Marking Time

Charlie and my mom ('PoPo') on a rainy walk In preparing for the Greece trip, I put a mental "not thinking about this till after we get back" note on a number of things. Consequently, I just realized that Charlie has Spring Break next week: I knew this would fall around Easter and I knew Easter is April 4th, but now I know, no school for all of next week.

It's also possible, as in likely, that I was kind of trying to put off knowing when Charlie has a week of Spring Break, in view of some of the challenges during Winter Break in December and all those snow days in February. Those breaks made it clear, Charlie does best when on a routine of 5 days of school for the morning and part of the afternoon, followed by time at home intermixed with walks and other physical activity, and rides in the car. A calendar (I like the template from Do2Learn) and social stories seemed to help somewhat while I was in Greece, and we'll be using those again. 

I've also started to use the timer on the iPod Touch Charlie got for Christmas. Sometimes he wants a ride and gets into the white car, but we're not ready (or it sometimes seems like it hasn't been that long since we just went out). I wasn't in a rush to get Charlie started on the iPod Touch seeing as how his previous iPod ended up in the garbage. I don't think I'll be putting any songs on the new iPod at first, especially in light of how, in the past months, listening to the same songs on CDs led to Charlie becoming over-stimulated and, in some cases, throwing himself at walls or running out the door. He's been liking listening to 89.9 on the radio, most of all when there's jazz on (like Charlie Parker, not the more avant-garde-y sort of thing). But the radio is very different in that it's unpredictable what gets played and there's an announcer (Phil Schaap is preferred in our household) intermixing his commentary. (And commercials, which I regularly change the station to avoid.)

These are all simple, non-splashy techniques. I may sound a bit jaded but at this point in Charlie's life—he'll be 13 in May—I've generally found that the most effective solutions tend to be, indeed, simple, and to involve the most basic of materials. Indeed, lately a piece of paper and a marker/pencil/whatever wrtiign implement happens to be in the vicinity often seem the most effective in helping Charlie navigate transitions these days. 

My mom and dad leave this morning after being here for two weeks. We still have the calendar I made to show him when they were coming and when I was in Greece. Today I wrote in "Gong Gong Po Po airplane" on March 23rd; Charlie repeated me saying that phrase and crossed off another day on the calendar. It's been a great, great visit with them (I couldn't have gone to Greece without them staying with Charlie and Jim, that's for sure). They won't be back till June. 

Along with the upcoming Spring Break, looks like I'm going to be printing out a lot of calendars and getting busy with the markers.

4 Responses to “Marking Time”
  1. emma says:

    Charlie is happy with the radio? Dimitri doesn’t really like it, I will try some other kinds of music but I think it’s the unpredictability he doesn’t like (and usually he is quite a flexible chap)
    Effective solutions should be simple, I like the idea that you can use pen and paper anywhere, no preprinting or programming necessary (although the iPod has potential for Dimitri, I still like pen and paper).
    Not only am I shocked at the soon to be Easter break (no spring break here) but I’m aghast at how summer will be rushing upon us. Summer holiday, mid June to mid September for us!!!!

  2. The power of the calendar! That is how Nat learned what a week “felt” like: “School, school, school, school, school; No school, No school.”

  3. a parent says:

    The calendar is a favorite app on the iPod touch for my guy. He likes looking at past events a lot. It’s almost like a photo album I think. The only downside is that I’ve got to make sure I update the calendar as soon as someone cancels an activities – spoken words explaining doesn’t trump the calendar’s writing. Maybe that’s not a downside, with all the activity in the household we need to have someplace you can count on to look up schedules.
    Google maps on the iPod, especially with the road-level view, are another way he reviews what’s happened or where we’ve been.
    Spring Break – arghhh!!! I’ll have to take at least a day or two off work and maybe if the weather is nice we can go to our (unheated) cabin. Middle kid is going to Costa Rica for a week so I’ll be worrying about her. Honestly, I’m avoiding thinking about the topic for as long as I can.

  4. autismvox says:

    Feeling very lucky—-the summer session at Charlie’s current school is a whopping 6 weeks, and for almost as many hours per day as his current school.
    Will check out the calendar feature! I’ve also used Notes to make a quick schedule for Charlie.
    I always thought Charlie would prefer CDs and other things that enabled him to hear the same songs that he liked. But those seem mostly to have led to frustration and over-stimulation? Not to mention a lot of sticky fingerprints on the CDs!

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