As I have noted before, not all of the individuals that attend The Bridge have dementia. Nor are all of them seniors. One attendee, who does not have dementia and is only in his early fifties, has schizophrenia. I often think about how to best serve his needs. Maintaining cognitive thinking is paramount. I started to think about the Montessori materials that I have at my home and whether these might help support this goal. The idea of presenting language materials kept coming back to me.
I knew that he enjoyed seeing the pictures of newborn babies in the local, daily newspaper. I also knew that there were two, small, rubber babies in my singular / plural language box tucked away in my back closet. I went and got that out yesterday morning.
But before I brought it from my home to The Bridge, I picked it up and put it down over and over again. I kept asking myself if the material was appropriate to offer to an adult. I finally shoved it into the bottom of my purse and told myself, "Susan, just believe in the method. Believe in it."
When this specific person arrived today, I invited him to join me in a one-on-one activity at a table in the dining area. He accepted. We sat down side by side. I placed the Montessori language box on the table between us ( I had it in my sweater pocket). I lifted it up to my face and peeked inside it in a sort of mysterious way. I told him there were some lovely things inside of it. I asked him if he wanted to look inside, too. He said he did.
I slid it across the table to him. He held it in his hands and then carefully lifted the lid and looked inside. He told me that there were babies in it and that they were real small. They were. I then placed two words on the table (These were also in my sweater. I know. I know. This is a highly, modified version of the Montessori method.). The words were singular and plural. I asked him to define each word for me. He did so easily.
I then removed all of the labels from the box and placed them in vertical rows. One row had the singular terms. The other had the plural ones.
Again I closed the lid on the box and passed it over to him. Again I asked him to peek inside. I asked him what he saw. He answered "Frogs." I invited him to take one of the frogs out of the box and as he was only taking one, to place it under the word "singular." He did this. The small size of the items captured his attention. This was a point of interest.
After taking out the first frog, I asked him to take out the second one. I then stated and asked, "Now there are two frogs. Should you put it under the word "singular" or the word "plural" ?"
He instantly answered, "plural." He then placed it there. We continued in this manner with all of the remaining objects and labels.
After he repeated the activity/work, I invited him to put the objects and their labels back into the box. I then showed him that it was kept on the shelf in the backroom. After it was put away, I told him that it was now available for him to use whenever he wanted. I also assured him that he did not have to ask a staff person to assist him in taking it. He could do so independently.