Brite Lites, Big So-Man (#184)

This evening, as Jim sat in a nook of our living room and typed, a faint light came into Charlie’s eyes and he ran up the stairs, to return with his Lite Brite. He started to hum intently and fiddle with his fingers–or rather, with four crystalline Lite Brite pegs.

“Charlie, let’s play with the Lite Brite. Not stim,” I said. Charlie smiled just a bit and poked at the plastic case. I realized that there was no black paper pattern through which to stick the pegs. “Hey, you need a pattern! It’s in your room, in the box.”
Charlie went back up, clomped around, and returned with the outline of a ship, which he set into the plastic frame upside down. “It’s upside down!” I proclaimed and helped him right it. Thoroughly focused, Charlie put in as many pegs as he could, with something of an orange theme here, a pink there. From time to time he glanced over at the TV, as shots of paintings by Jackson Pollock and Van Gogh from a documentary flashed on and off.

And what comfort and joy (as MOM-NOS so nicely puts it) I felt to see Charlie playing with a toy and listening to the bits of Thelonious Monk coming from the TV.

This sweet development of Playing With Toys is thanks to our hard-working ABA therapists, who showed up at 9am and noon today.

The therapists stayed cheerful and insistent as Charlie kicked, yowled, sent a plate of rice and an apple flying: A new therapist was in training and, while Charlie was Mr. Smiles at the end, something about seeing someone new unbalances him. Just a few months ago, the reaction was violence and headstuff, so a messy floor is a minor matter to attend to. Our regular therapist stood over a wailing boy and swiftly got him up the stairs.
The second therapist, another trainee in tow (it’s been a bustling ABA circus here in Autismland), had a three-hour session and dedicated a good part of it to toy play. Charlie colored, Charlie did dot art, Charlie tried out Elefun and his laptop. At one point, the two therapists and Charlie donned their coats and set to work getting a battered chartreuse Slinky to walk down our front steps.

Jim came home early and he and Charlie whizzed away for a late December bike ride. To the tune of “the music that made Memphis”–a little “Soul Man,” a bit of “Everyday I Have the Blues”–we got “Daddy sprinkles” for dinner: Charlie-speak for, “Daddy gets me guacamole and a burrito without the tortilla” (to Charlie, the diced tomatoes look like sprinkles on a cupcake). Then we rushed out, as I thought Charlie had a speech therapy session at 6.30pm–but the building was dark when Charlie and I drove over. It’s the same place that he goes for OT and Charlie was determined to get into the building (mats! therapy balls! nice OT! swings of several sorts! scooters!): “Open key!” he told me and I came up short to his request. “Next week. Mom goofed.”

We got back in the car and I pressed the eject button for the CD player. “Turn on,” said Charlie. I put in the Old 97s (a gift from a friend) and Charlie sat back and looked out the window. He sat there quietly as I walked up our front steps, only to hear my boy’s rapid foot-stomps and his perfectly-pitched voice proclaiming

“I’m da so-man, ooooooo uuuuuhhhh uuuhh aah, ooooooo uuuuuhhhh uuuhh aah, I’m da so-man.”

“What’s he singing?” asked Jim. “Soul Man,” I said. Charlie stopped when we tried to join in, then started up again, grinning and moving.

Got what I got the hard way
And I make it better, each and every day
So honey, said don’t you fret
‘Cause you ain’t seen nothing yet.

I can see it now: Tonight, lit up in Lite Brite lights, the So-Man gets top billing.

3 Responses to “Brite Lites, Big So-Man (#184)”
  1. Eileen says:

    I love the picture of Charlie sitting at his desk. He looks so studious! That is so cute how he sings Soul Man.

    We got Elefun for Christmas but haven’t tried it yet. So far Andrew has stolen the nets to stim off of.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I have read a lot of your comments and I think we have a lot of things in common. Well, mainly ABA.
    We did intense ABA therapy with our, now 5 year old, when he was 2 1/2. He had echolalic language. He couldn’t request, talk, etc…
    After 6 months of ABA he was requesting.
    I am a FIRM believer in it. It really has worked for my son.
    He is still having in home therapy. It has changed a lot because he is progressing. He still fumbles up his sentences and has some speech issues. But his behavioral stuff is so much better. He used to tantrum, scream, and go into his own world. He never played with other kids. He would stim with his eyes, and verbally.
    He has changed so much. He was severe, and now he is mild and high functioning. I owe it all to his courage and ABA therapy.
    Anyway, sorry for the long introduction! But I like the advice you give to others..
    Have a great New Years!

  3. gretchen says:

    We’ve had several days straight of listening to the “Dragon Tales” tape. You’re lucky to listen to grown up music and have Charlie sing along!

    Re: the therapy building being dark: when Henry wants to go to the library and it’s closed, he insists “it is NOT closed! I have a key! You want me to unlock the doors!”

    Charlie is making great strides in the past few weeks- I love to hear about it!

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