Mother of a Bigger Boy
What Happened to Jonathan Carey Could Happen to My Autistic Son

Time Out From Timers and the Prehistoric Autistic Person

Just walking (well actually I am thinking about translating Pindar)

The weekends have been quite peaceful around here. Usually Charlie wants (demands) to get into the white car and drive off somewhere as soon as he wakes -- understandable since, on school days, that is the routine we've taught him. He certainly knows that weekends mean no school, but the desire to Get Up and GO has remained. I also think that this is in part a side-effect of the past years' teaching Charlie to go for a walk or run or bike ride when anxious and upset: He is always a bit unsettled when he wakes up and so wants to be in motion, asap. 

Yes, another lesson in Be Careful What You Teach Because You Might Have Overtaught It.

Jim and I not being ready to hustle out the door with bikes and gear at 8.30am on weekend mornings, we've been telling Charlie he has to wait and often using the Giant Timer app on the iPad to show him for how long. As of last week, I decided we should discontinue the Giant Timer and timers in general as I think one reason Charlie whanged iPad 1.0 on the floor so the screen completely shattered was frustration at the timer, as well as some sort of unpleasant sensory response from staring at the large fluorescent green numbers.

I've been making some very simple picture-sequence schedules using the Tap Speak Button app. We show them once to Charlie and then he has been standing or plunking himself in a chair, iPad in hand, to wait. Sometimes he says 'Jersey City Jersey City' or whatever he has on his mind over and over and we do fudge a bit on the times (we've told him '35 minutes' and it might be 30 or 40). It's neither a perfect nor a potentially long-lasting system but sometimes such a rather 'casual' procedure seems to be better, instead of something too over-systemized with too many bells and whistles.

Sometimes it's better to serve up 'just the facts, ma'am,' you know?

Anyways. I think one reason the past few weekends have been, yes, 'just' quite pleasant is that Charlie has been quite good about waiting. Both Saturday and Sunday, after getting up and dressed by 8.30am, he sat in a chair watching videos while I went running (that's part of my wake-up routine) and Jim rested a bit more (he and Charlie did over 50 miles on their bikes this weekend plus a 5-mile walk -- rest for the parents is needed! ). When told he could go out to the car, Charlie has been loading it up with bike helmets and a bag with gear (gloves, wrenches), and the big neon yellow jackets -- no, he and Jim are not wearing them. Charlie likes to be prepared and once his mind gets going on a way of doing things, he's not so inclined to go in reverse.

Indeed, some of his hyper-focus and need for certain sorts of patterns could have been strengths in a prehistoric hunting and foraging society. I'm not making that up; a USC researcher presents this idea of the 'autism advantage' in a new study in Evolutionary Psychology. What I do like about the study is how it suggests that certain autistic characteristics/traits/behaviors that are thought 'maladaptive' could have, in those prehistoric cave-people times, rather helped a prehistoric autistic person survive, and even survive among the fittest. It's all a theory, of course, but it just seems that there must be some way to put Charlie's admittedly OCD and rigid orderings of his world and its objects to good use. 

As I mentioned in a Care2 post, Charlie's need for order can be quite helpful as far as finding things like keys and bicycle gloves. He is very likely to put these always in the same place. He knows the place for filled-up garbage bags is the garbage can, so putting those there is not a chore, but a way of creating order. Lately, too, he has been doing his version of folding any loose sweaters or towels or articles of clothing by mounding them into a neat little bundle. Yes, he has been taught a more standard way of folding things, but I have to admit, I like his method because it's a sure sign that Charlie was here

All is in order



Chris is hyperlexic as part of his PDD-NOS,, since that diagnosis I've thought about how hyperlexic people may have actually been important in creating and using systems of written language. Most people require training to learn those systems, but hyperlexic kids really do seem to pick them up with minimal exposure in a relatively natural way. It seems like a relatively adventageous skill.

Kristina Chew

You're right, literacy for most people is a relatively recent phenomenon!

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