If Greg Could Talk

 

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he'd tell Jay and me to shut up whenever we argue.  "Dad, Mom....get a grip.   I'm tired of both of you."  Jay and I argue a lot, mostly about Greg's care.   Or, it seems that way.  Sometimes we argue just to argue.  Greg's heard it all.   Probably as sick of us as we are of arguing.

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he would say, "Hey!  Look at that!  I got a strike!" Instead, he walks back to us, waiting for me to make an X with my arms crossed and he makes one, too.  "Strike!"  I shout it, and Greg smiles.  Then Jay gives him a high five, and all is well.

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he'd say, " Hey!  Burping is a normal body function.  Chill out, Mom and Dad."   Instead he looks at us with boredom when we correct him in a restaurant for burping out loud.  He doesn't get it.  Other people and their reactions to his antics do not interest him.  Greg never gets embarrassed.   You'd think after 29 years, Jay and I would not get embarrassed, but we do.   From birth, social niceties are a part of our upbringing, and they are difficult to ignore.

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he'd say, "Work is great and all, but about once a month, I need to clear my head, so I fall asleep at work just to get sent home."  Greg is especially good at controlling his own needs and environment, often showing remarkable self-protection skills.

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he'd tell us why Sesame Street continues to be his favorite television program.  I'd love to know for sure why, but I must guess that the characters are engaging, the format is predictable and the show reaches autistic children at their level of learning along with a requisite amount of repetition necessary for all children to learn.  And for years, Bert and Ernie were his best friends.  He sketched them, he played with them and he spoke to them in his daily verbatim repetitions.

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he'd tell us why he is scared of that mousey character with the big snout on Ice Age.   I've got nothing to say about that one.   The answer is forever locked inside Greg.  Who knows why he freaks out every time that movie is playing?  He shouts, "No!" Then has an anxiety attack!

If Greg Could Talk

He'd tell me why he loves baking cookies for his roommates.   I believe he is proud to be the one to give his friends something of himself when he knows he cannot communicate with them.  I need my beliefs.

If Greg Could Talk

He'd tell me why he loves presents.  He loves getting them, ripping into them and ripping into more of them!  He never opens a box, just tosses it aside and opens another.  I've seen him open a dozen Christmas presents in under two minutes.   Maybe it's the thrill that all children feel when they get that special present?  But then why doesn't he gush and scream and run around all happy-like?  Children who can communicate would say, " Wow!  That's exactly what I wanted!"  Not Greg.  I really wish I knew what he wanted that made him obsessive about opening gifts.  Only then could I be certain that we didn't miss something he was unable to ask for.

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he'd explain all of his food issues over the years.   He'd say, "Remember those veggie gummi bears you bought for me to get some vegetables into my diet.   Well, I hated them!  That's why I swallowed them whole.   And gag them out.  And that broccoli Jay always teases me about?  I hate broccoli, will never eat broccoli and can't even stand to be in the kitchen when you are cooking broccoli!  Give up!"

If Greg Could Talk

Would he say, "Hey, Mom.  It's OK that you wrote a book about me. I think it's important to let other families know that they are not alone."  I'm so scared that when they find a cure for autism, Greg will read the book and ask me, " Why did you tell the story my pants on the ground?   Are you nuts?"

If Greg Could Talk

He'd tell me what he understands about death.  This one worries me the most.   Does he realize that Jay and I are getting older?   Does he understand that once we die, he will never see us again?  I want him to say, "It's OK, Mom.   I'll be just fine when you die.  I'll miss you, but my group home can take me bowling.  They can take me out to eat.   Adam can take me to the beach once a year to jump waves.   Aunt Cathy can take me to Adventure Sport.   She even gives me FOUR rides on the go-kart, not two, like you and Jay."  (My sister just admitted this one to me yesterday).   Greg needs to see us grow older and older, and that is my fervent prayer.  

If Greg Could Talk

I'm sure he'd continue to say, "Bye, Mom" before he obligatorily bends his forehead my way for a kiss good night when I drop him off at his group home every Sunday.  He'd then explain whether or not he tilts his forehead because I demand the kiss or because he needs one or whether he really wants to do this or just humor his mother, the crazy lady who he, undoubtedly, blames for his autism.  

On the other hand?   He has accepted his lot in life.  Maybe he doesn't blame me?!  He is happy.   We know this because we ask him if he is.  He shakes his head up and down.

If Only Greg Could Talk

There are so many things I'd like to know. Does Greg know that there are people who would steal him and that's why we watched him so carefully over the years?  Does he know that he is autistic?   Does he know how hard it was to take care of him?   Does he love us?  Does he know we will protect him until the day he dies? Jay and I tell ourselves that Greg does know the answers to all of these questions.  To think otherwise is unthinkable.

Take a breath, find the moments of pure bliss for your autistic child and enjoy the shared time.   Answer these, and all other questions, yourself.  It's OK to believe in miracles.

 

 What is the appeal? 

What is the appeal? 

At age 29, Greg still sketches Sesame Street characters, watches videos and take two stuffed "Ses guys" to work every Friday to help him transition into the week-end.  Why?  If only he could tell us....