Always With You (in traffic; with iPad)

A bike ride right before the rain Charlie and I left for school at the (much more reasonable time of) 7.50am on Thursday morning. This meant that we didn't have to go out of our way to kill any time as, the later we leave, the more traffic—in the form of cars gridlocked on streets not made for such—we run into.

Charlie was cheery and looking around as the jazz (slightly dissonant) played from the radio. We stopped at a yellow light rather than block an intersection and then barely made the next green as cars came turning from a couple of directions.

Cry from the backseat, bang bang, cry.

Just as I drove onto a particularly narrow part of the street with another car squeezing in on my left. 

I don't remember what I said, or if I said anything. Charlie let out a howl and, my right arm reaching back to him, I drove very slowly and calculated if it would do any good to pull into someone's very narrow, leafy driveway—to abandon the white car to go for a walk a foot from the stream of cars?

'Barney,' Charlie cried. 'Barney! All done Barney.'

'Barney's all with you,' I said. 'Always.' And then, 'We're always with you.'

'Barney!' said Charlie. Then, after a pause, 'Farm Families!'—a Milton Bradley game with plastic animals, plastic haystacks, and the song 'Old McDonald Had  a Farm' that Charlie played, and loved, obsessively, to the point that we had to let go of the game. 

'Yes, Farm Families,' I said. Charlie was back sitting in his seat and we were again stopped in the line of cars. I pulled out the iPad from my bag, turned it on, got on the Internet, Googled 'Farm Families game,' downloaded an image of the game, and handed the iPad back to Charlie. 

He grabbed both sides and stared down at the image, so big and clear.

'Farm Families,' said Charlie. 'Farm Families.'

'Yes,' I said. 'We don't have that game anymore, but we sure have good memories of it.'

'Don't have it. Have it anymore,' said Charlie.

'Yes, but you can always look at the picture,' I said. And then, 'and Barney is always with us too.'

'Barney,' said Charlie. 

'Yes, we can get photos of Barney too.'

Charlie held the iPad on his lap all the way to school and started tapping the screen and pulling up more images, including some of his favorite Vietnamese summer rolls and Chinese chow fun noodles. 

'Spring rolls. Noodles,' he said.

'We can get those. Someday,' I said and we finally crossed the local state highway and started moving faster.

Charlie was happy when we got to school and got right to work, his teacher emailed me. He had one moment of anxiety around 1.30pm, but this passed as quickly as the morning's 'incident' in the car.

And, Charlie rode the bus home today and did, to quote the bus aide, 'great'—yes, indeed. Oh yes.

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Comments
12 Responses to “Always With You (in traffic; with iPad)”
  1. feebee says:

    I think we may need an iPad.
    Yay bus! I’m impressed. I thought it would take much longer for them to, ah, get with the program. WTG BAC.

  2. KWombles says:

    Yay for the bus ride going well!
    Do you think that since the iPad worked well at calming Charlie that you’ll start the car rides with him having the Ipad from the beginning so that he’ll be able to distract and self-soothe himself as he begins to get frustrated or anxious?

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Kristina and Charlie,
    Can you hear me applauding in California?
    Sarah

  4. Jill says:

    What made him upset? Being stuck in traffic? An episode of the new MTV show World of Jenks had the young filmaker Andrew Jenks spending a week with Chad, an 18-year-old autistic man. Jenks went to school with him, took him to Manhattan’s Little Italy (NOT a good idea) and filmed Chad’s bedtime routine )he sleeps on an air mattress on the floor of his parents’ bedroom.) If you haven’t seen it yet, you’d probably enjoy it. You can watch the episode on your laptop, since you don’t have a TV.

  5. Louise says:

    What a wonderful mother you are! You know just what to say to comfort him.
    Of course, we all need comforting now and again, and the kind words of another saying, “Those things you loved will always be with you,” seems to be the perfect panacea.
    Such a heart-filling story.

  6. a parent says:

    I have an iPad question for you. We have an iPad and my son is less than gentle with it. Over the last 6 months he’s used it a lot, but there are a few dents. The WiFi died and I took it to the apple store. They gave me a new one, but said that it needed to be treated more gently. That’s not really an option with my son. If I tell him to be careful it’s likely to make him throw the device.
    Are you using a case? I bought a hard shell one today, but I’m not sure of how well it will work. Did you buy some sort of service plan?
    I don’t think apple will give me another device if he breaks it again and it’s a fair amount of $ to replace it.

  7. We love our iPad. It’s really helpful. Except for those times when my son gets a little intense over it. I’ve been trying to put variations into his habits with it; like varying time limits depending on his behavior and sometimes he just doesn’t get it even if he DOES like to play right before school. Despite his SPD my son has been surprisingly good with routine changes… as long as I don’t let him get into habits he can obsess over.

  8. autismvox says:

    @feeble,
    The iPad has been better than anticipated– makes me wonder what it would have been like to have it years ago!
    @Louise,
    Thank you!
    @Jill,
    Will check that out…. Charlie definitely wants his own room, ok by me.
    @Kim,
    Charlie is still learning to push the button and ‘slide’ the (virtual) slider (sorry for language breakdown). I guess maybe the slider thing is not so easy to get as he doesn’t feel any part actually moving. I think when he gets that I’ll put the iPad with his stuff. He definitely figured out the button for photos on his own!
    @a parent,
    Oh boy, I have a lot to say about broken devices after being cast into the air….. We did buy Apple Care though I don’t think throwing is covered by it (I have Apple Care for the laptop that went flying last spring and the Genius bar Tolstoy me, throwing ain’t covered). Still we got it and a case, a silicon one from Incase.
    I have more to say about this. I admit, I gestated about an iPad because it seems pretty easy to throw.
    Glad the dote gave you a replacement.
    @theweirdgirl,
    That is totally the same with Charlie– we have to watch out for him getting into habits he might obsess about. It’s gotten a bit harder now that he is older and has more a sense of wanting to be independent. Will try to do as you are….. I’ve been thinking of doing things like changingbthe photos constantly on the iPad; will keep the ones Charlie likes (those summer rolls) but rotate things. He still refuses to watch videos on it–he really associates those with using a laptop.

  9. Life Skills Teacher says:

    Just wanted to thank you for all your recent iPad advice. I’ve started using mine more in school, and my students are really responding positively.

  10. Kent Adams says:

    @Kristina
    “song ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’ that Charlie played, and loved, obsessively, to the point that we had to let go of the game. ”
    I’ve had to do this many many times with things that became obsessive but it breaks my heart each time I do it. My son’s life is hard enough but to take a away things he loves because they make him unfunctional is really difficult.
    @parent You asked for a good protective case. Here is one and you can’t beat it, no pun intended:
    http://www.amazon.com/Otterbox-APL2-iPAD1-20-C4OTR-iPad-Defender-Case/dp/B003TVWNAM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1284763062&sr=8-1
    You would have to drop the case from 3 or 4 floors up to dent the iPad with this thing on it.

  11. autismvox says:

    @Kent,
    Thanks! I just ordered an otter box case.

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  1. […] Lately, Charlie seems to be doing ‘pretty okay’ with things. There was that tough moment in traffic Thursday before last and some, ah, hijinks the day after, largely due, it seems, to stomach distress (and […]



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