The Need to Know (#541)
Neurodiversity Is More Than Skin Deep (#543)

Charlie's Web (#542)

As I have written before, Charlie is not a watcher of TV---for the past few months we have been having him simply practice watching the computer screen for a few minutes, usually by showing him websites with music and animation. He does seem to enjoy seeing movies in the theater, with the help of popcorn and a couple of walks in the back and the aisle. Movies that have a lot of music and color hold his attention a bit more: Once upon a time he was a stalwart fan of Barney, the Teletubbies, and the Wiggles, and what I remember (from all the videos I sat through for the nteenth time, asking questions of Charlie) is, indeed, the colors of the various foursomes and those songs.
Charlie smiling
Fruit salad! Yummy yummy.
Oh we are flying in an airplane looking out the window.....
Say heh-low! Eh-oh!
Yummy yummy.

Times have changed, Greg has left the Wiggles, and Dance with the Teletubbies is now on sale, used, at our town library for 50 cents. And I no longer know just what visual fare will catch Charlie's eye.

Charlie does like to watch a computer slideshow of the photos on my laptop, with music (a blues tune is his current favorite). He watched that tonight (over a few clementines) and then sat looking at the now-still screen. I came to sit next to him and went to a page with movie trailers. Eragon was dark and brown with just a few splashes of red, Very Serious Dialogue about Good and Evil. Bridge to Terabithia had more light, with lots of nature scene, and a rather confusing array of computer-animated woodland creatures (a walking tree drew an alarmed look onto Charlie's face). I clicked on Charlotte's Web---Trailer 2, a longer version---and Charlie, eyes big, sat still and focused and leaned forward when we went to the official movie site.

A pig, a horse, four sheep. A barn, yellow ducklings, a rat. A ferris wheel.

I remembered the plastic barn set and the pairs of mama and baby horses, cows and sheep, and the single pig and chicken I had bought in St. Paul, and with such a thrill. Charlie, several weeks into his intense in-home ABA program, was going to learn to play with toys other than the set of plastic stacking cups he built up, he took down, he built up, he took down, over, over, and over, and over again. Charlie was going to play with a real toy.

The college students who were his first ABA therapists loved to sit with Charlie and the barn after having spent the weeks teaching him to sit in the chair and imitate the dropping of blocks into buckets and how to wave. "Old McDonald had a farm," we sang. "Farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell!" "Buck buck," we made the chicken say.

Charlie followed our lead, hitching the little wagon to the horse and stacking the bales of plastic hay in the barn. On his own, all the animals, the wagon, and the hay bales were set in one long and careful line. After learning to play a game we knew as Farm Families, Charlie got in the habit of lining up the mama and the baby animals and singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm," and that was all, unless we sat with him and drew him to do something else. The barn was long ago passed onto another young child or, I suppose, Charlie would still be lining up the animals and singing "Ee-eye-ee-eye-oh" and mooing and oink-oinking.

But the apparatus of the farm---the animals on their barn and the simple activities of animal-farm-play and his liking for it, gently evoked by those college girls, stuck. Charlie's eyes always perk up a bit when flashcards or a book or, in the case of Charlotte's Web, a movie offers those old friends.

Those old animal friends who are still part of Charlie's own web.


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