Sunday, June 17, 2012

The "A" Word

Recently at an autism support group meeting as I was tearfully talking about how hard it is to try and give equal attention to my 8 year old son, while trying to also handle his autistic 6 year old brother- another mom asked me a question that really stuck with me-

"Well, what do you tell your 8 year old about his little brother?"

Cue the chirping crickets.....

"I don't."

And then I really starting pondering why it is that I haven't. The "A" word had never even been mentioned to big brother.


As if not mentioning the word could somehow negate the fact that because of autism our entire household has been changed forever. Our oldest has taken on  responsibilities that he probably wouldn't have had to otherwise. He's had to give up things like t-ball and karate because we have to be at home for little brother's 5 day a week therapy sessions.

Maybe I thought by actually saying the word out loud I would make him have to deal with all of the feelings of sadness, fear, and yes- even loss, that I have felt.

Or maybe I hung on to the hope that this would all 'just go away', that this would somehow come to pass without big brother even having been aware of it....

Finally the questions really started piling up-

"Why does Jay have to work with Erika every day?" "Why doesn't my brother ever want to play with me?" "Why does he go to a different school?" "Why doesn't he talk anymore?" etc.........

So finally I told him. I answered his questions- (as best as I could). I told him it was okay to be sad and cry. I also told him that being 'different' isn't bad, it just means we need to be more understanding and patient...

And guess what...

the sky didn't fall!

Of course big brother was sad and teary-eyed- but he also suddenly understood much that he hadn't before. He told me, "I will take care of Jay when he grows up- he can live with me and my kids!"

This of course melted my heart. But before I even had a chance to respond with some deep, heart-felt reply- he was on to the next topic....

"So......can I play my video games now???"

Yep. The sky definitely didn't fall.

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JenM. is a very busy mom of 3 boys, ages 8, 6, and 22 months. Her 6 year old was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. She is also a Registered Nurse specializing in Pediatrics.

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