Snow Be Gone, Let School Begin
On Being Active

Growing Up and Getting It: Conversing with Charlie


Charlie couldn't sleep on Sunday: Too excited at the prospect of going back to school after the winter break.

Consequently, he was very groggy at 7.30am Monday morning. But he got up and into the car and he and I headed off to the Big Autism Center in very good order. 

Our wake-up mechanisms are deliberately non-intrusive: Opening the shades to Charlie's room, turning on some music (jazz---Miles Davis---has been a good choice, less so the Kinks). These days, Jim (channeling memories of his own boyhood when he'd be so excited about school the next day! that he couldn't sleep all night) has a very co-sympathetic way of rousing Charlie. As the Mom Who Said 'Time To Wake Up' Once Too Much, I tend to step back and listen to Jim's friendly 'hey pal' and 'you gotta hear Phil!'.

Charlie's older and growing up, highly attuned to 'Dad's this way and Mom's that way.' And I'm glad of it. However little and limited his language and talking, whatever he scores on the standardized tests, Charlie is no 'toddler in a teenage body.' He's a teenager, through and through.

Monday, as Charlie and I approached his school, I expected him to say---in contradiction to his previous days' insistence about getting to school---'no school no school, all done,' or some such. This has happened quite a bit in the past and, after uttering his protest/last-minute anxiety, Charlie usually handles going into school all right. Monday, as we turned into the Big Autism Center's driveway, I caught a glimpse of Charlie smiling broadly in the rear view mirror. He didn't say a word as we drove past the long line of buses and bus-minivans. An aide came right out and Charlie, after making sure the strap on his schoolbag was fastened, went right in and had a good day.

The afternoon at home was good, too. Charlie called for a bike ride and---well, do you think he and Jim went out and pedaled in 28 degrees?

What else have they been doing?

Once home (very rosy-cheeked from the cold), Charlie started calling for the airport. He picked up his iPad and pulled up a photo of an airplane I had found, to use in the social story about my parents visiting. It was just about two weeks ago that we had picked them up at the airport.

And Charlie had put a suitcase in the back of the car Monday morning.

Jim proposed driving to the airport, as 'practice.' 'Airport' said Charlie. I grabbed our coats and into the car and up the Garden State Parkway we went, and round to Terminals A, B, and C.

'Arrivals or departures, Cha, what do you think?' asked Jim.


'Airplane,' said Charlie.

In days gone past, we would have found this little adventure more than foolhardy. Charlie then would have expected that, as we were going to the airport, there would my parents be. But last night, as we drove past the baggage claim areas (Jim had chosen to drive us through Departures), I said words to the effect of 'you know, Charlie, you know what's going on.'

And he did. Of course Charlie knew that my parents had just left last week and that they won't be back for a bit---that has been the case since he was a baby. Just going to the airport, just seeing and just talking about airplanes, doesn't mean that Gong Gong and Po Po will show up at Door 4 or whatever.

'Practice,' said Jim again as we were finishing our tour de l'aéroport Newark. 'Home and bedtime.'

'No home,' said Charlie. And, 'no bed.'

Soon as we pulled up into the driveway it was:

'Bedtime.' And, 'no iPad'----a request, or rather more of an order, that we leave it in the car, the better to be ready to drive to school tomorrow.

Though just in case you were wondering, I did bring the iPad inside, wrapped up in our coats. It needs a full recharge every night, not to mention some scrubbing of the screen.


Hai Dang

You do not want to leave the iPad in the car. :) I wish your team of three a Happy New Year. I remember for many years, my wife and I took our children to the airport almost everyday just to see airplanes taking off and landing. We brought with us PECS to teach them while they were watching airplanes. It would be nice if we had an Ipad at the time.


Kristina Chew

I think we might be on our way to a similar series of airport visits..... have you an iPad or other device now?

Just had to lock the iPad in the car again as Charlie wanted to leave it in there. Fortunately our front door is right next to the driveway.

Hope you and your family have a great year!

Hai Dang

We do not own an iPad. But my oldest son (16) has a netbook. Of course, it is not touch screen like the iPad. He uses mouse and keyboard.

Kristina Chew

Charlie again left his iPad in the car. He does better with a device with as few moveable parts as possible.

Barbara Boucher, OT, PhD, PT

I have to admit, I had to read well into this post to figure out what that was in the photo.

I so enjoy reading about your family's life, Kristina. I expect few bloggers believe me, but I can relate to so much of what I read of parenting a child with a diagnosis despite our children being entirely undiagnosed.

Heh - you just tweet something about being on break. Did you get followed by GuacamoleU, too, after our tweet-exchange yesterday?

Kristina Chew

I don't think i've got GuacamoleU following me---though I haven't checked recently!

Charlie has been stacking up his lunchboxes like that. After emptying out the plastic containers and anything else.

Always great to hear from you---

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