The Long Way Back Up (#252)

Charlie picked up the football from the living room floor and looked at me expectantly. “Shall we play catch?” I asked. “Casstch,” he said and lobbed the ball to me. I’ve never been good at catching a ball—I tend to duck when it comes my way.

I’d do anything for Charlie, and so catch and throw it was for a half-hour, during which Charlie had long and intense eye contact, hurried to retrieve the ball when he or I missed it, and kept laughing delightedly when he caught it. I noted that he was especially watching my hands, and that he paused from time to time to shake out his arms.
Inthegloaming
Back and forth and back and forth. Charlie kept the ball alive, all the time maintaining that exemplary eye contact, as if he wanted to keep the connection going after a day his teacher and I had to term “interesting.”

An anxious waking and sudden throwing himself headback onto the floor. More head trouble throughout his school day. Another abrupt fall to the floor just as we were going out for an afternoon walk that never got beyond the perimeter of our lawn because Charlie threw himself down–flailed his body flat–on the grass and, when I pulled him up, resisted. His torso twisted and his head, which is very large, came down like a rock. Inbetween came the screams: High-pitched, long, and making me all but certain that what was driving on the whole wrassle on the grass was a pain in Charlie’s head that he and maybe no one has any words for.

It ended with him leaning back on me and crying dry heaves. Cars drove by and a basketball game across the street continued. “Bah’oom!” said Charlie. He stood up on his own, went up the steps and straight in for a hot shower. And then he was perfectly peaceful. We went grocery shopping, he grabbed the phone (“Daddy talk phone!”) when it rang and had a short exchange with my parents, he smiled up cheerily at Jim and they watched a basketball game together.


Over these past years, life in Autismland has again and again handed us the best and worst of times. More than a few fellow traveler autism parents have been noting how the change in the seasons–the huge transition from cold winter to wet spring—has been affecting their children, sometimes to intense outbursts.

Easy is the trip down to the Underworld, ….. but to recall your step and to escape to the upper airs: This is the work, this is your task.” So the Sibyl tells the hero Aeneas in the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid as he prepares to visit the Underworld to find his deceased father, Anchises. How quickly do our children–do we—fall into that Slough of Despond from some bright meadow, and how much muck we have to claw through to get back to solid ground.
Lookingup
Charlie has been having odd transition trouble, not so much between activities at school or home (the careful implementation of an activity schedule has helped him immensely), but with transitioning from one state of consciousness to another: For the past few days, he has been agitated and tense a minute after waking. The episode on our front lawn, pierced as it was by his sudden screams, has been suggesting to Jim and me that Charlie may be having seizures, or that, at least, something is hurting him in his brain. We’ll have more than enough questions for the pediatrict neurologist next week.

Whatever it is, is the latest autism mystery to unravel. Strangest of all to me is that after Charlie, rather muddy from rolling on the front lawn, came into our house, he was smiling and easy-going, completely different in a very short time.

“We’ll figure it out,” I had said to Charlie as we sat, covered with dead grass and bits of dirt after the loud part was over. “We’re in it together.”

Or, as Charlie later put it: “Turn on Barney! Barney I wuvoo.” “Barney says,” I interjected. “Sayzz I wuv oooo! Barney turn on.” I think Charlie was smiling as he said that but I couldn’t see for sure, as he was wrapped up tight in Daddy’s blue blanket and leaning his head close into my arm.

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Comments
4 Responses to “The Long Way Back Up (#252)”
  1. gretchen says:

    I’m intrigued by your seizure theory. Not Henry, but Thomas seems to have night terrors. I would compare these to seizures also- a different, and unpleasant, state of consciousness. He cries and thrashes as if in pain. Why couldn’t a child have a similar experience while awake? I’ll be interested to hear what the neurologist says.

    Oh, and glad to hear about the game of catch- that is a real step forward!

  2. KC'sMommy says:

    Hi Kristina,

    K.C. is very much like Charlie. His moods can change so dramatically it’s hard to understand what’s happening. One minute he can be screaming his head off and the next minute it’s as though a light switch turns on and he get’s right up as if nothing ever happened. We did find that K.C. was having seizures.
    His Neurologist also thought that his spacing out periods were really seizures.
    Does Charlie’s eyes look differently when he has a seizure? K.C.’s eyes move from side to side very quickly when he has a seizure, everyone is different though.
    Please let us know what the Neurologist says:)
    I love the photo of Charlie looking right into the camera! He is such a handsome fellow!

  3. Mothersvox says:

    I don’t know if you saw the comment I wrote for you under #250, but I am thinking more and more that the emotional lability that Charlie (and Sweet M!) are showing this week may have something to do with the brightness. It is so unbelievably bright and sunny here today . . . squintingly bright.

    Maybe this is just a case of photo-sensitive person like myself seeing photosensitivity wherever I look, but it is striking that their unrest is happening as we’re moving into these late winter/early spring transitional days.

    I hope the neurologist appointment is illuminating, in all the right ways!

  4. kyra says:

    i love the story of playing catch! how wonderful for charlie to be in such an enjoyable and long regulatory pattern with you, challenging himself, coordinating with you, allowing for all the subtle differences that are bound to happen during this sort of play! hooray for charlie! and you know, the seisure theory is very intriguing. when you describe what’s happening, it seems to make so much sense when viewed that way. good luck at the neurologist.

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