My son made me cry this morning. Not because he did something wrong. Not by a long shot. You’d think it would be tough growing up with an autistic big brother. But you’d never know it by him.
There are moments when he feels upset about so much of our days needing to be planned around Jonah’s needs and avoiding his meltdowns. All of the therapist visits and limited meal choices. Sometimes Gabe get’s frustrated. Of course he does. What sibling doesn’t get angry with their brothers or sisters?
Gabe’s an extra special kid though. He protects and looks after Jonah. Gabe always told us he was the big brother when he was little. He still acts like it too. He stops Jonah from being bullied even if it means he will be bullied himself. The look in Jonah’s eye when he is with Gabe is pure love. He doesn’t look at anybody else like that.
Gabriel did a project at school for Autism Awareness Month and didn’t tell me anything about it. His teacher asked me if he would speak to the class about what it’s like to have a brother with Autism. I told her to see how he felt about it and he never mentioned it to me. Time passed by and I forgot all about it.
Last night he gave me a folder to look at with all of his schoolwork from the last month. I signed the form for his teacher and placed it on the counter for later. This morning I leafed through the pages and found a pamphlet that he made that describes in his words what it’s like to have autism.
I’ve read thousands of clinical diagnoses. I’ve attended conferences. My wife and I have been to pediatricians, neurologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and almost any other kind of doctor you can name. Not one of them ever provided the emotional details in the words of a ten year old who see’s, plays, works, rides the bus, does homework with, jumps on the trampoline with and shares his life with autism every single day.
Gabriel truly is the Big Brother in every sense of that name. Proud is not eloquent a word enough to encapsulate my admiration and love for this boy. If I were one tenth as strong as these two young men, I’d rule the world.