12 Miles---Makes That 16
Déjà vu at the new school

Music & Memories & Goodnight Moon

Charlie leaving Barnes & Noble on his bike Since throwing away his iPod last month, Charlie has not once asked for it. Originally I kept it semi-hidden in a corner of our bedroom (just in case he really did still want it), but after about a week, I went to check on it one day and found it wasn't there. A search of our household did not turn up the little blue rectangle or the noise-cancelling headphones attached to it: It must really be gone. Jim and I have been inclined to think that Charlie's disposal of the iPod has something to do with his understanding around that time that it was not thought he should be in his current classroom. It was in that classroom that Charlie had really started using the iPod a lot and that he developed a taste for Coldplay, as an aide had brought in a CD. Perhaps it's a sign of how strongly he associates music and sounds with people, places, things, situations, that the iPod is gone, and not asked after.

Over the past month, Charlie has continued to ask to hear music. He has shown a definite preference for CDs. This has not been a surprise, as CDs---like the cassette tapes Charlie used to find no matter how carefully hidden they were---give him something to touch, see, get his fingers on, in ways that mp3 files don't offer. Charlie had gotten perfectly proficient at using many of the iPod's controls but I don't think it was ever the same for him as having shiny round CDs (and dull black or white or green plastic tapes before that). For several days after no more iPod he handed us the same Louis Jordan CD every time we got in the car and, while it was fun to drive around New Jersey listening to the trumpet and the boogie-woogie, too much of anything, and especially too much music has been known to have a swift and awing (and occasionally awful) effect on Charlie. It's as if he has the thinnest of filters, or rather no filter, mediating between him hearing the music and whatever memories or thoughts he associates it with and sometimes things go boom crash, not good.

So we have been sticking to the radio which has many advantages (we've no control over what might be played, beyond turning the dial) and disadvantages (lotsa ads replete with lotsa talk). It's become apparent that Charlie likes jazz and blues (that trumpet sound....), and rock 'n' roll though not pop. (And sorry, Mom-NOS, not country, but Bud's got that covered!) For that matter, Charlie isn't very drawn to anything classical before 20th atonality; I like to sneak in some worldbeat sounds if I can find them.

Charlie's once-again requests for CDs and DVDs is pretty much for ones that he's had before and that have been discarded and/or lost to scratches, sticky fingers, and his parents feeling that enough is enough. Given the big change ahead of Charlie----this will be his last week at the public middle school---it's not surprising that he's been seeking comfort in old familiar songs and sounds. This was why Jim called me at ten minutes after 9 this morning to tell me that Charlie had directed him to ride bikes to a certain Barnes and Noble. I got in the car and found the two of them deep in the DVD section, Jim checking out a boxed set of Spaghetti Westerns and Charlie big-eyed and searching. For something.

"Goodnight Moon," he said.

Charlie and I looked through every DVD in the children's section, and every CD too. I led him to the children's books area and found (hidden behind Little Bear) a book and CD set of Goodnight Moon: "No," said Charlie. And back he led me to the DVD/CD section where he and I went through the Bargain Bin and I sighted.......Goodnight Moon and other sleepytime tales. This was once Charlie's absolute most favorite DVD and we've had a couple of copies, some hastily ordered from Amazon. After the last one ended up in a crack in the floor (long story there), Jim and I told Charlie that he's d have to do without. 

On the Irish Waterfront at our local Barnes & Noble

But with this big school change ahead, we've both been viscerally aware of Charlie's need for security. And so we bought the DVD.

 Charlie was serious as we walked out of the store (after, of course, checking to see that they have Jim's book). He and Jim rode off under assurances that I was INDEED BRINGING THE DVD HOME but on a certain fateful bridge something---Charlie's thoughts, worries, fixation on that DVD?---got the better of him and it was stormy and I felt really stupid for not having driven home in the same direction.

Jim handled it all fine and told me to stay put at home when I said I'd come to find them. The whole thing had lasted five minutes. Charlie did not ask for the new DVD after he and Jim came back from their ride. After picking it up off the table where I'd left it, he opened the DVD case and pulled out the paper insert listing the different tracks. He gave this to me and then asked to hear his Disney CD.

That was the first of three times we listened to it Sunday. Charlie asked to hear "Disney" again after lunch and then after dinner. Consequently, ringing in my mind still are Tarzan effusing about "Strangers Like Me," Mulan sighing in her "Reflection," Quasimodo wondering what is "Out There," Pocahantas yearning for what is "Just Around the Riverbend" and King Louie making it clear "I Wan'na Be Like You." Charlie hasn't seen any of these movies; he's long had trouble tracking cartoons and still tends to misidentify the subject of drawings. He definitely is drawn to some of those Disney songs and, while it's always hard to know exactly how many of the words he understands, I've been wondering if he's been so into hearing those songs as each character is at some turning point in their life, on the cusp of maturity and finding out "who am I?"

(If I may overread Disney pop songs a bit. I have been listening to them for all of a long weekend!).

In the third round of Disney listening, Charlie popped open the CD player as Julie Andrews was launching into "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and betook himself to bed at 7.30pm. He was soon asleep, without any melatonin, and who knows what songs, and sounds, in his dreams.

You know what I've got playing in mine.



Oh Julie Andrews!!! Even my husband now knows all the songs from Mary Poppins:-)

Although we saw, and Dimitri enjoyed, UP last weekend, he really likes movies with real people, cartoons and CG animation are often too fast. It can be odd for him though, if he hears a song associated with a movie out of it's usual context.

How soon to change of school?


Patrick was never much for Disney movies, but he was often a fan of the music.

Aside from Mary Poppins (which I could do quite well without ever seeing again, as Patrick once watched it every day for 3 years; not even Mary Poppins can stand up to that) the only -- only -- animated Disney movie that's captivated him is "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

At the time, Patrick was just hitting his teens, and I've long suspected that he identified rather strongly with Quasimodo, particularly in "Out There."

(As for me, I always strongly identified with Belle as she waxed rhapsodic over books, but also Arielle in "Part of Your World," Mulan in "Reflection," and "The Age of Not Believing," from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which I've never seen, but discovered on a Sherman Brothers CD.)


We never pushed Disney... truth is I don't think it's appropriate for small children.

Now they aren't interested.

Maybe later.


Has Charlie heard any of the children's songs by They Might Be Giants," such as "Here Come the 123s," "Here Come the ABCs," or "Her Comes Science"? TMBG, the ultimate geeky rock band, never talk down to kids in their music. They have a lot of very clever videos available on YouTube, and the albums are available as DVDs as well as CDs.

The tunes are quite catchy,. If Charlie likes trumpet, he might like "Sevene Dys of the Week," which features trumpet prominently. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etw5vknZEPw

Kristina Chew

Next Monday, November 16, is the Big Day. Just got back from an interesting visit (in a positive sense).

Thanks for all the music suggestions! Charlie really seems drawn to the bits of Jim's music collection that we have floating around----jazz and blues and he seems to like some of the earlier stuff. We heard Coldplay over the speakers in the grocery store and Charlie covered his ears with his hands, smiled, didn't asked for them at home.

We've also never been to Disneyland/world with Charlie.

If it weren't for Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I wouldn't know what "Portobello Road" is........


I know your interpretation of Charlie throwing away the ipod is because he may think he doesn't deserve to have it (I think that is what you said) because he felt he was being told he didn't belong in the classroom. But I wonder if his associations with that class are so strongly negative that he *wants* to give up anything that reminds him of it. Either way, it is a strong statement.


Can you ask Charlie where the iPod went? As a near teen, maybe he'd enjoy some illustrated novels or Japanese manga? I'm thinking "Goodnight Moon" may be too babyish for a young man of Charlie's age.
Also, has he been to Liberty Science Center? He might enjoy the IMAX or the 3-D theater.


C only likes the newer Pixar disney movies like Wall-e, Happy Feet, Cars, and Finding Nemo- he hasn't liked the more "traditional" Disney films. He also really likes Studio Ghibli films. Not very interested in listening to music without video accompaniment, though.

Bonnie Sayers (autismfamily)

Yesterday when we arrived at the location for KEEN - next door to LA Police Academy and down street from Dodgers we heard music and saw several drummers playing in a parking lot and then another area more musicians. Another Mom said it was easy to get her girl out into the walk in line due to the music. Matt did not do a lot of hiking as he stayed close by to the music. Behavior instructor said I should take him to a music store to see if interested in drums before buying - guess that was our store yesterday and bongos will be holiday gift.


Of course the story of Barnes & Noble, buying a dvd, and the Disney music all are very familiar to me and made me smile :-)

How do you and Jim handle it when Charlie asks for things that you just don't want him to have anymore/don't think are "good" for him anymore? Henry will hound us for certain activities, dvds, books, etc. and it is so hard to tell him "no", even though we think he needs a break from that perseveration.

Kristina Chew

@Christine, that's what I have been thinking too about the iPod. It's in the works to get him a new one for Xmas and I'm curious about what he might think.

@Jill, I can ask Charlie but his responses will be based on what words he can call up....yes, Goodnight Moon and the like are for a child much younger than Charlie; I think he's negotiating how he feels about things that are for younger kids and those----like Coldplay---that are more his age. He hasn't been terribly interested in Liberty Science Center and I suspect an IMAX film might overwhelm him from a sensory perspective. Someday, perhaps.

Dwight F

Maybe if the iPod isn't blue, or it's a different physical form than the old Nano, it would help break the association? One of the little Shuffles? Those are pretty darn sturdy. The iPod Touch less so and it's pricy, though there are interesting visual options with it (games).

Re:radio ads, there is certainly something to be said for satelite radio if there is budget for it. The wife drives upwards of 2hrs/day and her car came with an XM reciever, so she has it. It's hard to go back to AM/FM after not having to deal with the yak-yak-yak plus having huge selection range that is fairly clearly labeled. On the downside you are a little more disconnected from the ongoings in your local community.

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