1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (#308)

Charlie likes Mondays. After the loosely-structured days of the weekend, Monday brings a routine of people and places–bus driver and aide and red schoolbus, teachers at school, mom and dad off to work, babysitter at home, speech therapy, grocery shopping with a cart. And it all lines up as clearly as Charlie used to order the big and little horses, cows, sheep, pigs and chickens from his farm set.
Monday provides Charlie with a “single solution out of a mind-boggling number of possibilities” that the blooming, buzzing world of stimuli flings at him.

Edward Rothstein is referring to Sudoku, the puzzle that, with its 9 by 9 array of 9-square grids, is “an act of reduction and elimination” in which

each square has only nine possibilities and the work mainly involves not finding the possible but eliminating the impossible,……..Sudoku does not open up into the world; it reduces the world to its boundaries, forcing everything extraneous to be discarded. There is something more technological about it than mathematical… ( In Sudoku, Nine Little Numbers Add up to a Big Challenge)

I rather think Rothstein is describing how Charlie, out of the great mass and mess of the world, distills a small essence he can handle. Arranging and rearranging 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 in different patterns is something he has always been prone to become absorbed in–though this is using numbers not for mathematics–solving a2 x b2 = c2–or for arithmetic (your basic 1 + 1 = 2). It is using numbers for the sake of themselves, and “solving the puzzle” means the numbers–like people and places on Monday–are in the right slots.

“Gramma 6,” said Charlie tonight.

“Grandma six?” I asked.

“Gramma 6,” said Charlie. “Count to 29!” (And proceeded to do so.)

Grandma is sick–“sicks,” as Charlie–shades of apraxia–is wont to say.

Or is Charlie counting the number of people who might be at Grandma and Grandpa’s house when we go to see them after–if–they return from the rehab hospital? (As things have turned out, a 24-hour live-in nurse will be necessary.)

What I can count on is Charlie liking things to be in their slots–and so much the better if they’re numbered.

7 Responses to “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (#308)”
  1. zilari says:

    The first thing that came to mind upon reading this entry was: think of all the nonautistic people who are positively, well, handicapped by Mondays. Charlie is clearly at an advantage here!

  2. Bronwyn G says:

    Now I see the use of Sudoku!

    Zilari, you’re absolutely right about Mondayitis. Maybe it can be in the DSM-V?

  3. Jon Haeber says:

    This entry about your son’s interest in math is very intriguing. I’ve also been reading this other blog that talks about the aptitudes of different personalities based on tests formulated by Simon Baron-Cohen. His main tests, the EQ and SQ tests measure an individual’s ability to empathize or sympathize, respectively. According to him, Autism presents a very skilled systemizing skill. After reading about your son and his propensity for Sudoku, I thought you would be interested in reading about it. Here’s where I read it: http://eqsq.com/vivreLaDifference/?p=65

    By the way, I’m a Cal grad, great picture of your son showing his Cal pride! 🙂

  4. Julia says:

    Love the numbers!

    I love Sudoku. 🙂

    My older son’s language at this point is mostly just counting. He likes to count things. He just recently started counting “conversationally”, which has been fun – count up to a number, and someone else fills in the next number(s). He enjoys doing that with us.

  5. Zilari & Bronwyn, Math and Mondayitis–what a mix!

    Jon, I’ve never tried Charlie on Sudoku–mostly out of fear that he’ll get very stuck on the numbers. I will consider it. I have read Baron-Cohen’s work on EQ and SQ–thank you for the link–I do think Charlie is a systemizer in his thinking. And he has engineering in his blood on both sides of the family tree—and all of those engineers went to, yes, Cal.

    Julia, Charlie likes to “talk numbers” too. He’ll assign himself a number to count up to (“count to 17”) and he mostly wants to do it himself.

  6. Ennis says:

    I wonder what he thinks of sesame street’s the count?

  7. Ennis: Charlie likes to watch the count. Something about his manner and that chuckle—-one of Charlie’s favorites is the Count’s version of Itsy Bitsy Spider.

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