Day of Three Bike Rides
03 April 2011
Charlie was glad to go on every one of the three bike rides he did with Jim on Sunday. As I've often noted, he loves to be in motion. He's been riding with more ease, and faster, since Jim changed the gears on his bike.
Sunday morning's ride in New Jersey horse country was preluded by Charlie hurrying out of the car, seemingly eager to choose a breakfast item at a 'general store' in the town near the bike trail. But once in the store, he dashed to the counter and tried to throw a plate.
It all happened in about five seconds and Charlie was quickly directed to the front of the store and out the door without anything else happening. We felt terrible, as Charlie had been doing fine looking around the store and waiting in line on previous occasions, though certain looks suggested that his presence was not the most welcome. We won't be going back.
It's, how to put it?, the really painful side of all of this 'autism awareness' business. Many had been aware of us in the store, and of Charlie's being different, but such awareness does not always translate into acceptance. In times past, I would have felt a need to do a lot of explaining about what had happened and what autism is and much more. Now, I think the best thing to do is to clear out of any trouble spots and move on-- to let it go--and we did.
Charlie and Jim did ten miles on the lovely bike trail and we reflected how it is always better for Charlie to be out under the wide open space of the sky. The narrow aisles and glass cases of the general store must have felt confining to him. He had asked to go in, as if he has some unappeasable urge to go where he has a feeling he should not, and then something happens. It's our job to be on the lookout for when he's sensing such, and avoid places where trouble can (and did) occur.
But things on the bike path were good. Jim related that Charlie cried for the first half of the ride --lagthen cheered up--smiley, Jim quickly texted me--on the way back, which was uphill.
Sunday was so sunny and bright, we thought it well to take advantage of the fine weather. Charlie had only rested at home a short time when he asked to get back in the car. At first he sat and doggedly waited watching the numbers on the Giant Timer iPad app scroll by. Then we gently encouraged another bike ride--and, after several no's, Charlie was ready to ride four more miles.
Charlie asked for ride #3 all on his own, after dinner. The sun was just starting to set and he and Jim really enjoyed one more tour around the neighborhood, to make it a 40+ mile weekend.
To no one's surprise, Charlier was hungry afterwards. He heated up some frozen fries and grinned when I pulled out a watermelon and cut it up. At 9.30, he looked at the front door and said 'yes,' indicating that he wanted to go out again. We told him we would, to go to school Monday morning. Charlie went upstairs and brought down his iPad, and asked me to get his blue blanket. He stretched out on the big black Ikea couch and fell asleep, across the room from where Jim and I were sitting.
I'll hazard to say, I think he likes to be near us.
We try and avoid unfriendly places, not worth the trouble. I like that Charlie placed himself close by as he was relaxing. It's good just to be near the ones you love.
Posted by: emma | 03 April 2011 at 22:02
my son always needs to fall asleep by us or me every night.He rarely falls asleep in his bed....he is still small enough to be carried into bed.
I have been in similar situation where we have gotten stares and looks..it still bothers me and I figure I will eventually be able to "brush" it off.
We also aviod many places and situations that will set him off...
Does Charlie seem to get anxious about seperating from you and Jim? My son gets very anxious every sunday because he knows school is coming the next day. Just wondering if you have ecperienced any of that with your son.
Thanks for sharing your posts. I feel "good" to know other people are in the same shoes as I am.
Posted by: Sarab | 03 April 2011 at 22:46
it spelled my name wrong :>) sorry.
Posted by: Sarah | 03 April 2011 at 22:47
I'm sorry Charlie had a bad moment in the general store. It doesn't seem like there was any harm done. Storekeepers who run little country establishments are used to odd things happening. One of my husband's bike riding friends took a nap behind a country store during a long ride, overslept and was awakened by the owner who was opening up the place. Instead of calling the cops the store owner treated him to coffee and eggs.
It seems a shame to never return to the store, especially if Charlie enjoyed going there.
Posted by: Jill | 04 April 2011 at 04:27
It's a country general store that now is in a 'well-off' town---quirks seem to stand out a bit much in it!
I think Charlie initially liked going to the store but after finding out more about it, maybe less so.
Posted by: Kristina Chew | 04 April 2011 at 10:11
Charlie slept all night on the couch! He woke around 7am and went up to his bed so we were a little late getting out the door. Great day, though.
Posted by: Kristina Chew | 04 April 2011 at 20:59
This is painful to hear. I'm sorry you three had to go through this.
I'm asking myself: How does Charlie learn to change his own "gears" from a competent bike rider on the road and reorient to a visually confusing country store? How does he gain self-awareness as a teen if he may recall (in ABA?) relying on the judgement of others as a little kid?
How will the store people ever learn that "changing gears" can throw Autists for a loop--like a neurotypical bicycle rider falling because of a gear glitch?
The other Sarah--Mars' mom.
Posted by: Sarah | 05 April 2011 at 06:24