Today, Kari was unable to make it to the Center because of her fellowship. So instead, I assisted another graduate student named Karen. Karen had me do my first naturalistic observation of a resident while he was at work. Karen is working on changing a target behavior, in this case, non-compliance. This particular resident had a lot of non-compliance complaints from his social worker while at work. Karen thought the resident was potentially bored, but was unsure. Karen had done one observation on him, but needed the assistance of someone else he didn’t know to watch him so that he would “act normal”. The observation took place on a Friday when the residents were not assigned to do any contract work. The observation lasted an hour and I noted five or so instances of the resident leaving his work space and wandering to talk to someone else. There was one instance of not listening to his social worker tell him to sit down, however, I noted, that the social worker had been across the room when she informed the resident to sit. The workshop is a rather large space and very noisy, even when there is no work to be done. I believe the resident did not hear the social worker the first time due to the noise and distance between the social worker and the resident. I also noted one period of extended absence where I was unsure of where he went to. This particular resident is known for wondering off and not coming back unless fetched by his social worker. I informed Karen of this, but also said it was my belief that he had gone to the restroom as it was a period of about five to ten minutes that he was gone. Karen agreed with this. The most important information I gathered from the observation was almost at the end of the hour when the resident stated “I’m bored” to his friends, thus affirming Karen’s belief that the resident’s non-compliance was solely out of boredom, which unfortunately is not a behavior we can change.
After the observation and discussion of results, Karen and I discussed the lack of mental health care for contract workers (who develop PTSD symptoms) in Iraq and Afghanistan during the war. The reason this was brought up was because my dad was a contract worker during the war in Baghdad and in Afghanistan and now complains about flash backs and lack of sleep among other things. We found a clinic in California who stated they provided mental health care specifically for contract workers. We also read up on some court cases in various states. One judge actually stated it was not the responsibility of the health insurance provider to provide services for contract workers as “they were never in any real danger, actual or perceived”. Although comments like this infuriate me, I did find the entire research process very informative.