Master of Timing, & Timers

Charlie with his boogie board on a rainy day at the beach Today's title is brought to you courtesy of Jim, who uttered that very phrase about us three Tuesday at 4.55pm. That's the time that we had the good, or the bad (depending on how you look at it) fortune to get to the beach, just in time to see the lifeguards packing up.

We hadn't been able to leave till rather later in the afternoon and even ran into some commuter traffic on the Garden State Parkway. Charlie was in a very cheerful mood the whole ride, after wanting to go to the ocean on Sunday and not going, and after a morning bike ride in 93 degree weather that (according to one article from a Jersey paper) felt like 105 degrees. Much lemonade was drank after that ride and, in the midst of watching YouTube videos on the laptop, Charlie fell fast asleep on the comfy old blue couch. 

He was overjoyed to know we were going 'down the Shore' on waking. As we drove south (with the car thermometer telling us that it was 100 degrees at one point),  Jim and I exchanged glances. Sections of the sky darkened and went from grey to almost black and twice rain drops spattered the front window. None of us wasted any time getting down to the beach and Charlie, as ever, went straight for the waves, boogie board in hand.

The water was cold and completely different from what it had been on the weekend. After a few short rides, Charlie came out and asked to have the boogie board strap taken off. He went back into the water but stayed in the shallows, running in and out. I went in for a short swim, emerging with shivering hands and feeling rather invigorated and—rather a treat after 90 degrees days—cold.

Charlie wanted a beach towel and we left. As we were driving to get him some sushi from his favorite place, it started to pour as in buckets, gallons, and barrels.

Ominous sky darkening over the ocean scene

Jim got to be the lucky one to make two heroic dashes through the rain to get the sushi, after which we had the pleasant experience of noting that the temperature was down to 77 degrees.

Talk about raining! Looks like we're under the ocean

I steeled myself to explain to Charlie that there would most likely be no riding the ferris wheel, even though the rain let up after ten minutes, leaving major puddles and garbage cans on their sides in the streets. But Charlie himself did not ask for rides and instead requested that we leave.

He was full of boisterous energy in the car and it was no surprise that he asked for a walk soon after we'd gotten home. Jim went with Charlie who zipped along despite the 87 degree weather and the heavy, murky air. A dog yapped at him and—a rare occurrence—its owner apologized.

Due to that nap, we had a feeling that Charlie might not be able to sleep till later than usual, and we were right. He asked to hear Disney songs and alternated being cheerful and smiling kneeling on the couch, and then up and run-stomping, back and forth from said couch to the kitchen (where he stopped just short of the wall), and from said couch to the living room (where he stopped equally short of a window by the staircase). He asked to see a video that, I've noted, has been taken down from YouTube. Charlie asked twice to type in the words that had once worked into the search box and looked straight at me when the one he was looking for did not show up. I sensed that he was breathing just a bit heavier.

'All done.' 

Charlie got up and ran across the room and stood looking at Jim and me, and said several 'I want's'. We both suspected he wanted another walk or thought he did; walks are certainly a good way to address that boisterousness. But it was already far past 10.30pm. I told Charlie that I'd get the timer and set it for 6 hours and then we could walk.

He smiled, and in a much more pleased way, when I handed him the iPod Touch. Jim and my parents and I went about our business, reading or doing this and that in the kitchen or on the computer; I wrote in my journal. Charlie stood looking at the shiny black screen, still seemingly content, for at least ten more minutes. Then he said,

'Bed time' and marched up to his room with the iPod Touch in hand.

I turned it off when it had run down to 4 hours and 52 minutes and a couple of seconds, at which point Charlie was quite soundly asleep, the iPod Touch tucked in amid his blankets and treasures (as my dad calls his things). Charlie has certainly gotten the concept of the timer, as far as how it offers a numeric, and visible, watchable, way of seeing time pass. And certainly the little device has given Jim and me a way to communicate to Charlie that he can't go out on a walk at any old hour, that sometimes he just has to stay in the house. I know there's a lot of other things most people would do with an iPod Touch but believe me, what our 'iPod Timer' does for Charlie—telling him how long he has to wait and that waiting is necessary, and in a format that he's accustomed to and has faith in—is worth its weight in gold. 

Or at least, platinum. 

Or chocolate. 

3 Responses to “Master of Timing, & Timers”
  1. Barbara says:

    Depending on your values, gold, platinum and chocolate are equal. 😉
    Charlie’s faith is in the fact that he can expect the desired outcome when the timer goes off – yes? A tool (iPod) that makes that possible is indeed valuable.

  2. autismvox says:

    Yes, I think he’s really learned to ‘trust in timers.’ I’m going to have make sure that the battery is always charged, that’s for sure!

  3. Jill says:

    You mention “stomping.” Sue Senator talks a lot about her 20-something-year-old son with autism who does “happy stompies.” Do you think the attraction is something like deep pressure, soothing in a very intense physical way?

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