Stormy Portents
30 Mile Sunday

A Historical Consciousness

High on Jim's and my lists of autism myths to debunk is the one about an autistic individual being, for instance, a toddler's mind in a teenager's body.

We most definitively have a teenager in body and mind.

(I know, can you believe the above Charlie Long Legs was once a babe inside five-foot-'tall' me?)

Perhaps because it is summer, Charlie has been on a bit of a nostalgia kick. He has been calling for the six mile local bike ride that goes west that he and Jim did a lot in previous summers. It takes them down a certain favorite street where a far younger (and shorter) Charlie learned to get the hang of riding on hills, on bikes that were not yet the same size as Jim's. There is also a school with a playground that Charlie has often requested to stop in, to go for a swing.

They did three of those rides Saturday, morning afternoon and night, with only a single walk in the morning.

In the middle of the day, Charlie was definitely on edge. He sat some in his brown chair waiting for his second bike ride and then, as Jim was getting ready, ran with a holler out the door, me on his heels calling for Jim. Charlie only went as far as our front lawn beside the white car but he was in distress and his legs were shaking as they had on Friday after he ran down the Jersey horse country bike path, also hollering.

Jim's feeling is getting Charlie in motion is the best thing so he set about getting an agitated, weepy boy onto the bikes and off they went.

Frankly I still have another ABA relic idea in my head of making sure Charlie is totally calm (over a 'behavior') before starting up on something new and a 'preferred activity.' But Jim has an understanding off 'bike therapy' based on his own experiences, memories of being teenage boy of much feeling and only so many resources.

It was Jim indeed who made the observation about Charlie's rising nostalgia and it being summertime .

At which I said, no surprise, Charlie is a historian too.


Brenda (mamabegood)

I love your debunking. I love the collaboration between you and Jim. So glad you've found a passion for Charlie.


Just a thought about the ABA 'rules'....sometimes that 'science' is not the way to raise a human being...while a useful technology, it is an insufficient theory about human development.


That "functions an X year old thing" comes up so much on the news, especially if someone is missing or in need of help, that it's hard to fight against.

I think my favorite example (in the "laugh so you don't scream" kinda way) was the time my then-23-year-old brother (and, it should be noted, Patrick has a mustache and full beard and in no way appears younger than his age, though he very obviously has Down syndrome) was offered a kid's menu at a local restaurant.

JJ Autism

Thanks for clarifying a misconception people have. Charlie is most definitely a teenager in body and mind!

Kristina Chew

@Jennifer, I am still savoring the image of Patrickbeing given that child's menu. Even when more child-size, Charlie did not have a childlike appetite!


Heh. Nor does Patrick, although he's a very, very picky eater.

He was as flummoxed by the whole thing as I was; unfortunately we both tend to freeze when we're just completely dumbfounded, so I lost a valuable teaching moment.

Fortunately, it was an aberration. :-)

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