Saturday Outing. Plus.

Charlie watching the Saint Peter's College Peacocks play the Wagner College Seahawks in Jersey City
Heartened as we are about Charlie being at his new school, we both feel a bit of a twinge about his being in a "more restricted" placement, a separate school for autistic children. While (ironically) Charlie is in many ways less restricted at the new school—able to walk through the building, to eat in the cafeteria, and to go for music and art classes—he doesn't have any opportunities there to interact with "typical" children. Of course, he didn't have any at the public middle school where he was in self-contained autism classroom, in no small part because none were offered.


So it behooves Jim and me to provide him with as many opportunities as we might to be in the world.
Thursday's unfortunate experience at the diner did seem like a setback in this goal, as well as the fact that, while we used to go in to New York almost every weekend with Charlie to visit Jim's office and walk around, our visits are now very rare. The myriad noises and the intense commotion of the city aren't easily managed by Charlie at this point. And—how else to put it—urban passers-by have precious little patience when a child-who-doesn't-on-first-sight-appear-to-be-a-child-like-Charlie is in distress.


Saturday our good friend Hal drove up from Philadelphia and we went to a basketball game at
my college. Charlie initially said "no" about getting out of the white car, so Jim and Hal went to the game while I told Charlie he could take his time. I stood around in the parking lot, in the cold sunshine. After about 10 minutes I said maybe he could get out in a bit and turned to face the brick dormitory that's across from the building where my office is. After a few minutes, I heard the soft clicks that meant Charlie was taking off his seatbelt.


The game had been going on for about ten minutes when he and I sighted Jim and Hal in the bleachers. Charlie sat beside Jim and initially kept his head tucked down and winced every time the buzzer sounded. With about five minutes to go in the first half he asked for the car and we told him we'd go soon. He sat through the half-time events (it was Hall of Fame induction day) and went with Jim to get sodas at the Peacock Café. The second half started with Charlie standing in the bleachers (there wasn't a huge crowd) and watching the entire game. And I do think he was really watching it, his eyes focused on the court. The sound of the buzzer and the announcer didn't seem to bother him as much as the game proceeded, too, as he no longer held his hands over his ears.


Afterwards we shared some pizza with Hal (Charlie opted out of this for some sushi) and spent the rest of the evening talking. Soon after Hal left, Charlie told us "bedtime" and—it wasn't quite 8pm—was soon in slumberland. It was a very fine day.


Though I just wish the Peacocks hadn't lost by one point. Ok, can't have everything.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Saturday Outing. Plus.”
  1. Barbara says:

    Heh, “can’t have everything”. A very fine day, indeed.
    Easy to say – don’t beat yourself up about the special school. I’m beginning to think the word ‘delayed’ is forgotten too early. Children with autism are delayed for socializing and that might mean special settings for longer, but might not mean always. Barbara

  2. Jill says:

    That’s great that Charlie could handle being at a noisy basketball game. How does he do around “typical” kids his own age? Does he watch them or try and interact in any way?

  3. autismvox says:

    @Jill, I guess you could say he does a version of “parallel play.” Watches but does not join in. But he does seem to like to be around people and around “action.” I was surprised that he handled the noise at the game; I thought we’d be leaving after the first buzzer!

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