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Greyson and the Garbage Man

July 26, 2013

On Thursday, NBC Nightly News aired a segment on 4-year-old Greyson and his connection with the man who drives the neighborhood garbage truck.



The following was originally posted in the Fresno Bee as 'Greyson and the garbage man: A man's kindness bridges child's autism,' by Barbara Anderson.

Chrissy Kelly and son Greyson never missed the garbage truck on Wednesday afternoons as it rumbled into their Copper River Ranch neighborhood.

At the first screech of the brakes on the street, Kelly would grab Greyson's hand and run outside to the curb where her son would flap his arms -- a sure sign of delight -- stomp his feet and squeal.

They didn't know the garbage man's name, but Greyson, 4, always waved to him.

Frank Diaz, 53, noticed the woman and little boy who were waiting every week when he turned onto their block in his city of Fresno green-waste truck. He would return a friendly wave.

Week after week, this casual interaction played out -- a wide-eyed boy and a middle-aged garbage man exchanging waves. It could have remained that way, but last month, a small act of kindness brought them close together.

"Trash truck Wednesdays" had become a special day for Greyson, who has autism. He was fascinated with the garbage truck. A preoccupation with vehicles is common among children who have autism.

Many children with autism struggle to communicate and Greyson is no exception, speaking only a few words. "Truck" has been his favorite word since he was a toddler, said Kelly, 39. He will repeat it over and over, but on one Wednesday, as Diaz's truck approached, Greyson said more -- "I want truck" -- his first sentence.

Kelly was dumbfounded. Hours of therapy five days a week had improved his word vocabulary but had not produced a sentence, and yet, somehow, the sound of the garbage truck "kind of broke into this world of his," she said.

Kelly, a professional photographer, grabbed her camera when she heard the garbage truck approaching June 26. She wanted to capture Greyson's excitement for her blog, a chronicle of the family's journey with autism. Greyson's younger brother, Parker, 2, also shows signs of having autism.

Read more here.