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.