That’s Why We’re Here (#351)

When Charlie first rode in the Ride for Autism two years ago, he and Jim did what they could of the shortest route, which is seven miles. A quick study of the map with the routes revealed that much of the ride would be on well-trafficked streets. So Jim improvised, and they did some of the route, and explored some quiet residential streets.
Today, they just did the regular course, which involved going up and down hills, snaking around a lake, and riding on the narrow shoulders of some streets, with Jim on the outside. “If that’s seven miles, then we must usually do twelve or thirteen,” said Jim as they rode up and Charlie told me “burgers wunssch!”

“We could have gone farther,” Jim noted as he loaded the bikes onto the bike rack as cyclists, spandex-clad and sleek-helmeted, walked by. Jim finds it best to ride beside Charlie: While Charlie knows to use the hand-brakes when Jim says “Stop sign! Squeeze brakes!”, Jim likes to be sure that the stopping occurs, and that Charlie (as he tends to like to do now) does not dash ahead.
Meaning that, if another cyclist on the Ride for Autism wanted to bike past Charlie, Jim (on Charlie’s left) was informed that he was in the way.

“Charlie has autism. That’s why we’re here,” said Jim to the now-flying-by-other cyclist.

It was the Ride for Autism. If I may brag, I would wager that Charlie was the youngest kid out there on the course, and he was not riding tandem behind Jim—he was on a bike big enough for my dad to try out in the parking lot.

Charlie was riding his own two-wheeler, his number flapping in the breeze.
Keep in mind not only that Charlie was one of the very, very few autistic children biking in the Ride for Autism but that Charlie is not “mild” and has never had a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. Charlie’s name and “autism”—“classic autism,” occasionally “getting towards the severe end”—not HFA—-have been often been linked. While Charlie and Jim were biking, I talked to some autism parents (all with children in their teens and twenties) and learned a lot. A reference to medication led to me sighing as I mentioned why we had gone that route; SIB’s cannot but arouse strong feelings in a mother who has witnessed her son doing them.
And then Charlie rode up, standing tall in the pedals in front of Jim, dismounted, kicked out the kickstand as Jim directed, and said “Hiii” to a sixteen year-old.

Charlie relished a post-ride lunch of hamburgers and French fries and later went on a second bike ride with Jim. My parents are leaving for California tomorrow and, while this has not been directly mentioned to Charlie, I know he knows, as he spent a good part of the day giving my mom extra hugs. (She in turn made sure to order “extra guacamole” with her dinner, all of which went to Charlie.) I have been assembling a growing pile of Things That I Hope Will Help Charlie At His New School On Monday: A red fleece blanket, a box of Capri Suns and his favorite rice crackers, flashcards he used in his Old School, a heavy binder with all the information about his academic and other programs that I xeroxed and hole-punched and that my mom loaded into a big binder to give to Charlie’s new teacher.

As Jim told the other cyclists, That’s why we’re here.

12 Responses to “That’s Why We’re Here (#351)”
  1. Mamaroo says:

    I was looking for you. I was looking for Charlie and Jim. I guess we missed each other. It was a beautiful day!

  2. We got there rather late—just before noon. How did it go?

  3. Sharon Faulk says:

    Very cool!

    I would love my boys to share my joy of riding. But I can’t get Andy to stop looking around and pay attention to where he is going. 😉

  4. Mothersvox says:

    Hooray for the cyclists! Will be thinking of you and Charlie as he starts the new school . . .

    And thanks for that link about PDD-NOS Dx . . . that’s the Dx they wanted to give Sweet M, and I thought it was “too extreme.” Silly me . . .

  5. Eli'smom says:

    Way to go Charlie! Remember when I asked about how to teach Eli how to brake? We are still working on it at the church parking lot down the street. He’s getting it, slowly. Most times though, he will deliberately run his bike into the surrounding hedge and then yell, “I’m okay!”
    Very proud of Charlie doing the Ride, though it sounds more like a walk in the park for him. Move over, Lance! There’s a new kid in town!

  6. Thank you for so many good wishes—-Eli’s mom, that is quite a story about him riding into the hedge! Sharon, Charlie could not ride without Jim beside him—–often I’ll see Charlie riding down the street fast, with his head turned behind him and Jim pedaling energetically to keep up. Mothersvox, thanks for thinking about us…….I am knocking on the proverbial wood!

  7. tina says:

    Cool. Check out this site from India. Great software for kids with autism etc….and parent blogs.

  8. Wade Rankin says:

    There’s a tendency for people who bike in charity rides to either concentrate on the fun of the festivities or to have an all-too-vague notion that they are “doing good.” We should all take a little pride in the ride of Charlie and Jim for their role in educating their fellow riders.

  9. vincent says:

    Katrina, Jim, & Charlie-

    Have a great Monday 🙂

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.


  10. Kristina, I followed your Ride for Autism link and found this in the description of COSAC:

    “COSAC encourages responsible basic and applied research that would lead to a lessening of the effects and potential prevention of autism.”

    Do you know what research studies COSAC is funding? “Prevention” often seems to be used as a code word for prenatal screening, and in my opinion, it belongs on your list of fighting words on Autism Vox. I know you don’t support eugenics research, and I hope your Ride for Autism donations are not being used to fund it.

    We all need to be very cautious in deciding what autism organizations we should support.

  11. Squaregirl says:

    That is just so fantastic! I am so proud of Charlie and so happy to hear about his presence in that ride!

    I wish you and Charlie the best during this time of transition!

  12. Bonnie, thanks for the observation—–some of the funds COSAC raises support research at UMDNJ.

    And thank you for the link to Jambav—I’m a subscriber.

    The Ride for Autism is a great event but I guess it is not entirely set up “for” autistic kids to participate—-I hope this might be a change made in the future.

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