Morning Stars

Waiting for Dad

Charlie woke up at 4am on Wednesday morning. By 5am he and I were out walking under the stars. I sighted Orion and the Big Dipper and thought how, six or so months ago when such early, early morning walks had become quite frequent, those constellations had been some 180 degrees elsewhere in the sky.

We were back by 6. Jim had gotten up and was filling his bag with books. I made coffee and washed an apple, and Charlie shuffled in the refrigerator and heated up twonplates full of frozen food items. Jim was hurrying off in the cool, crisp air to catch the train by 6.30' and Charlie asked to get in the white car and I said, sure—I was thinking, we might as well get an early start as the morning traffic has been very bad and Charlie has been late almost every day.

Too, Charlie had out on the same green shirt and blue shorts that he had worn on Tuesday, and that he has been insisting on wearing. I got his iPad, turned on the Tap Speak Button app, and recorded this phrase: 'Before I go to school I change my clothes.' Charlie repeated this phrase after pressing the big blue button. I placed a clean set of clothes near him and he said 'no, no.' I left the room (had to drink some of that coffee, you know). When I returned, Charlie had changed into the new set of clothes and was smiling. so I had too humor him and told him, fine to sit in the car. I set the timer and did some things and we went at 7.15am which is early, considering school starts at 8.45am for Charlie.

I wouldn't say the four hours flew by, but they did pass in a quite pleasant way, given the circumstances. There was (of course) no traffic on the route to charlie's school. We stopped for a bagel (Charlie did not want one, I did), and then I felt adventurous and we went to the drive- thru ATM and then –as Charlie indicated the direction–the public middle school he had attended under very unideal circumstances a year ago. Charlie looked as I drove and then we stopped for a lemonade. By then only 15 minute remained and to school we went.

I felt very relaxed about those four plus hours with my new teaching schedule. I did go into work after dropping Charlie off but attending meetings and advising students one on one is not the same as teaching Elementary Latin for 30.

Charlie stayed awake the whole day (yes I did too). He was very eager for a bike ride once home and helped bring out the bikes from the shed in our back yard. Then he stood on watch, looking up the street for Jim. 12 miles and some dinner later, Charkie settled on the old blue couch. He wanted to watch videos and I showed him the iPad. He does fine typing on the touchscreen keyboard, not missing a letter, but the different format and layout are going to take getting used to. Indeed, the iPad is going to take a lot of getting used to for Charlie.

Of course there is no rush. Am certainly not going to insist that Charlie watch videos.

I had downloaded a Tangram puzzle on the iPad as Charlie had long like shapes. He placed his head on a blanket and watched as triangles, a square, and a diamond appeared on the screen, and then, slowly and surely, he was asleep in the corner of the couch. It was not even 8pm.

He stirred about an hour later and went straight to bed in his room. And I thought about the four hours in the predawn and early morning together, and the sight of Charlie peering down our street to catch sight of Jim, and how it had been a day of go go go, straight through, and how just trying to figure out where things are, and what they are, on the new little, machine can be taxing on Charlie.

Or perhaps it's rather like looking up in the night sky to see the constellations. You see the phenomena and know there are patterns and you tug at your mind to see the structure that is there, and sometimes, you need to look elsewhere for a bit. And when you look back, you see it all.

5 Responses to “Morning Stars”
  1. emma says:

    Great example of using the Tap Speak Button. It occurred to me yesterday that it should not have been too difficult for previous school to have tried a simple one message switch such as Big Mac with Charlie. I know it can be very difficult to get any form of AAC in schools for any child, but would I be right in saying it is a more neglected area when a child has an autism diagnosis?
    An early start but a fine morning it turned out to be!

  2. autismvox says:

    (Thanks for reading the post even though, in its first version, the formatting was a mess! Fixed now.)
    I’m glad you noted that because if there’s one thing that we’ve heard ‘no, he doesn’t need that’ about Charlie, it is AAC! He really does need time to ‘process,’ adjust, accommodate. If I had asked Charlie about changing his clothes, especially if I had done so a couple of times, I am sure he would have been quickly irked, with not so great results.

  3. emma says:

    I had to squint a bit to read it:)

  4. Linda says:

    “And when you look back,you see it all”.
    Love how you and Charlie sync.
    PS Have you tried a keyboard dock for the Ipad?

  5. Barbara says:

    Tying the constellations to Charlie’s learning – quite beautiful.

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