Kristina Chew

photo (c) 2011 Kristina Chew

It is the eternal conundrum. The same day your child has a mammoth, sweaty evening behavior storm was the day he biked the most ever in one week (172 miles), said some nice longer phrases in response to his dad’s questions about ‘where are we going,’ pedaled two miles in a downpour while he and Jim were on the bike path, told us in the middle of a car ride that he needed ‘bathroom.’

Some separate the ‘bad’ from the ‘good’ things their child does, as if to say the former are ‘not the child but the autism.’ We’ve become rather inclined to say that what Charlie does, is what Charlie does. The real Charlie is a messy and complex mix, accomplishing lovely feats and then all wound up in storming.

Perhaps the effort to do all those great things — plus yestrday’s anxiety of waiting for dad — causes Charlie immense stress and it gets bottled up, to emerge in a great whoosh, for all our careful efforts to explain with social stories and calendars and pictures?

It’s a conundrum that we’ll keep working at, together with our boy.


This essay was previously published at