There's An I.D. Card in Charlie's Pocket and other reasons why riding bikes with him isn't like riding with any other teenager
It occurs to me that if you read only the most recent posts of this blog, you'd think Charlie does little other than ride his bike in sunny places in the Bay Area.
Charlie does ride his bike every day and Jim goes with him. Sunday, after sleeping in till 10.30am, Charlie called to get in the 'silver car,' with designs on going, as we had on Saturday, over the Bay Bridge. We decided to oblige and thence came Charlie's and Jim's first ride in San Francisco, from a parking lot beside the baseball stadium in China Basin, up through the Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf and onto Chrissy Field and nearing the Golden Gate Bridge (amid many tourists -- Charlie has gotten a lot of practice biking in crowds, thanks to rides on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, and wound his way amid them like a pro) and back again.
It was a tons of fun and a beautiful day and another great memory and the sort of things you wish could just go on forever.
Charlie is a great bike rider. But he can't ride on his own. Before every ride, Jim puts an I.D. card with ours and my parents' phone numbers on it and a simple statement about Charlie being autistic. He also has Charlie recite my cell number. It's all just in case but, you never know.
It's a project we haven't gotten at all too far with. Charlie needs to learn to bike with other people besides Jim.
They've had a few rides with others and Charlie does seem to enjoy the company. For someone else to be the one on the daily rides with Charlie is a much greater undertaking.
We took a first small step in the direction of this last Wednesday afternoon. A woman named Kristin from the Regional Center of the East Bay did intake on Charlie, to access him for services. Most of this happened while Charlie were out on their afterschool bike ride and involved her and me going over the form I had filled out (consulting Charlie's first-year calendar and the journal I kept -- I'm always glad I kept quite detailed records of Charlie from the very beginning).
She noted that the only document I'd supplied confirming Charlie's autistm diagnosis was an evaluation from the Child Development Center at the Minnepolis Children's Hospital in July of 1999. I said we didn't have anything more recent because, from then on, it had never been thought necessary to prove, or rather to re-prove, that Charlie is autistic. She assured me she could get this information from Charlie's New Jersey and California pediatricians and neurologists; I said I'd be glad to follow up with them too.
Charlie himself appeared at this point in the intake session and smiled at Kristin. It happened that Jim had left a bike glove in the garage. Charlie routinely puts all the gloves and helmets and such away after a ride and kept asking for 'orange glove' (it's really yellowish brown) and didn't let up his requests -- 'will this be an issue?' Kristin asked me and I, figuring it was as well for her to see Charlie as he is, said yes -- till he'd gone back to the garage with Jim and found the glove by a bike tire. Then he put everything away and readily assented to have his picture taken for his Regional Center file.
Among the services that we are seeking are an afterschool program, summer camp, and respite. I figure it's a bit early to say 'with a respite worker who can and likes riding bikes' -- in time.