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Holly Jolly Holiday Time, Uh Huh

Charlie waiting for Jim to return home from NYC for a bike ride

Thursday was the last day of school in 2010 for Charlie, as for many school children. Having been unable to sleep until 2am the night before, he was extremely groggy in the morning, dragged himself out the front door, and slammed the back car door shut after I had opened it at the Big Autism Center. I grabbed his book bag and the box of candy to pass out to his teachers and therapists and many others and, after opening his door a bit, started walking towards the entrance. I heard the thump of Charlie shutting the car door and then he was hurrying in besides me.

It was a good day. He had gym and a little party in his classroom and they watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. At home, Charlie had his usual big snack/post-lunch meal and then wanted a bike ride. He and I alternated between standing on the sidewalk looking towards the direction of the train station ten minutes away and running inside our house to warm up. When Jim texted me he was walking home, I made sure that Charlie knew, so he was on the sidewalk waiting to greet Jim (and request that he put on his yellow jacket and bike helmet). There was a brisk wind but they still rode for quite a few exhilarating miles.

And now it's the holidays, not a favorite time of the year for us and other families with children on the spectrum. Charlie goes back to school January 3rd and really just has a little over a week off which is all for the good, disruptions to the usual routine---in particular, school being closed---not being easy for him.

Thursday night, the everything of knowing he is on vacation, the fun but unusualness of family visiting for the holidays, lots of good things to eat, a lack of sleep for most of the past several days: From or with or because of all of this, Charlie went from smiling to worried to tense to stomping up and down with great force and running powerfully around the house and up and down the stairs.

He was in distress and we urged him to put on his sweatshirt and shoes and no sooner was the door open then Charlie had zoomed out of it, vocalizing loudly---which was good, as I, once I had yanked on my boots, knew quite well where he was.

Charlie ran to the field a block away from our house and kept running, me running too and glad as ever that I had decided to run cross-country years and years ago in high school. Jim pulled up in the white car near the elementary school Charlie first attended when we moved to this town. Charlie got right into the car, I stepped in a minute later, and we went home and Charlie, who we really need to get started running on a track to deal with his anxiety and taper off all of that energy, was cheerful and at ease. He listened to music and rummaged in the refrigerator and then took himself up to bed.

Not great, not easy, though with a very pleasant ending.

Much better than a year ago when we spent the better part of the day after Christmas at the ER.

As you probably guessed, we will be spending our share of time out of doors this holiday break. I have a new idea for a visual schedule and we'll see how it goes.

It's Camp Charlie, holiday session, right?


Evan Tasch

If you need an extra camper and counselor, let me know!!! All the best to Team Charlie now and always!


Could be worse. We were out 5 days in the pre-2weeks before Xmas. One of those we sent both of them to school. Eldest had the possibility of 4 of them... So one was officially out 4 days (little one) the other out 3. Those 3 the school's were closed, the rest the buses were cancelled.

Now we're off for 2 weeks. Have been off since Mon....

We're busy over the next few days so that'll help.

Estee Klar

I think there should be structured activity for children during this time. It doesn't make sense to me to have all this free time. Unless people are traveling, which most are not, it doesn't make sense. Hopefully we can clue in and make holiday time constructive with programs for not just our kids, but I'm quite sure many kids with nothing to do. We are not in the day and age when we used to go out and play all hours without supervision. Those days are gone.


Christmas is a difficult time for all kids. Sure, it's fun and exciting but they get all revved up, eat too may sugary treats, get anxious that they weren't "good"enough to get a visit from Santa (we downplayed the "You Better be Good for Goodness Sake" thing at our house) and before you know it, there are tears and sleeplessness.
My youngest son came into our room crying his heart out one Christmas Eve morning when he was about five because he woke up thinking it was Christmas Day and there was no stocking filled with goodies on his bedpost. He laughs about it now that he's almost 20 but at the time he was heartbroken.
So yeah, the holidays should be kept mellow and low-key.
And yes, track sounds like a wonderful idea for Charlie. Does his school have a track program?

Kristina Chew

I remember having two full weeks off from school. I really enjoyed it---spent most of it reading----though I was glad to get back to school.

@Estée, We used always to travel during the holidays and I realize how I depended on that to fill the time--just the travel alone swallowed up two days.

I think we've done a better job preparing for the break than in the past, but we'll see!

In particular, we've thought ahead to Charlie having anxiety about the disruptions to his schedule, and the fact that he doesn't have as much to do without school. Plus, we have to factor in bad weather. Wishing us all luck and peaceful-easy-feelingness.

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