Friday, April 24, 2009

Through a brother's eyes

I was inspired to write this because of a post I read today about siblings. I often just talk about Daniel since the main focus of this is autism. But as we know, autism affects the family. This is my perception of how it affects Daniel's little brother Zachary.


He's a massive perfectionist. He's good at just about everything, but doesn't want to try things until he has it all figured out in his head ahead of time. I think he is always trying to make the world right since he has seen it upside down so often.

He wants to be the president of the United States. You never hear kids say that do you? He wants to be in charge. Because he is in charge at home. He's a natural leader, and he feels he can change the world. He aspires for greatness. He has a brother that demands perfection. (see last blog about demanding I stop making mistakes!)

Injustice and intolerance are maddening to him and always have been. He's nine and complains of people not seeing each other for who they are and not seeing past the color of someones skin. He complains of tobacco companies putting out products that can kill you, to make a buck (ok a lot of bucks). Where is the justice in his brother having autism and he does not?

He's empathetic. Always has been. The social worker says most kids start developing their sense of empathy around 3rd grade. In first grade Zachary was standing up to kids telling them to stop saying things because it was hurting a friends feelings. No one else cared, but he held strong. When you see your brother struggling every day, your view of the world changes.

He always knows the right thing to say to his brother and he never gives up. Even when his brother never answered and didn't want to hear it. He'd try. He'd try. He'd try again. And now he is starting to get a response. Lately they play together every evening. It might only be 30 minutes, but the victory on Zachary's face was worth the years of waiting.

He is respectful. He would never turn on a tv channel or a radio that he would know would upset his brother just to taunt him. Ever. Teasing isn't an option. "Why would someone do that?" He wonders.

He's a wonderful artist. Zachary draws. A lot. Often he'll draw Thomas the Tank Engine, or Candy Land characters, even though he doesn't care about them, just because it will make Daniel happy. Daniel has a pile of these in his room and it's growing all the time.

He doesn't talk much about autism at our house
. But he'll stand up in from of cub scout troop, social workers, parents and Dr's and give a talk on autism, without hesitation.

In Kindergarten when a child asked him, "what's wrong with your brother?" He answered, "nothing, he's just Daniel".

Often, the world would be a better place if we looked at it through a child's eyes.


kristi said...

Wow, he sounds amazing!

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

What a love Zachary is. My younger son, Aidan, is also very empathetic - when he was in Kindergarten he would comfort any of the other kids who were hurt or upset. I think it comes with the territory for the sibs of autistic kids. They are all so amazing.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for the siblings of our special needs children. You know, your description of Zachary initially reminded me of my husband (- he's a perfectionist and *still* wants to be president), but Zachary has a perspective and sensitivity that you cannot manufacture.
Autismville included a video clip on autism siblings and it said that 76% of siblings go into human service professions. They're a special lot.