing well but his counselor at Rusk was afraid he might be a bit slow. So a test was arranged. One of the other employees in the department did the same thing as Russ for an hour and they compared results. Russ was quite pleased that his results were comparable to the other employee.


After a while in the purchasing department Russ asked if he could try an assignment that would have more interaction with people. He liked what he did in the purchasing department but likes to work with people more than computers. They found him an assignment in the admission department. This was a little more tricky. No one knew how Russ would be received by the patients since he had to use “Michael” to do his communicating. The job was to talk to people coming in for same day surgery. He would give them the paperwork they needed to fill out and information about where to go and what they needed to do next. Russ loaded what he needed to say into “Michael” ahead of time, made sure the information was grammatically correct including please and thank you’s and  played the phrases when needed. He would also communicate non standardized information on the spot. All in all it worked out well. Russ did a good job and communication was not a problem.


Russ is still very active in speech therapy. His progress is still very slow, painfully slow. But he is still making progress. At home he tries speaking to us all the time instead of going to “Michael” right away. Sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t. We are hoping that now that Russ has more time he will practice his speech more. I really think he can get to the point where he has functional speech but it is going to take a long time and a lot of practice. I am hoping Russ will plan with us when we can practice with him, and he is hoping to find a lady friend that will practice speech in addition to us.


When I look back two and a half years before he went to Rusk, I see a big difference. Russ wasn’t sure what was wrong. He was very impulsive and did a lot of things without thinking them through. We couldn’t give him any advice or talk about his impulsivity with him. Now he is very different. He understands that coaching is a good thing that can help him.


Now Russ is beginning to look for a job. He is not running out (impulsively) and looking for any job. He is considering his abilities and skills and looking for a good match. He knows he is not ready for a job that requires speech yet so he is looking for something where speech is not required for now. This way he can work and practice his speech at the same time. When his speech improves he can look for something better.


Thanks for supporting Russ as he continues his rehabilitation.