Camp Charlie MMX, Day 1: Making Our Way
Barney and Alphabert

To My Fellow Travelers & Commadres in Autismland

I have added a list of blog-friends, Fellow Travelers & Commadres in Autismland, over in the right sidebar-->.  I linked to some of your blogs and sites sometimes using the actual name of your blog/site and sometimes using your name. There's not any particular rhyme or reason to it; hope what you see is all right. I've moved around a bit since I started blogging five summers ago and think I'm going to be settled writing here for the near and not-so-near future.

I've listed everyone alphabetically, which makes for a long list. If you don't see yourself listed there (I know I have not mentioned someone, argh!), please leave me a note with your site in the comments to this post and I'll get a link up pronto.

I know the long list is a bit unwieldy. But I like having everyone whose blog, website, writing, life has somehow intersected with our corner of Autismland all in one space (that is, list), with parent blog next to that of self-advocate next to an autism book next to whatever site happened to be next, alphabetically. I like the juxtapositions and combinations, rather than pigeonholing blogs and sites into neat categories.

Too, unusual and unexpected juxtapositions are the norm in the life of our little family.

On our kitchen table if the 'I can set the table' placemat an ABA therapist bought years ago for Charlie is the latest volume of the Transactions of the American Philosophical Association (TAPA---with 'fun' articles on topics like the law of contracts in post-classical Athens (high time I started prepping my fall semester courses, you know); an IKEA catalogue (that we've absolutely no plans of ordering anything from, or using for interior decorating inspiration---three people in a smallish house with an awful lot of books and papers and things makes for inevitable clutter, but there is an order to it and a little clutter is not a bad thing for Charlie with his rage for order); the schedule for the town pool that Charlie has refused to swim in all summer; party favors from my California cousin's daughter's 21st birthday; a basket I think someone gave us full of something besides the paper napkins it now contains for our wedding; a pinwheel from a gift bag from one of Charlie's classmates' mothers; two dollar bills that, having been 'laundered,' are drying.

(Actually, all of my cousins, except for one, are California cousins. But I digress.)

The table itself has been put to a lot of different uses since my parents first bought it for me from the Conran's in New Haven, Connecticut. It was the kitchen table in my first apartment and supported many a dinner party with my grad student friends as well as hosting a few other portentous encounters. When my French computer science neighbor sublet my apartment for his parents to stay in one summer, they or he wrote a telephone number on something that must have been rather thin, as the numbers are permanently etched into the wood. I wrote my dissertation on this table (using the first, steel grey Powerbook) and the table was carted around from Connecticut to Massachusetts to Missouri to Minnesota and then all over New Jersey. Jim and I dined on that little table when we first lived together and in post-wedding, pre-Charlie days, and Charlie sat at it, propped up in his teddy bear print high chair. After many more (sometimes messy, sometimes merry, sometimes--le sigh---morose) meals, Jim used the table to write the early drafts of his book. When we lived in Jim's parents' house, the table again became my desk---a small piece of familiarity---and then again was Jim's in our apartment (the one where the neighbor informed us after a very days that we needed to cut down on the stomping) and then was plunked into the back of the black car and brought back to our house, to be a kitchen table once more.

I'm not sitting at the table to write this (a laptop is a laptop). But just as my---our---kitchen table is where so much from so many corners ends up in our house, so this blog is for me a kind of catch-all space to try to bring together the bits and bobs of our life. Obviously the focus is on Charlie and autism. But when writing about autism, there's a lot more to talk about than what Googling produces.

Like country roads (complete with hay bales) in lovely central Jersey.

Jim noticed the hay in the background of this photo and Charlie started saying 'hey!'

Like boys on bikes. (Well, I guess I've rather made this a theme in these parts.)

My gazillionth photo of Jim and Charlie riding bikes
Charlie helped us out immensely: He'd gotten into the car at 8.30am, ready to go on another (promised-the-night-before) biking adventure. I suspect he remembered that we'd forgotten the bike helmets last Sunday and had to double-back home for them: Yesterday, as Jim and I were loading up the bikes, Charlie got out of the car, ran inside, and returned, with the helmets. I'd say it's his job now to remember them!

He and Jim did the country bike path so handily, Jim led Charlie down the streets of the little town and around over a bridge and back up onto the path, to make the ride some 12 miles. They also did another 10-miler in the late afternoon on their 'home course.'

After traveling on different paths, it is good to be home. So says the ancient Roman poet Catullus:

o sweet gatherings

of fellow travelers,

be well! once

you all took to the road,

went away from home.

different the roads

that bring you back

from different quarters.

from Catullus, poem 46.9-11


However, friends you got here, thank you.

A country road going somewhere in New Jersey

(Translation of the rest of Catullus' poem 46 follows.)



Now spring brings back

its chilly warmth, now

the fury of the sky in Equinox

is hushed in Zephyr's

lolling breezes. Catullus,

leave the Phrygian fields

and the fertile plain,

summer-steamy Nicaea's.

Let's fly away to Asia's

famed cities! Now the mind

is set a-tapping, anxious,

yearning to roam; now

full of joy and eagerness

feet can't wait to move.

o sweet gatherings

of fellow travelers,

be well! once

you all took to the road,

went away from home.

different the roads

that bring you back

from different quarters.



Iam ver egelidos refert tepores,
iam caeli furor aequinoctialis
iucundis Zephyri silescit auris.
linquantur PhrygiiCatullecampi
Nicaeaeque ager uber aestuosae:
ad claras Asiae volemus urbes.
iam mens praetrepidans avet vagari,
iam laeti studio pedes vigescunt.
o dulces comitum valete coetus,
longe quos simul a domo profectos
diversae variae viae reportant.




Please receive my gratitude in return, kristina.

I visited the two blogs listed next to mine. Juxtaposition indeed!

The poem is lovely and somewhat overwhelms me when I think of these words coming from someone who lived millenia ago - humanity has not changed so much, has it? And I am overwhelmed by your abilities in languages, kristina.

However I got here, I am grateful.


Hey, I'm a contender!

Kristina Chew

But of course!

I saw that you're speaking at the World Congress on Disabilities--I won't be able to be there but look forward already to your posting about it (hope you will!).

Thank you about the poem; I read it first when I was in high school and all those words have stayed with me, though I certainly take much more meaning from them now than I did back then.

Needless to say, am very grateful always to hear from both of you. From everyone--

Lisa Jo

Thanks, Kristina, for including me on your list!

This looks like a lovely blog, and a great start to what will likely (someday) be a terrific book.

It's so hard to fully describe any life... and I have to say it's especially hard to describe life with a disabled child who is also a person who enjoys life.

Good luck with you new venture!

Lisa Rudy


There are some good places to ride near Hopewell, NJ, where I live. My hubby, who belongs to several bike clubs, often rides in the Sourlands. There are nice bike paths in Kingston, Rocky Hill, Griggstown (Great farmers' market there) and the surrounding little towns.
If you go to Hopewell, dubbed the Vermont of NJ by the NY Times, you should definitely check out Nomad pizza. For my money, Nomad and DiLorenzo's in Trenton make the best pizza in NJ.
If you don't want to eat in the dining room at Nomad, and it can get crowded; seating is mainly family style at a long table, you can eat outside on the patio or, probably best for you and Charlie, you can order ahead and take your pie to go.
There are concerts at the bandstand and it's a fun place to hang out with your pizza.
Bicycling is a wonderful exercize and it's something that Charlie can enjoy for his entire life. If you add beautiful scenery and safe bike trails (many are old rail lines) you have the perfect ingredients for peaceful easy feeling-ness, IMHO.

Kristina Chew

Think I'm going to take you up on those ingredients, and bike paths....

@Lisa Jo,
Always good to hear from you! Thanks much and thanks of course for all your hard work blogging over the years at

Bonnie Sayers (autismfamily)

I have the IKEA catalogue - only been there once - they are in Burbank, but Nick wants to go there to see what it is like as he loves the commercials.

Thanks for the corrected link. I got a jury summons today - starts same day school starts in four weeks.

Kristina Chew

Just what you need, that jury summons..... Charlie used occasionally to visit IKEA with us but it's a place of extreme and absolute sensory overload. Definitely not for him and we certainly are not in need of any furniture!

Melanie Harper

Funny that you mention IKEA as overstimulation - The Boy loooves the Atlanta IKEA since it has both escalators and elevators, 2 highly-valued items in his world. Last time we were there, we'd gone with a friend and her (mostly NT) son, and we experimented with leaving both boys in the childcare area for a little while. They had so much fun, and it was a first for them both. You never know when a little victory will appear!

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