Each to Each’s Own

Charlie doing some fancy footing on a walkApparently those White Castle candles have been smelling, I meant selling, like 'hotcakes.' 

Go figure, each to her or his own, and all that—a concept that we ('the weird ones') fully embrace.

The three of us continued our daily round (our daily round; it does suit us) of long walks (3) and long bike ride. 12 miles seems the average bike ride these days: Wasn't it yesterday Jim talked about doing 'bike rodeo' and reining in Charlie 'like a little calf' with a hand on his shoulder, as Charlie had still a long way to go before learning to 'squeeze the brakes' and stop his bike? Certainly, quite gone are the days when we insisted Charlie walk holding our hand—holding both of our hands—and feared he might never learn to cross the street on his own.

Contrary to descriptions of autistic teenagers with adult-size bodies and toddler-level minds, Charlie's growing up in body and, yes, understanding. He is 'developmentally delayed'; it's taken him much longer (weeks, months, years) to learn things that 'ye typical child' picks up quickly and seemingly effortlessly. But Charlie is always learning and, give him enough time (sometimes quite a bit of time—I did say years—it's true) and he begins to get things.

Friday was—like all of our days of late, as I'm sure you've noticed—another full-out exercise day, with three long walks (at morning, after-noon, and nightish) and a 12-mile bike ride (guess that is becoming Charlie's average). Walk #3 happened last, after which Charlie snacked-dined and went upstairs to shower. And, requested shirt, shorts and socks afterwards.

Jim and I were sitting on the couch and exchanged glances. We pointed out that it was late for a walk. We pointed out the fact that Charlie had almost literally just done a walk. We observed that we were (a true fact) tired. "Socks, socks," said Charlie flashed us a look of ardent woebegoneness.

"Well ok," I said and got up off the couch. I tore a piece of paper off a pad and found a pen, and the iPod touch. I set the timer to go off after 7 hours—enough time to get in something of a sleep.

I read out the schedule to Charlie, noting that he'd have to first do the 7 hours of sleeping in the house, and then a walk. I put the piece of paper down and the timer and showed it to Charlie. He stood a bit wanly and then tucked his hands under his chin, and shifted from foot to foot.

"Bedtime," said Charlie. In one fell swoop, he'd gathered up the timer and his beads and things and was up the stairs. 

When I went to turn off the light to his room and check on him after 15 minutes, Charlie was deeply asleep, on his left side: Just the right angle to view the timer that he'd placed beside him on his bed.

Though I did take the iPod touch and change the time on the timer to something more than  7 hours—9 sounds good to me.


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Comments
6 Responses to “Each to Each’s Own”
  1. Louise says:

    This was a brainstorm! How marvelous! If Charlie understands this new system and seems amenable to it, then you have a way to begin scheduling his exercise demands.
    Everybody will be able to live a bit more regulated life. More sleep for everybody!

  2. sarah says:

    Did the same thing today for my son who just got two new puppies. He had played with them for almost an hour and they were tired ( only six weeks old). so set the timer in on the microware for 30 mins and off we went. he kept asking and I kept referring to the tier as it was counting down.
    trying to not give in to every demand it key— prolonging it takes skill and alot of “pre” scheduling for parents likes us. Always ten steps ahead. enjoy the extra sleep.

  3. emma says:

    Smart! “well ok” and using the timer for 7hrs (or 9) later is so much better than “no not now”. I’m going to remember that.

  4. fanofyours says:

    Kristina, you are a genius. And that is delayed gratification that many of our kids could stand to learn more of. Kudos to you!!!

  5. Susan says:

    Kristina,
    This is a terrific and creative idea! Yeah, let’s hear it for parents!

  6. autismvox says:

    Ha! I don’t know about genius, just glad it worked! It turned out to be more like an 8 or 9 hour ‘wait’ as Charlie ‘slept in’ till 8.30am…..

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