In spite of John being 26, in recent weeks he has been possessed by the spirit of a teenager and he has almost stopped talking altogether, preferring instead to grunt.
John’s verbal skills have always been a challenge to the uninitiated, the grunting is now making it impossible for even me to decipher what he wants. The one saving grace is that he grunts in syllables so it gives me a slim chance at guessing some words.
Our conversation last Saturday morning went some thing like this…..
” Johnny boy are you ready for your breakfast?”
“Hot or cold juice?”
” erm is that hot?”
“John! hot or cold?”
“Oh for gods sake John just say hot or cold”
I gave up and went downstairs to make his breakfast. I decided on cold juice as it was a warm sunny morning. John refuses to eat anywhere but in the computer room and he bounces up and down on the wheelie chair as he excitedly anticipates his meals. We have to replace the chair every six months or so as it eventually ceases to spin and its back collapses and its arms fall off. I am much the same.
Breakfast is always met with much chortling and head slapping. He has mini Weetabix with chocolate chips, two rounds of buttered toast and a yoghurt. I hide his medication in his yoghurt with varying degrees of success. If he sees me doing it he won’t eat it. Over the years I have developed covert skills that would impress MI5.
Something else he has been doing more and more of lately, is insisting that I shut the door as soon as I enter a room, preferably with me on the other side of it. This as you can imagine is nigh on impossible, particularly if I am bringing him his meals.
Like Carson the butler I used to take John’s breakfast up to him on a tray, impart the days news and back out of the door with elegance and grace.
Now however I have to get in, put the tray down and get out again in less time than it takes for John to shout “Door” at the top of his voice, or “Ungh” if he is being a teenager. If I am not quick enough he tries to slam the door with me half in and half out of the room. Saturday was no exception.
I opened the door. “Ungh” shouted the teenager “Ungh”
In my panic to get the tray down and out of the room I caught the sleeve of my dressing gown on the door handle and threw the tray at the wall. Weetabix, buttered toast, the yoghurt with hidden meds and a cold juice all made pretty patterns as they slithered and dripped their way onto the carpet.
“Ungh” said the teenager as I gathered the smashed bowl and plate up and scraped yoghurt and butter up as best I could.
“Never mind bloody ‘Ungh’ ” I said, none too pleased. “Stop with all the shouting and demanding that I shut the door, its dangerous”
“Unghunghungh” he agreed, laughing hysterically and spinning on the wheelie chair.
I went back downstairs to get a second breakfast. Not wishing to risk another accident I opened the door, stood back and handed John the tray.
“This stops now John, do you understand? ” I looked at him sternly. Typically of an autistic person he couldn’t read my facial expression so he stuck his tongue out and yelped in delight.
“No more silly grunting, if you don’t try and say the words properly then I won’t listen. Do you understand?”
John nodded, slapped his thigh, my head and finally the desk to confirm his understanding of the situation.
It was my birthday weekend and Kelly and her boyfriend Adam were popping in to see us. John adores Kelly and Adam so I knew he would be so excited when I told him. I decided to try and do a deal with him and the teenager.
“Guess who’s coming to see us today John?” I couldn’t tell which of the two was looking back at me, John rocked gently back and forth as he thought about the question. I could tell that the teenager was lurking nearby so I pounced.
” If you don’t talk properly when they come then I will tell Kelly to go back home. Do you understand John.”
“Keyee, Adam, yesssss” squealed John as the teenager beat a hasty retreat with “Sweets, Keyee, yes peas” ringing in is ears.
I breathed a sigh of relief, I had exorcised the teenage spirit and I had my funny, chatty boy back. All this without a priest or a crucifix in sight.
A new career beckons surely.
John had a lovely time, Kelly and Adam took him to Sainsburys and several smelly shops to buy him some cd’s. They had also bought me a little smarties birthday cake, John blew the candles out and ate most of it. He didn’t grunt once and I was delighted.
Another surprise for John in the afternoon, Adam and Marie called in. He didn’t want to join us in the garden, choosing instead to stay in the computer room. They went up to see him and I checked for bruises and missing fingers before they left, just incase he had slammed the door on them, but they were both fine.
Dad was coming for tea, John had been asking what time he would be arriving by tapping my watch and saying “Gwaha” John speak for granddad.
John knew that he would be bringing him his favourite chippy tea of a large sausage, half fried rice, half chips. Or as John says ” Biiig sossy, wice and ships” all served with lashings of tomato sauce.
You would think he hadn’t eaten for a month.
Dad duly arrived and John was listening to Oh Little Town of Bethlehem being sung by Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck on YouTube. He yelled “Yingy bez’ or Jingle Bells’ as we know it, at the end of each verse. Mixing Christmas carols up is a particular talent of his.
Dad said he would take John’s tea up as he hadn’t seen him for a week. I heard him knock on the computer room door and then a loud bang. I ran upstairs as fast as I could, which if you know me is easier said than done. I arrived at the door of the computer room to be greeted with the sight of dad covered in chips and bits of sausage while the teenager was sat on the floor eating fried rice off the carpet with a spoon.
“Unghungh Ungh Unghungh ” he explained unnecessarily.