Remembering Dick Van Dyke

The attached letter describes an experience our autistic grandson recently had with Dick Van Dyke who lives in Malibu.

Because Mr. Van Dyke worked and lived in Carefree and Cave Creek, I thought it might be of interest to your readers, though I realize that was a very long time ago.

“Dick Van Dyke brings joy to autistic boy

Dick Van Dyke is a 93-year old wonder.

He serenaded our 11 year old autistic grandson Charlie who lives in Malibu with his mom and dad. Charlie is nonverbal but does have some communications/signing skills.

Charlie was with Kelly, his home aide, at a local Malibu shopping center after their hike when Kelly heard a man shout out at her, “Your kid should be in pictures!”

Kelly, who knows Mr. Van Dyke through her father who worked in the motion picture business for the past 35 years, explained who Charlie is to her mentioning he loves music.

So Mr. Van Dyke broke out into song for Charlie. First he sang “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from the Mary Poppins movie and then he sang “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Me Ol’ Bam-Boo.” All the while, Charlie sat—totally enthralled–next to Mr. Van Dyke. At one point, Charlie leaned against him, asking for, and receiving a head rub. (Head rubs are a significant sign of acceptance and affection for Charlie. He lets you know he wants one by grabbing your hand and placing it on his head and if it’s not exactly where he wants it, he moves your hand until you get it right.)

As they were getting ready to leave, Charlie asked for a hug and got that too.

With the day-to-day challenges our daughter faces raising an autistic child, Mr. Van Dyke’s loving kindness to Charlie brightened our life and warmed our hearts.”

Mary Lee B. Simpson