It's just become our routine: On either Saturday or Sunday, we load up the bikes on the white car and go down to the beach. We usually stop at a McDonalds, conveniently located just off the Garden State Parkway (plus, they start serving burgers at 11am, which is just around the time we get there, if we time it right). Then it's on to the beach where Jim and I quickly unload the bikes (we're very fast at it now, having done so so many times).
Charlie is usually ultra-eager to get out of the car and expresses this by running in an arc very fast, with vocal accompaniment, after which he starts putting on his yellow jacket , skullcap (to keep his ears warm---Jim wears one and Charlie has had one for awhile, but just started pulling it on a few days ago), velcro band around his right ankle so his pants won't catch in the bike chain, his helmet and, finally, his gloves.
We don't help Charlie with getting any of that on. I remember when Charlie was preschool age and still needed help getting dressed; when Charlie was elementary school age and approaching 10, 11, 12, and we plotted and rued over how to teach him the tag goes on the back of your shirt and pants and which glove is for the left hand, which for the right.
I also remember how enraged Charlie sometimes became at us and his therapists and teachers as we kept going through our protocols for teaching him something like 'the tag goes in the back' and did 'hand over hand prompting' to guide him through the motions. Often teaching such little matters escalated straight into Charlie having mega-'difficult moments' because, as I realize now, Charlie had some quite set idea of how things should be in his head and we were intruding on it very rudely. I wish I'd had a better sense of how very jarring it was to Charlie, to do something that seemed like a small thing, turning his pants around the other way before putting them on.
But we do know such things now. And Charlie puts on his pants, unbidden, the right way round.
And (just to fill you in on the rest of our Saturday), bikes 25 miles, 18 at the beach and then another 7 at home after a rest. 'First 25-mile day of the year,' as Jim said after he and Charlie rode up onto our front lawn Saturday evening and I went out to store the bikes in our backyard shed.
The 'plus' part comes in because Charlie asked for an evening walk which added a mile and a half or so to the day's total.
Give him enough time (measured in minutes, weeks, months and, sometimes, years), and he learns most things we've sought to teach him, to the extent that he can.
It's big trees that from little acorns grow, and all that.