Boys Grow Up
Goodnight, Get Up and Sweet Dreams (Hopefully)

How far today?

I like his smile

A lot of the posts I write at don't have a ton to do with Charlie or autism but two I wrote today that do. One post is about the US Department of Education issuing guidelines about the use of restraints, seclusion and aversive procedures to public school officials; the other is a new study that found that children are getting weaker, using the computer more and spending less time being active outside.

We've unfortunately had to address the issue of restraints and aversive procedures in previous school placements for Charlie. There's a petition here to urge your representative to support a bill about restraints and seclusion, the Keeping All Schools Safe Act. 

Charlie, as you may have noted, has become -- despite regular and frequent iPad use -- quite the opposite of 'weaker' thanks to regular physical activity and exercise. Saturday had the requisite two bike rides, the first in New Jersey horse country:

 Finally sunshine!

Jim had it in mind for them to do something like 20 miles. Instead, they went off-trail and tried some new roads, including some quite steep uphills (for some of which, they had to walk their bikes).

Bike ride under blue sky

Back at home after a burrito and a bit of rest, Charlie called 'Dad bike!' with the smile you see in photo #1 of this post and off he and Jim went to bring the day's total up to 30.

Later in the evening, Charlie and I went for an evening walk around our neighborhood. It's a very pleasant time of year here when the nights are still a bit cooler than the days and you still need to wear a sweater. Charlie has been walking on these walks after turning them into sprintfests the previous weeks. He also occasionally makes some chortle-growl sorts of sounds that tend to evoke barks from dogs inside their houses. Sometimes those barks make him run but not last night.

The walk had a soggy end as Charlie decided he wanted to pass through a schoolyard (and the grass had not been mowed) and then a large field (which was partially mowed, but which had some mega-puddles). He was game as always to plod through. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn't mind getting wet feet -- he is matter-of-fact now about riding his bike in rain showers, that's for sure.

In other words, a little walk can be quite an adventure for us.

I know the majority of my posts have been illustrated with photos of Charlie getting ready to ride his bike or on his bike. Indeed, often it seems that our days are a series of exercise sessions punctuated by brief spates of rest. Certainly one thing we've all learned is that regular physical, aerobic exercise and activity play a huge role in helping Charlie to keep away the behavior storms and to help him sleep (when he does sleep, that is), as well as giving him huge boosts to his self-confidence and sense of accomplishment (especially for a child who tends to need supports and accommodations for much of what he does). Intergrating regular exercise and physical activity into Charlie's schedule has been a quite successful pro-active measure to address 'behaviors,' and one far better than restraints.

Truth is, Jim and I equally enjoy the active life with Charlie. Certainly it gives renewed meaning to the question of 'how far will we go today?' Now that 17 or 18 mile bike rides have become routine, I often feel, the sky's the limit.


Shay West

Kristina: You are absolutely correct about how physical activity benefits children (all children, for that matter) on the spectrum.

How did you and Jim teach Charlie how to "respect" traffic and abide by the rules of the road? My 9 year-old son is on the spectrum, and I think he would love to ride a bike (already loves his Razor scooter). Would love to hear how you accomplished this with Charlie. Thanks!

Kristina Chew

Teaching Charlie about traffic was a long-term effort as you may imagine (and with many a hair-raising moment). Jim has written some things; I'll find and compile them. Bike-riding has been a real blessing for Charlie and us, for sure

Charlie used to have a Razor scooter but he's liked being able to much farther on his bike!

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