For most of her life, Linda has never handled money. As an adult with Williams Syndrome she was, typically, very poor with any numerical concepts. Counting up in ones was about the limit of her skills.
When it came to money, every item in the world could be bought with a one pound coin or dollar bill. There was no perceived difference in value and no concept of price.
Over the last year we’ve worked hard on this with Linda, working through basic numeracy skills and things have improved slowly. I guess this highlights the fact that people with Williams Syndrome do have individual differences in abilities and also that their skills can often be developed with patient, individualised attention and a personal development programme or teaching method.
We’ve also been giving Linda small quantities of her own money to manage so she’s had the opportunity to put theory into practice.
Sometimes it’s been tough. A weeks worth of pocket money spent on the first moment she left the house not under our direct supervision. Newspapers, magazines, key-rings, in fact anything that could be exchanged for cash.
There have been long conversations explaining “This amount is for lunch, this for newspapers, this for your swimming session…” Time and time again we have seen failure as the total was spent during the first meal break.
But slowly and surely she is learning.
She can now pretty much manage her own cash supply for up to three days ahead, a small but highly significant improvement. This means she gets her spending money twice a week.
On holiday for two weeks she also has money to manage and none of her normal living expenses – so the most important focus of her life becomes the Souvenir Shop<\strong>.
Can she grasp the idea that if she saves money she can buy a higher value object?
For the first ten days we’ve struggled with this. Each time the desire to spend something, now, has proved more urgent.
That is until today. This morning she spotted a multicoloured xylophone. This has caught her attention, she is focussed and determined to save the amount required for this worthy prize.
The fact that ten days into the holiday she has no chance to save the required amount of money in time leaves me with a more difficult decision to make.
I should be used to this by now!