Beach Holiday

Charlie and me at the beach (he's processing the sound of the waves, I'm holding down my hair in the wind) It looks like I may have to rethink some of my strategy for whenever Charlie has a day, or days, off from school. I've frequently noted how these disruptions to his routine are, well, disruptive for him and, accordingly, for us. Amid making visual schedules and social stories and going over these with Charlie so he knows what's going on, it always seems that we just sort of all put our heads down and do our best to get through the day(s) of disruption. 

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr., Day here in the US and—as Charlie had not had this day off for the past three years while he attended a public school in central New Jersey—I wrote about why I was glad he did indeed have the day off at Care2.com. After finishing that post, I had to wonder if I was going to have another eat-your-words experience, in the event that our Monday was filled with more "drama" of a "challenging" sort that one finds rather hard to celebrate.

Turns out I don't have to eat my words. 

Charlie woke up around 7am and wanted to get out in the white car, just as if it were a school day. Jim and I had planned on him doing just this and so out we went for bagels and a ride to the Big Autism Center, whose closed gates clearly said "no school today." After hanging at home for a bit, we drove down to the ocean, something we'd talked to Charlie about doing since Saturday morning—only it was so warm on Saturday, it was worth it to stay home and ride bikes and walk and Sunday it rained. While we'd had two lovely trips to visit the ocean last weekend, the return back home and the rest of each day had been ridden with "neurological storms." So we decided, or rather we knew, we had to be Better Prepared. I packed a bag of food so that we'd have something on hand if Charlie said "I want to eat," even if he didn't want the items offered. We put gloves and an extra parka for Charlie into the trunk. And, the morning and the previous two days having gone very smoothly, Jim and I agreed, we weren't going to write off the long weekend as "bad" should anything untoward occur.

Traffic was very light and Jim figured, why not drive down to the beach where we usually vacation for two weeks. Jim started talking about various spots to go for a beach walk and then it was clear we had to go to a certain beach that we used to visit every summer with our dear friend Mike

Soon as we got to the beach, Charlie said "I want to eat."

We decided to get take-out from a diner. But it's only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the off-season. I remembered another restaurant that Jim and I had, years and years ago, had lunch at when we'd visited the beach in the winter and sure enough it was open. And, of course, it had burgers (what Jersey shore spot doesn't?).

Afterwards, we went for a walk on that certain beach, through the dunes and up to the waves, Charlie keeping his hands over his ears to filter its sounds.

Charlie walking through the dunes
 

Beauty at the beach

Charlie heads towards the waves
  

The light was something special, and we could see a mist hovering just over the sand.

Dad and beloved boy at their absolute favorite place

Jim on the Jersey shore

Light, clouds, water, sand

Charlie ready to go back to the white car (it was very windy)

Back through the dunes (can you believe this is New Jersey?)
     

Back in the car, Charlie said "I want to eat." He took the food items I'd packed and then, on seeing a WaWa convenience store, he indicated very clearly he want to stop there. We did; before taking a bag of Extreme Junk Food items off the shelf, Charlie looked right at me and asked if he could have them: How could I say no? (Don't worry, he takes a daily vitamin.)

We stopped at another beach, not far from the beach house we've rented for a couple of years. Charlie, true to his nature, was cautious going down the steep slope.

Charlie displaying his natural caution going down a steep sandy slope
 

Back in the car and we checked out another spot where there were surfers loading their boards atop their Subarus and talking about the waves in Managua.

Charlie at the beach, surfers in the waves
 

I do think it's a good idea for us not to go the same place, the same
beach, all the time: There's plenty of beaches up and down New Jersey's coastline. But the advantages of being in familiar territory were that, regardless of where we were, Charlie knew where there were places to get things and where he was. He also knew in advance just how long the ride back should be (barring bad traffic, which there was none of–we zipped back home up the Parkway). Maybe knowing just where he was helped him to feel more at ease in general, such that Charlie selected
four CDs we've never listened to (he only rejected one after hearing a few bars). 

He and Jim went for a walk around the neighborhood right after getting out of the car. After some inevitable video-watching and dinner-eating, Charlie asked for "bedtime" and "CDs." When I went up to tuck him in, both the beat-up black case and his blue bookbag were on the floor by his bed.

Still, ok by us that there's no school holidays till the 15th of February.

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Comments
11 Responses to “Beach Holiday”
  1. emma says:

    Love the photos – especially good to see one of you and Charlie (I know your the one usually doing the photo taking :-))
    That beach is so HUGE – it’s great!!

  2. Elise says:

    Nice post.

  3. S says:

    Would Charlie be OK with headphones to dampen some of the beach noise?

  4. feebee says:

    Seems you strike a fine balance between too much of the same and too much of the new. Way to go, everyone.
    Charlie sure is a neat kid.

  5. Well, feebee said it best so I’ll just leave it at ‘ditto feebee’.

  6. autismvox says:

    @S, we used to try him wearing headphones but he seems to want to hear the sounds all around him—am thinking he didn’t like how the headphones drowned out ambient sounds.
    And then he thew them away.
    http://autism.typepad.com/autism/2009/09/throwaway.html
    The bigger the beach the better! Even a few dogs didn’t dissuade Charlie (nor the guy with the metal detector).

  7. gretchen says:

    I agree with Emma- these are pretty pictures and I’m especially glad to see one of Charlie and his mom 🙂

  8. gretchen says:

    I agree with Emma- these are pretty pictures and I’m especially glad to see one of Charlie and his mom 🙂

  9. Nice pics and good to see you and Charlie in one. Fun times as a kid going down Parkway to the Jersey Shore. I should try to take Matt to Santa Monica pier or Venice beach with the help of his aide. Might be good for spring break.
    We had tornados here yesterday.

  10. Nice pics and good to see you and Charlie in one. Fun times as a kid going down Parkway to the Jersey Shore. I should try to take Matt to Santa Monica pier or Venice beach with the help of his aide. Might be good for spring break.
    We had tornados here yesterday.

  11. autismvox says:

    I read about those tornados—couldn’t believe it. Are things ok where you are?
    I’m getting Jim to take more so, for better or for worse, you’ll be seeing me in a few more…..

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