Follow Me (#353)

We had been told that the “new yellow schoolbus” would appear at 8.21am and that we needed to have Charlie waiting on the sidewalk 5-10 minutes before that. Charlie—who had insisted on putting his lunchbox into his backpack at 9pm the night before—-gulped down breakfast and ran out at 8.15am.
8.25am, no bus.

Jim called the transportation office. Charlie, smiling, was skipping excitedly. He had first walked towards a maroon minivan parked up a bit up the street and with a South Asian bus driver—–almost like his old red schoolbus. “We’re waiting for a yellow bus!” we told Charlie, scanning the street.

Next thing we knew, Charlie was on his hands and knees and I was racing across the too-large front lawn of my in-laws’ house and calling to my father-in-law’s live-in nurse for a bandaid. The bus drove up just as I was washing out Charlie’s knee and he walked right on, blood staining his pants. “It’s going to be 8.30, not 8.20,” the bus driver told us. Charlie sat down beside his backpack (weighed down with his lunchbox, extra reinforcers, and the program book from his old school) and looked down solemnly at Jim and me.

And onto his Another First Day at Charlie’s third school this school year—-a day he was so much in anticipation of that he could not go to sleep last night.

After that less-than-fortuitous start, I got a mid-morning email from Charlie’s new teacher telling us that he was doing great, skinned knee and all. After lunch, Charlie struggled more and came home wearing a different pair of pants than he had left with.

And with the peaceful, open look on his face that he acquired after he had been in his now “old school” for a week. Which is Charlie’s way of communicating to us, it’s okay, I think I like it.

Charlie dutifully put down his backpack in Grandpa’s living room and said “hiiii” to the nurse. He lay on the couch, jumped on the cushions, and his face stayed relaxed and then smiling. The speech therapist we have known for three years came to work with him and—despite being in an unfamiliar setting with a contractor banging away in the next room (Grandpa is having some renovations down on the house)—Charlie did his oral-motor exercises, manded, talked, teased her. “I want white rice,” said Charlie. “How about a burger too?” I asked. “No burger.” “But you need to eat something besides just rice. How about cauliflower?” “Yes, caowweefau’er.” “And maybe a bit of burger…..?” “Burger,” said Charlie. After dinner, he ran off for an evening bike ride with Jim: “Bike ride Daddy! I want!”

I had been worried about not being able to purchase a notebook for Charlie’s communication book until today. But I have already been exchanging emails about the day with Charlie’s teacher. I know that I was not able to communicate everything to the new school about Charlie and his needs, just as the transportation office told us one thing but the bus driver planned for something else—–and a few minutes, a few syllables, can make all the difference in Autismland.

It’s not just Charlie who struggles to communicate what needs to be said.

As I have been learning by reading Charlie’s face—and his cheeks and eyes were relaxed and peaceful from the moment he deboarded the bus—a lot gets communicated in ways other than with words, or with only a few, as Charlie sang in a lilting melody in the shower:

“Fow-woe me, fow-woe me—–fow-woe me, fow-woe meeeeee.”

15 Responses to “Follow Me (#353)”
  1. vincent says:

    Charlie, well done!

  2. Squaregirl says:

    That is so fantastic! I’m sure so much anticipation has been leading up to this day and it is wonderful to hear that Charlie will be in a place that he enjoys and feels comfortable in…and with a teacher who communicates with you. So glad to hear how well it seemed to have gone, despite the mis-communication regarding the bus.

  3. StyleyGeek says:

    I’m so glad Charlie’s new school looks like it will work well for him. All the best for the rest of the week!

  4. Eli'smom says:

    Hmmm-Eli’s summer school bus was 10 minutes earlier than expected and Charlie’s was 10 minutes later…so I guess it evens out cosmically.
    Glad Charlie’s adjusting so well in the face of so much transition! A true testament to his confidence in himself and his abilities.
    Eli has the same teacher as last summer and he made some astounding progress then. Also has the same teacher’s assistant (dear Miss Tami)he has had for the past two years. He is thrilled to be back in school after only one week’s break!

  5. zilari says:

    Wow…sounds like Charlie did incredibly well on his first day, all things considered! Waiting for rides (and not having them show up at an anticipated time) is one of my own biggest upset-triggers, so I definitely empathize with him there.

    As a suggestion, I don’t know if he’s gotten another iPod or similar audio-player device, but recently I’ve found that having something really interesting to listen to (I like science podcasts, Charlie might like stories of some sort, or even educational recordings) can cut down on the “waiting stress” a LOT.

    But wow. A move, a new school, a late bus — and Charlie happy at the end of the day. 😀

  6. Sharon says:

    What a guy!
    I’m so glad to hear that his day went well. I love to hear that happy singing too!

  7. Mamaroo says:

    Glad to hear that the first day seemed to go well for Charlie! I am sure today will be even better. Best wishes to you all on the big move!

  8. Brett says:


    It is great to hear that Charlie is taking so well to his new environment, and that he is able to not let ‘little’ things like a late bus get him down on such an exciting day. As you know, we’ve had our share of changes, and sometimes it seems like they just keep getting easier and easier.

    I hope this great start is just the beginning of a great summer and beyond.

  9. Thank you, friends—-Charlie is doing a better job with the transition than I am I would say! Zilari, thanks for reminding me about the iPod which has yet to be replaced. I think it might be a good thing for Charlie to have while in transit.

    We’ll see what day 2 brings…..

  10. Ahhhhh, the first day. Hopefully the last first day for awhile. Sounds like things are going well. Sorry about his boo boo. Hope you are having a good day!

  11. Kristin says:

    I’m so happy that his first day went well. I was wondering, crossing my fingers and sending good vibes your way lately. I thought he did so great baording the bus. He pulled it together all on his own. Good for him :o)


  12. gretchen says:

    Whew. I’m so glad to hear about the first day. Great job, Charlie- I would love to give you a squeeze!

    Henry’s having a very anxious week, and so am I. These transitions are murder on all of us.

  13. Mothersvox says:

    Hooray for Charlie! So glad the first day went so well and that he’s in a good new place!

  14. KC'sMommy says:

    How wonderful Charlie’s day went great! I am so glad to hear it and very happy for you two! Charlie is a super trooper!

  15. Julia says:

    Glad he had a good first day!

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