Ruby had a wide range of learning difficulties, including auditory processing problems and literacy difficulties, coupled with a tendency for organisational problems, avoidance and procrastination. Homework assignments and sports kit were the main problems with this student. She would forget to bring in both on regular occasions despite warnings, punishments and all the positive reinforcement mechanisms known to the school staff.
Discussions between school staff, Ruby and her parents were inconclusive, until one day, in frustration, Ruby broke down and sobbed: ‘It’s just too much to do altogether!’ It transpired that Ruby simply did not want to carry two bags to school. Her solution to not having a single bag big enough to accommodate all she needed to take to school had been to compromise by taking some homework, certain items of her sports kit and part of her lunch, as long as it would all fit in the same single bag. The solution to the school’s problem only arrived when Ruby received a birthday gift of a bigger school bag from her Grandmother.
Ruby was infamous in school for her laconic attitude to life and was known for her alternative views on many subjects and in particular the issue of timekeeping. One of her stock answers was that The problem with my parents is that they make me go to bed in the evening when I am not tired and then they get me up in the morning when I am tired!’
It was not just the problems of getting her up, dressed and out to school in this particular case. Ruby had a habit of literally falling asleep on the train on her way to school. This happened on at least five different occasions and what should have been a 40-minute train journey became a 3-hour round trip. To prevent this happening again Ruby was provided with an alarm watch, checked by her parents every morning that would activate one station before her stop. This appeared to work well.