Back and Through (#420)

It was at the 14th hole of Charlie’s first-ever round of mini-golf when Jim, standing behind Charlie and guiding his arms in an arc, said “back….and through. Try that, pal, back……and through.”

Charlie started to wander onto the Astroturf greens with the club in one hand. “Okay, Bud, let’s try it again…..”—-Charlie leaned his head forward, jaw clenching, shoulders sharpening—“…back….and through!’

The blue golf ball rolled a foot and half, slowly. Charlie walked towards it and, putter in one hand, poked at the ball. “Hey pal, both hands, back and through…..”

Charlie, with Jim prompting and me offering quiet encouragement, played all 18 holes. He and I had both gotten a hole in one on the third (and Jim around the tenth), but by the eighth hole Charlie had started to say “B’ack car.” At the 13th, he had an explosive growling moment, swung his head downwards, and beat his golf club on the ground. And while a year ago we might have said “that’s it” and turned in our clubs and balls and gotten an unhappy boy into the car as fast as possible, today we upped our demands and, as Jim prompted Charlie to swing his putter, the explosion that could have happened did not.
And then, on the 14th hole, Jim started to say “back and through” as he guided Charlie’s arms backwards and through the arc of a swing. “That’s what it took,” Jim said as we walked to the car (with Charlie calling out “fish! dinn-err”), “making it a two-step process.” “Discrete trial style,” I said.

Going backwards and then through—-taking a step back and then walking slowly forward—that is also, I think, how it has often been for Charlie’s learning: As Charlie’s teacher has noted, he needs to go back and work more on his receptive labels of objects before learning to sight-read the words for all those objects. I once read in a novel how a ship moves through the ocean by going eight steps back for every seven forward—and so Charlie’s learning proceeds, gradual and rocking in the waves like a barge with a load of containers.

Moving backwards to move onwards.

After dinner on a picnic table on the bay, Charlie ran to the playground and wanted “swinnng.” Jim helped him up and then we worked on teaching Charlie to “pump legs!” (Jim tilted Charlie’s legs just a bit up).
“Can he play?” A little boy had appeared to my left. He was six years old; his name was Alex; he asked, how old is he? of Charlie. “I nineyearzzold,” said Charlie.

We stayed in the park as the sun set—a perfect watercolor of pink and mauve and big orange ball of the sun—and Charlie alternated (with me coaching) following Alex onto the slide; swinging; “hiding” with Alex behind a swingset to play spies (Charlie revealed the hiding place in about five seconds and scooted himself back up on the swing); swinging; going up the climbing wall (Alex scrambled quickly up; Charlie made it to the halfway point methodically, then climbed down).

And then Charlie was back on the swing, sticking out his legs when I said “pump legs!” and calling out “push, swing!” and moving forwards and back, and back and through again.

6 Responses to “Back and Through (#420)”
  1. Frog's Mom says:

    What a wonderful vacation! Where is this magical beach where playmates come out of the woodwork? Charlie seems to have his magnetic charm turned on. Good job Charlie for sticking with the golf game. We’ve been instructed by our therapists to “challenge little frog’s closure” to help expand his tolerances and stop him from giving up too easily on things he wants to do. Hope the rest of your two weeks is as good as this begining :0)

  2. Rachael says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip!

  3. Yeah for Charlie! Swinging a golf club, pumping a swing, and making a friend. Who could ask for more in an afternoon. What a blessing. Hope you are having a great time!!!!! We too have pushed Sam into things he doesn’t want to do. It has been a year and a half of pushing, but now Sam will go to the indoor play places and mazes (we have to play in those in the winter time, with our long winters). It was always too overstimulating, noisy, too many kids. He would hide under a table and scream if you tried to make him go play with his brother in the tunnels. After trying a couple times a week for a year and a half, he finally explores and has some fun!!! I don’t think it is mean, or us not understanding how stressful it was on him, I think it was helping to build a tolerance for those sensory things, and his proof of his smile now shows it wasn’t mean. Keep up the patience and great work with Charlie. Sometimes it’s about how much we can handle, not them, in order to help them. 🙂

  4. Kari says:

    What a wonderful vacation! I am so happy to hear about all the wonderful things Charlie is experiencing!

  5. liz ditz says:

    I’ve been enjoying reading about your vacation.

    I think that learning is never a straight arc of improvement. There’s always what I call “the back and fill”.

  6. “about how much we can handle, not them, in order to help them”: more than well said! (and now I’m thinking of those Minnesota winters….)

    We vacation here every year at the Jersey short and we’ve never had the experience of kids walking up to Charlie and asking him to play! All your good wishes help so much!

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