End of Semester Report
What's Big and Warm and Neon Chartreuse Yellow?

Going Somewhere

Dad's shoes / Charlie's shoes

It was all blustery wind and pelting rain as Charlie and I drove up to the Big Autism Center on Wednesday morning. We had gotten a late start as he had been slow to get out of bed; hard to blame him as the weather was the just the sort which makes curling up under the covers not only an attractive option, but the only seemingly viable one.

Charlie has continued to start the day by insisting on wearing his 'costume' (another Jim-ism for that blue shorts and green shirt). I usually leave a change of clothes right in front of the door and, after saying 'no,' Charlie has assented to change. I also try to say something like 'yeh, the blue shorts and green shirt are great but let's wear these other clothes today,' so his choice and preferences are validated; so that, hopefully, he does not feel like we parents are simply steamrolling over his wishes.

Certainly we did that in the past. Take the photo from yesterday of the three pairs of shoes and Charlie's iPad all arrayed in a neat square. I used to feel that we had to break up and change Charlie's lining up of things, to help him get out and beyond his 'rage for order.' Most behaviorists also encouraged us to do so and based on how, how, how very insistent Charlie was on keeping various items lined up according to the wood floorboards, it was important to teach him that things could be moved.

These days, Charlie does not react in that way when his stuff gets moved out of his order. So we leave his arrangements as they are. I sometimes get a clue about what Charlie is thinking from looking at the array: Jim's are the orange sneaks in the upper left beside the iPad, and the black Merrell slip-ons are Charlie's. The gray sneakers beside Charlie's own shoes are a pair he appropriated from my mom; Charlie has also been insisting on putting those shoes on his bed at night.

Other little signs of his being able to work around his own need/rage/insistence on order: While driving in the pouring rain on the highway yesterday morning, Charlie started to ask for a soda. There have been mornings when we have left quite early to take him to school and, sometimes, stopped at a convenience store or a bagel shop. Since we were late Wednesday, there was no time for any of that.

'Yeh, you're thirsty,' I said.

'Thirsty,' said Charlie. 'Thirsty.'

He said the word a couple times more as we headed towards our exit from the highway. There, Charlie---as he does most every morning---pointed ardently to the right and said 'this way, this way.' We have taken him for rides in that direction if there is time (such a ride takes us past some old haunts, as we lived in the town next to the Big Autism Center for three years). Again, there was no time for such Wednesday morning and when I quietly drove to the left towards the school, Charlie sat back in his seat and looked as if he were breathing something of a sigh of relief.

The rain was coming down super hard and fast as we pulled up to the school where a few aides were still waiting for buses. One woman beckoned us over and very kindly stood with the raindrops pinging off her plastic jacket as Charlie slowly got out of the white car.

I mentioned that I thought he might be thirsty. I watched Charlie, messenger bag over his shoulder, stride into school.

When he came home off the bus, Charlie made sure to place his black shoes at a proper angle to Jim's on the living room floor. After an afternoon of pleasant hanging-around-the-house, he was standing tapping this and that and that on his iPad when I heard my voice say

'Let's go somewhere.'

I had recorded that phrase on the Tap Speak Button app. Charlie repeated

'Let's go somewhere'

and I got right up and we did.

I'm not sure if he just tapped that phrase by chance. I've recorded several phrases and a list appears when you tap on the app. 'Let's go somewhere' is the first item in the list and Charlie, now used to tapping on lists of song titles from using the iPod app, must have just tapped on the number one item.

But he did really want to go somewhere, just as he said.......



Ok, I will be the first to ask, "Where did you go"?


If I can give him what he wants, I too respond to whatever request is given. If we don't, how are they going to learn to use language to communicate??

Little man's (9 today wow!!!) Teacher is also validating what he says and it's amazing how much more "speech" we all of a sudden have. Yes, we still have difficulty replying to WH questions but comments about this or that and an expectation that we listen....

In a regular classroom his comments would be either ignored entirely or deemed behavioural... she simply listens and responds appropriately.

Settles down that worry about pulling him out of the regular classroom.

Kristina Chew

Hope he had a happy birthday!

As to where we went: the grocery store, in the short run----in the longer sense of things, ah, now that is harder to say.......

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