Charlie will be back in school next Tuesday and Thursday he and I started working the transition in full force.
I made a Back to School social story using Stories2Learn on Charlie's iPad---my very nice aunts read this SFWeekly article about how the iPad has helped my friend Shannon's son Leo so much and decided that Charlie must have one. So thanks to my aunts and also my parents, I hied me over to the Apple store last week and exited all iPad'd up.
My first goal was to make a social story about going back to school for Charlie and I did so yesterday morning. Jim had gone to teach and Charlie was up at his usual time. He smiled and said 'no' to a walk and then paced as I had several 'duh' moments putting together the social story on the iPad. You can upload photos, text, and sounds on Stories2Learn and as I was recording myself saying 'I am going back to school,' Charlie said 'no, no school, no'---not a surprising thing to hear Charlie say.
However much he likes school (or anything or anyone, indeed), returning to that place or seeing that person again after a (fairly long) absence makes him anxious. I think Charlie says 'no' as that's his initial, emotional response ('no, I'm just not ready yet'). Given some time to think things through, and just given some time, Charlie is ok encountering said place or person, and it's important (as I've learned through often painful experience) that his expressing of his worry needs to be acknowledged and validated. So rather than us responding 'oh no, you like school' (I mean, how do I know, really, I'm just a mom), I do my nod and uh-hum and mmmmm.
I also kept yesterday iPading and showed Charlie the result. It usually takes him a bit to warm to new things (certainly to new devices) and I could tell he was thinking 'oh no, now what is she trying on me.' He definitely followed the 'Back to School' story, and the combination of visuals and sound, and the ease of tapping (once I showed Charlie where to tap) seems to appeal to him. (Whereas, when we show Charlie a piece of paper with more than 4 or 5 items on it, I'm never quite sure how much he absorbs.)
I've installed some simple spelling and reading programs on the iPad, too, and have been enjoying procrastinating prepping the territorial expansion of the Roman Republic by app-browsing on Moms With Apps and Apps for Autism and Swiss Miss's iPad selections. (I'm sure, though, that you would be able to resist trying out demos for doodling apps and in favor of reading up on the Lex Canuleia.) I've been weighing the pros and cons of various apps that turn the iPad into an augmentative communication device. ProLoquo2Go is a bit pricey (especially for something that Charlie might only sporadically use). There's also Minspeak and iCommunicate and TapToTalk.
And yes, we will 'let' Charlie use the iPad for fun too.
After talking about going back to school, Charlie and I drove up to his school and all around it. He looked the building over very solemnly. He had an early lunch (well, we hadn't really bothered with breakfast---we are still on lazy summer mode) and went up to his room and proceeded to nap till Jim came home.
This transition stuff, it can take a lot out of a boy.
Too, Charlie may have just wanted to rest up prior to another serious bike ride (and in 94 degree heat). Jim rested, we got the bikes loaded, and out we went to the Jersey horse country trail that Jim thinks is their favorite. They went 15 miles with Charlie choosing the path: He led them first (gunning, I mean pedaling furiously, his bike) to a convenience store for a cold drink, then to a road by the river, and then to a part of the trail that is nice and shady.
Summer isn't quite over yet and I have to say (and very oddly for me, who usually am counting the days till Charlie's school starts so we can all return to the usual school structure; plus I do not like the heat) I kind of wish this one won't end.
Huge huge thanks PLUS to Aunt Anna, Aunt Mal, and GongGong and PoPo!