Friday, April 30, 2010

I know I promised more posts about Autism Awareness and I apologize for not posting sooner. The way I see it..this cause should not be limited to a 30 day spotlight during the month of April, this should be something focused on year long!

Before we get going to far into this blog, if you like any of the items pictured here they are click-able and will take you to the shop where you can purchase them.

What I could do right now is start throwing statistics at you and different figures and a ton of medical jargon. I would hope that you would read through it but I know that those types of posts become dry and hard to read through because they don't grab you and pull you in. It's hard to understand any medical condition reading the medical dictionary definition of it.

I think the best way to help people understand Autism and its affects on people and family is to tell you how it has affected me.

As I mentioned in my previous blog I have a younger brother with Autism, to be more specific he has Asperger's Syndrome. I have other family members with Autism but they are a lot younger than me so by the time they came around and were diagnosed I knew what Autism was. This is why I want to talk to you about my brother. I had no idea what Autism was when we were growing up and I think it's imperative to explain my learning process because you might be able to relate better to that.

I don't know where to begin so bare with me. I can't remember too far back so I'll start where I remember. When I was about 5 or 6 and he was 3 or 4 I knew he was different than me and that he handled situations differently. I remember other kids being stand offish to him because he talked in such a high pitch voice and sometimes too fast to understand. He would throw tantrums when people didn't listen to him or couldn't understand him. When my Dad would leave (he was in the Army and went TDY often) his way of coping would be to bite me and so I was very angry because I didn't understand why he would do these things and why he couldn't just stop.

What I didn't realize was he is just like me, he is a person with feelings and emotions and he reacts differently. He handles his emotions in his own way, there is no book that says how we are supposed to be how we are supposed to react and feel about things. There is no book that dictates "normal".

When we were younger I didn't want to play with him a lot because when I did other kids wouldn't play with me and we were both picked on a lot. It wasn't until I was older that the protector role kicked in. I think I was 8 when that happened. I don't remember exactly what happened but I remember one of the older girls in the neighborhood saying something mean to him. He cried and started screaming at her not screaming anything just screaming with his hands over his ears and she started pointing and laughing. I grabbed his hand and stuck my middle finger up at her. (Mind you I had no idea what that meant, just knew that it wasn't nice)

It took my beloved brother a lot longer to learn certain things, like shapes and colors and reading. If he didn't want to learn it he refused for the most part to even try. He would tell people he couldn't read and wouldn't read when it came to school but he could tell you what a billboard about a movie said. To him that wasn't reading, he was looking at something he liked and just knew what it said. There were plenty of teachers too who didn't understand him and didn't bother to take the time to understand him. There were teachers who were downright mean to him, taking his lunch from him in kindergarten as punishment because he didn't behave the same way other kids did.

It breaks my heart to look back and see all the years he spent growing up being misunderstood because he wasn't "normal". He didn't have a lot of friends growing up but he didn't really seem to care either. He was just fine playing by himself, making up his own stories and going along with them. He would try to make friends but kids would shun him and turn away. He laughed at inappropriate times, obsessed over random things, wanted to hug too much...

Even as we were older and I started to become more familiar with the term Autism and what that meant there were things he did that would grate on my nerves. I would leave a pot of water on the stove to boil and ask him to check it as he walked through the kitchen to see if it was ready and he would stand there and keep saying ," Tiff, the water is boiling....the water is boiling...did you hear me? I said the water is boiling..are you coming to check on the water???" or when we'd leave the house he'd be afraid the door would be left open or come open and the dog would run away, he'd have to get out of the car and check for himself.

Some people would see these things as flaws but I see them as things that make him unique!

He may not be a whiz kid when it comes to Math and you might not catch him reading Shakespeare without a stutter trying to figure out what a word is or what it means but I guarantee you ask him any movie related question and he could write you a book. Movies are his thing and he is an amazingly talented writer! He writes his own unique awesome screenplays (with the help of spellcheck and some proofreading). I wouldn't be surprised if he went on to become a famous director!

He's not bad at all. If you actually took the time, patience, and effort to get to know him you would have the most loyal and loving friend you could ever ask for. My brother is not diseased, he is not broken he does not need a cure nor does he need to be fixed or adjusted to fit into this mold society has created.

If we sought to "fix" these people so many things would be different. Did you know Albert Einstein was autistic? Did you know Thomas Edison was autistic?? The list goes on and the next time you meet someone who is Autistic think about those things.

I love my brother. I love my beautifully gifted Autistic brother. He is special, God made him unique..maybe we're the ones who have it all wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. :) I can relate to SO MUCH of that. Even as a mother it took a long time to figure out what to make of it all, how to discuss it with other moms at the playground, etc. I am grateful that we have a month designated to teaching others how to understand it. :) Thank you ... and thanks for including my quote canvas!!!