Some Sounds Are Better Than Others
It was late afternoon and Charlie and I had just come back from a walk yesterday. He got into the car and I told him I needed ten minutes to do a few things. Charlie indicated he was ok with this and climbed into the white car, which was parked in our driveway. The front door was wide open so I could check on him from time to time.
And then I heard vroom, vroom, vroooOOOOOMMMmm, really really loud.
I ran to the door and saw a big burgundy motorcycle with its leather-clad driver revving the engine while talking on his cell phone. I saw Charlie head down and hands clasped over his ears.
I was sorely tempted to tell Mr. Motorcycle Rider to turn off his engine which he did, presumably because he needed to attend to the conversation on his phone. Charlie sat up but still kept his hands over his ears. I hurried around to finish what I was doing and asked myself, should I ask Mr. Motorcycle Rider to please move down the street before revving up his engine again, my autistic son was sitting right there in our car and he's incredibly sensitive to sound?. It did occur to me that he had parked in front of our house because the space was open: We sometimes park one of our cars there, but prefer to keep them in the driveway, especially if Charlie is going to sit and wait for a period of time.
And then I heard vrooooOOOOOOooooooooommmmmmmmmrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, saw Charlie cowering in the back seat, and gone was the motorcycle and its rider.
I hurried into the car and we drove off; Charlie seemed ok as we went here and there. Once home, he asked for a walk. After five minutes, he started crying in loud gulps and moans. I walked a few paces behind him and thought, this is the lag—Charlie having, perhaps, a delayed reaction to that motorcycle making so much noise in front of his own house; in a space that Charlie regards as his domain.
The crying lasted for all of our walk. Once home, knowing that Charlie being hot (on a day with a high of 92 degrees here in New Jersey, warmer than California or Athens; global warming, you said it) was not helping things, I started cutting up a watermelon. Charlie stood and watched and then, wordlessly (but no longer crying), picked up the bowl and ate. Jim had come home by this point and put on his shorts and got out the bikes and away he and Charlie went.
Charlie has still been wearing the blue fleece jacket he's worn everyday of the fall and winter. It always takes him some time to transition to different seasons and too much explaining can just make things worse. He must have been extra over-heated yesterday, though, especially after a vigorous bike ride. He wanted to go out in the white car again and Jim and I both said a couple of uh-hmm's, and Charlie helped himself to some water and a soda from Jim's bag. He still had on his jacket and shoes; we still uh-hmm'd. I went down to the basement to start a load of laundry.
When I returned, Charlie had taken off his coat and was placing his socks beside his shoes. He went to stand near the piano, elbows pointing up as his hands were pressed over his ears. Then he asked to use the computer.
He's discovered the joys of listening to thirty-second samples of songs from albums via Amazon. We've been looking up CDs that he had a longish time ago. The samples are just long enough for Charlie to get a good taste of the song, but not so long that he gets over-stimulated by music that brings back (as music does for all of us, no?) memories, feelings, images, thoughts. Charlie also used to get very over-focused on the CDs (shiny circles) and cassette tapes (pulling out the tape was too tempting and too much fun, until he realized that he couldn't hear the music anymore).
And he also tends to get over-focused on going, going, going; on going out to look around and then he's tired and would be better off sitting on the old, beat-up, very comfortable old blue couch. Yesterday, he needed, indeed, to be reminded, it's fine just to stay home.
But Jim and I have already agreed, much as we'd like Charlie to learn how to deal with the unexpected—he is growing up—with things that he and we and no one can control, we don't really need to have more Motorcycle Guys running their engines right in front of our, of Charlie's, house and own home.