Wish List (#165)

If you could wish for one thing–for your child, for you–what would it be?
“What does Charlie want for Christmas?” my California relatives have been asking me. “Or should we just send money,” my Aunt Mal inquires in her monthly notes to me.

What do you want? What do you want? What do you want?”

Jim and I have said to a boy who couldn’t stop crying, reaching for the air, imploring with those big brown eyes; teachers and every single therapist have asked him, cheerily and brightly; we all have said when Charlie says what clearly must be a word to him–such conviction in his tone–but sounds like gobbledygook. Vowels in a melody vaguely Irish, with pipes and bodhran.

Charlie can talk–the payback of all those hours, days, now years of ABA and speech therapy and attending to his smallest utterance–but these are still times, like this afternoon at school, when he cries for 25 minutes and has to be kept in a chair and cries more, for a reason that is not obvious. After talking to his teacher over the phone after school, I thought of three things that might have disrupted Charlie’s day: 1) I overslept and got him up at the last possible minute; 2) the bus driver, noting that Charlie had been kicking her seatback, wanted him to sit in the back row of the minivan–the aide grabbed Charlie by the coat as he hopped onto his seat and marshalled him into a strange new seat, where Charlie went all big-eyed (I stood feeling rising worry; aide training is happening Monday); 3) friendly phone call–happily received by Charlie–from my parents at 9pm on Wednesday night, just as we were trying to get Charlie into bedtime mode.

“No. No. No,” said Charlie when I told him it was time to get in the black car and drive the hour for his verbal behavior session. He did get in and spent most of the ride bent over double, his long fingered-hands bent, his face invisible. Once past the Somerville circle, he sat up straight and had a happy, hard-working session with Miss Cindy–did sorting, imitation with objects, answering personal questions, danced. We drove home through what the meteorologists call “wintry mix” and stopped to get gifts for the office staff at my job, and sushi for Charlie (who was so tired he needed a reminder pat to move through the aisles).

Charlie fell asleep on the big blue pillow in the therapy room, as he listened to his favorite songs. That room has everything an 8-year-old could want, computer and iPod mini and books and drawing materials, a circus set, dress-up clothes, trains & cars, Legos, puzzles, CD’s, DVD’s, Neat Stuff, and a lovely view from the windows, and more. If we go to Target or Toys ‘R’ Us and Charlie starts to toy with something, we get it. Though, when we ask Charlie what he wants, the answer is something he already has: “Green cookie. Black car. Burger ann fwies. Gong Gong Po Po Gramma Granpa! I want.”

When Charlie could not talk, I always wanted to say, “I wish that he could talk. I would give anything if he could talk.” And Charlie can talk, though his learning to talk has been a far more gradual and complicated process than the dream Jim had six years ago, in which Charlie was just “happy and he was talking and he said something to us.”

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He was just talking,” said Jim. “Charlie was just talking.”

I wish for Charlie to keep learning and for Charlie to have that peaceful easy-feeling , most of the time.

What do you wish for?

One Response to “Wish List (#165)”
  1. Judy says:

    I wish for continued success for you and Charlie.

    My oldest daughter, 15, has mild Asperger’s and I consider us so lucky. We always knew she was different in some way, but she was not diagnosed until she was 12. Unlike Charlie, she was an earlier talker. She has been a good student, and in many ways she copes well. But in many ways she stuggles on a daily basis with little things most folks take for granted.

    When I read about Charlie having to ride in a different seat on the bus–that kind of thing bothers my daughter greatly. She doesn’t like changes in routine. She has come a long way over the last few years.

    I think you’ll be pleased to see Charlie continue to grow and learn too. God Bless!

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