2pm – 5pm (#487)

Charlie’s school day has ended at 1pm everyday except for Monday this past week, for parent-teacher conferences (not that he had one—-his teacher instead comes for regular home visits) and, now that this week is over, I realize how that small change in his schedule has set things askew in our household.
Charlie is usually at school from 9am until 3pm—so he has had 8 fewer hours of school this week, which is equal to more than one full school day. (I repeat, more than one full school day). He has had an ABA or speech therapy session every day but there is something about the afternoon hours from 2pm until 5pm that have often made this time of day difficult for him. It is a sort of transitional time: It is afternoon turning into evening, when the major business of the day (school) is over and he is tired, perhaps, but still in need of doing something that will engage him, and preferably his cognitive and physical capacities.

Wednesday was the best as Jim was home and took Charlie on a bike ride; Charlie and I went for “wet walks” on Tuesday and this afternoon. Exercise of a purposeful sort has long been a necessity for Charlie, no matter what the weather (and the raised eyebrows of those who prefer the great indoors), and today he and I again donned rain coats and boots and marched off down the street in a light drizzle that became a driving rain, complete with gusty winds—and that then tapered off into the sun peaking out as we walked back home.

Charlie pulled off his wet pants and wrapped himself up in the blankets on my bed and then went out in the driveway, where he engaged in his usual back-and-forth pace-running. If it had been a regular school day, he would have had just enough time for some minutes of this before his ABA or speech therapist arriving, but today there was a gap of almost two hours and, even though I had gone over “schedule” of pacing, piano, puzzles, and snack with Charlie, he was running and smiling one moment and then crying out—screaming, some—in the next. He ran in the house and down the porch stairs and back inside again, calmed briefly when I called him to practice piano, and then let out a Halloweenesque howl when the front door was shut as requested. Charlie cried out, ran to open it, and lay down on his back on the porch for a minute before coming back inside with me.

It was now smiles, now yowls, for the first part of his ABA session: Charlie was happy to see his therapist and worked at his reading and language programs, but interspersed sitting at his desk with some rather frantic running and requests to put on his shoes. Piggy backs from his therapist helped (yes, this therapist is tall—-Charlie looks small on his back, if you can imagine that), a run around the backyard, and doing his Activity Schedule (in which Charlie follows a series of pictures to complete a series of play activities—he is up to six—on his own). Charlie finished the session with all smiles; this therapist is very attuned to Charlie’s Friday blues, as he has often worked a Friday shift.

And while the sensible part of me said we should just stay put and make dinner from what was in the kitchen, another part of me said, Enough! Let’s get in the car and go somewhere. Let’s get in motion, let’s get on the road where possibilities always lurk. Where there is something different.

Charlie was certainly game to go and, even though our destination ended up being, rather mundanely, his favorite grocery store, I’ll admit I had to have one of those laugh-sigh-what-can-you-say moments when I found our shopping basket set dead center among the four points of the dairy section, the frozen food section, the fruit section with the big pumpkin box, and a display of Charles Shaw wine. The moment before Charlie had asked if he could get a bag of frozen mixed vegetables; I had assumed, rather naively for all the time I have spent in Autismland, that Charlie would take the basket with him.

I picked it up and gave it to Charlie (“Back-setts!”, one hand on each handle) to carry the rest of the way.

3 Responses to “2pm – 5pm (#487)”
  1. Lisa/Jedi says:

    The afternoon till dinnertime has always been difficult in our house. Always. I agree that it’s a low-energy time, a waiting time… I’m usually at my lowest energy then, too, so finding good, distracting activities has not always been easy, particularly when B was younger. These days B & I usually watch a movie or he gets involved in a computer game- as long as it’s not too frustrating! It’s no wonder B objects so strongly to homework…

  2. Ennis says:

    Circadian rhythms – we are most tired between 3-5AM, and during the day there is a lull around 3-5 PM. You can see it in adults too.

  3. That explains a lot—-especially the 3-5pm time—sometimes I think of it as as “the witching hour.”

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