A week or so ago I suggested to Joshua that some of my readers would appreciate some insight as a brother to a sibling with special needs. He laughed at me (in his oh so charming teenage way) as if I said something totally ridiculous. The next day Accidental Expert
posted on Autism Sucks Rocks
calling on siblings to answer the very questions I told Joshua I'd like him to answer.
Me: Joshua, remember how I told you I probably had readers who would appreciate a guest post from you?
Ironically, I just read another blog today in which a mom is calling on siblings to answer some questions. 'Wow, Mom, you are so good. You're now able to predict the ending BEFORE the show even begins.'
Why, yes, Joshua, I'm really that good. I predicted a parent might want to hear from a sibling even before I read it in another person's blog. ( Josh and my husband hate watching TV or movies with me. Often I can predict the ending before the beginning credits run.) Josh:
Okay, you'll have something from me before the end of Saturday night. Me:
?!?!?! Josh: Just eats dinner as if the sky isn't falling. Me:
What is it going to cost me? Josh:
I figure you've done a lot for me over all these years. Me:
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So here we have it. Before the end of Saturday, no less. At least I think, I went to bed at 11:00 p.m. and he was just sitting down to work on it.
"Well let’s see, I have been my brother’s brother for almost 10 years now. Within the last 5 we have known of his autism and it’s only been within the last 3 have I truly come to terms with the differences between us.
To directly answer the question, I would say the best thing that my parents did that help me become more aware of Jonathan’s special needs was to sit me down and tell me what went on at his doctor appointments. For me it seemed more real to hear the words “The doctor says Jonathan will probably react better to you if…” This helped me realize that my brother’s problems were real and not just a way for my parents to divert attention away from me. Other things that would help are when one or both of my parents did things just for me. They would take me out to eat or to a movie and they would tell me, “We spend a lot of time with your brother’s needs, we love you just the same and we appreciate your patience with the situation.” Not only did this give me the warm fuzzys (no matter how hardcore any kid tries to be they will always melt a bit when you tell them you love them) but it also gave me a sense of duty or a sense that I was helping the situation, everyone likes to help.
I love my brother, when he was first born I was so excited, I seldom let him out of sight and would always want to hold him or sit with him. As he got older however the meltdowns would occur more and more. I wouldn’t resent the time I spent with him. I’d get kinda frustrated when out of no where he would cry for hours on end because he couldn’t have salsa with his chips. There’s such an age gap between me and my brother though. Whenever he was being unreasonable at least to my standards I felt like I could always do something to entertain myself without him to let him cool down.
It has made me aware of other disabilities. I can now tell when people have experienced firsthand the disabilities they comment on. You can easily tell when a person comments on disabilities that have never been exposed to people with them. Those are usually the people that make smart or rude comments about people who aren’t normal to their standards. If its one thing I have learned because of my brother’s autism is that there is no standard of normalness in life. Everyone is different, and I have come to the realization that everyone is flawed somehow. For my brother it’s his autism, for me it’s my fear of un-acceptance. As people we should all accept the flaws in one another, I think it will truly keep relationships close and lively. "
So there you have it, in Joshua's own words. I didn't tell him what he could or couldn't write. Didn't even give him any direction, other than to print off the blog entry from Autism Sucks site. Here is a current picture of Jonathan and Josh:
And some pictures of Josh and Jonathan in the younger years.
You remember these days, when the boxes were better than the gift. This is actually Jonathan's new car seat since Faith would soon be arriving and needing an infant carrier.
Sadly, this was not an unusual picture at this stage. If Joshua was on the ground, Jonathan was sitting on top of him. Joshua learned to be on his stomach if he was on the ground.
This was back in the day when I could easily get the annual Christmas picture. I'm so thankful for digital cameras now so the first dozen pictures of trying to get three children to look at the camera and smile at once...
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In case you were wondering. We got all the way to 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon before Joshua tried to call in a chip for his guest post.
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