Prepositions (#526)
In My Hands (#528)

Framing the Circle (#527)

Charlie has a thing for circles, why I do not know.
The brilliant white swirl of stars and galaxies and comets in the lower right corner of his spaceship puzzle. He puts this part of the puzzle together first and pauses to contemplate it, on hands and knees.

The gluten-free bagels that Charlie has developed a great liking for.

The spikey circle he squashes his mondo-sized green squishy ball into and stares at.

The Van's brand frozen gluten-free waffles he used to eat by the boxful.

The blue construction paper oval our original lead therapist made for him to learn the word "oval" with, back in the late fall of 1999, in St. Paul.

The green and blue tire of a car-shaped rug he used to have in his room in St. Louis, spring of 2000, and that he used to stare and stare at, and that was the first thing I saw him hit his head on.


The tires on the picture of a bike on the cover of Go Fly a Bike!, the book he chose at the library tonight when I said "choose a book!".

Knowing Charlie's liking, sometimes near-physiological craving for a certain kind of order, for structure, it makes sort-of-sense (the kind you get used to thinking with in Autismland) that Charlie would have a thing for circles. The circle has a kind of fearful symmetry, perfect in proportion. The circle is the most perfect figure, and its motion the most perfect in Plato's Timaeus, which details his cosmology---his account of the formation of the universe, the kosmos in ancient Greek----and the word kosmos means "order" and, indeed, a "beautiful order."

Charlie did a lot of staring at these various circles today, which was one of his tougher days after the Thanksgiving holiday, with the approach of the December holidays, my parents' Tuesday departure. "Caleeforya! cake!" Charlie said over and over at school, where he was edgy and threw himself on the floor when another student cried. He smiled boarding the bus and then went frantic when the big green squishy ball could not be found: Charlie likes his circles, but some kind of obsession and worry is attached to them, and it may be time to store away that ball----at least so the three of us can stop worrying over where it is at all times.

I think, I wonder: Is there something about that perfect order of the circle that Charlie needs more to feel his vision with, to look into, on the days when disorder and ruckus and uncertainty swirl and lap all around him? To center him and help him keep things together in their frame?

The therapist put the squishy balls in another room while Charlie did ABA and his session ended peacefully. He ran nervously into the kitchen and looked in the refrigerator. We practiced piano and then I explained that we needed to go to the library and then come home not for the vague notion of "dinner" but something a lot more concrete: a piece of salmon I had found in the freezer.

"Sammon fissh!" smiled Charlie.

I guess you could say, I just try to help Charlie complete his circles---frame chaos into fearless symmetry---every day.


Laura Cottington

And yes, Kristina, that you do. You help Charlie through it all every day. May the circle never be unbroken.


Hi Kristina,

Big Brother loves fish as well. I was thinking of Charlie yesterday as K.C. was looking through the pages of a book. He found Big Brother's Bob books. They are super good books and I bet Charlie would like them. When the time comes I am going to try to use them with K.C. too. They are here

Kristina Chew

One keeps trying, day in and day out.......thanks for the book recommendations!


Bob books would be great. One syllable words, easy vowels. I second that recommendation!

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