He Makes Us Better

Autism he makes us better brothersWhat an emotional week it has been!

I have a Freshman and a Senior this year, both of which are in the Marching Band. Over this marching season, I have watched these two boys grow closer and closer, their bond grow stronger with each other.

What does any of this have to do with Autism?

Hang with me just a minute.

It all came to an extremely emotional moment the other night. It was Senior Night and the band was playing one last song, “Amazing Grace”, to the Seniors at the end of their last home game of the season.

Tears were everywhere! So many kids were crying. We have 47 Seniors this year…that’s a lot of friends leaving.I was expecting to see Brendan, my Senior, emotional. What I was not expecting was to see my youngest son, Jordan, falling to pieces.

I looked across the field to see him standing there crying so hard. Brendan made his way over to him and they stood in a bear hug for several minutes while Jordan cried on his older brother’s shoulder. The love between them was moving to see. I’m pretty sure my heart exploded.
For this momma here, it was the answer to another prayer from long, long ago. A prayer that my children would be the best of friends. For something I never really had.

Autism he makes us better brothers 2

I have a younger sister and a younger half-brother. Growing up, it was just the three of us but we didn’t have that bond that I know some siblings have. It wasn’t horrible, I mean we had fun, but we were not buddies. My younger brother is 6 years younger than me so we just didn’t have much in common as kids. For the most part, I looked after him and entertained him and his job was to make me crazy.  My sister and I just clashed. We constantly fought…even as adults.

This is what I thought was normal. Siblings argue, tell on each other, fight, steal from each other and make the others life miserable, topped off with a few laughs and fun times in between. That was my normal.

When my youngest son was born, I was ready. THREE BOYS! My husband and I joked that our peaceful quiet days at home were gonna be on hold for the next 18 years or so.
We wondered what it would be like to raise three boys full of energy and spirit. Would they get along like my husband and his brother do? Would they just hate each other or would they fall somewhere in between?

I wanted them to have a good relationship with each other and I prayed that would happen. I was concerned, though. They already had a few more challenges facing them than most families do. Their older brother has autism. Would this make their life harder and add more stress?

Just add this to another thing that I worried about.

I didn’t know what life would be like for these three boys. Turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about at all.

This is what happened.

My boys learned acceptance. My boys learned that everyone is special. They learned to stand up for their friends and loved ones. They learned it was okay to be different.

They have never viewed Taylor’s autism as a disability, he is just Taylor. He is their big brother.

Even at a young age, they understood what made Taylor tick. What would make him laugh, what would upset him, what kept him calm and what got on his nerves.

Don’t misunderstand. They all three still pester the crap out of each other, but they also know when to stop. Other than that horrible biting stage when Taylor and Brendan were toddlers, they have never physically hurt each other intentionally. I don’t even think they have intentionally hurt each other’s feelings, either. Now I KNOW this is not normal, at least it wasn’t for me and my siblings growing up.

Brendan and Jordan never had those “brother fights” I had prepared myself for. Certainly nothing like the fights my sister and I had. I remember one time when I was fourteen, I found out my sister had taken an outfit of mine without asking and then me trying to drag her up the stairs in a headlock demanding my clothes back. (I’m not the only one, right?)

This kind of thing has never happened between my boys. I am so happy that this is true but I am not really sure that is the norm.

“My boys learned acceptance. My boys learned that everyone is special. They learned to stand up for their friends and loved ones. They learned it was okay to be different.”

I know my kids are not perfect, but to me they are perfect brothers. I can’t take credit for it, though. I didn’t make them this way.

Taylor did. All with his brothers completely unaware.

Taylor changed the whole dynamic of our family. As little boys, Brendan and Jordan would never fight it out because of how it would be for Taylor. They knew that it could cause a meltdown from Taylor and they never wanted to upset him that way. They wanted him to laugh and be silly. They wanted to include him and they did.

Taylor is a funny kid and his younger brothers wanted to be with him all the time when they were little. It wouldn’t be until much later that they would understand why Taylor didn’t engage with them as much as they wanted him to.

Taylor has taught them how to see the world through someone else’s eyes. They often think of situations from the perspective of  “How would Taylor feel?” and as a result are much better at thinking out their actions first and how it may affect other people, not always, but more times than not.

They have learned patience. You tend to learn patience unwittingly when you have a brother that loves to repeat all things such as watching the same movies over and over, telling the same jokes again and again or asking the same questions when you know he knows the answer. You get the idea.

These two boys have sacrificed a lot for Taylor. If they ever needed an excuse to feel left out or resentful of their brother taking time away from them, they had it. The early part of their young lives was filled with all of us trying to get Taylor to talk and engage with us. Yet, they never complained once in all the years about being drug along to all of Taylor’s speech therapies, social therapies, horse riding therapy and that entire summer with the hyperbaric chamber.

There were so many nights that I had to spend alone with Taylor locked in my room so he could focus on his homework without any distractions. Not once did they complain that I wasn’t spending that time with them. They understood that this is what Taylor needed.

Pretty soon, Brendan offered to help Taylor with his homework and he WANTED to help him.

Jordan would go walking with Taylor when he walked the dog so he knew Taylor was okay and I wouldn’t worry.

Taylor is a wandering ninja. He has a terrific tendency to be standing next to you and the next second be gone. “Poof!” I cannot count the number of panic attacks I have had with that kid because of this vanishing trick of his. Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with him has experienced this with him. He is almost 21 years old and he STILL does this!! Whenever we would go out to places, it was unspoken between Brendan and Jordan to keep an eye on Taylor. For example, when I would pay for the groceries. If I let go of his hand for a second, his brothers would move in. Taylor never ran off, he knew people would notice that. No, he GHOSTED and many times it was his brothers that would grab him before he could do his disappearing act. Much to Taylor’s dismay they still do it. Old habits, you know?

No one asked them to do these things. They just did it. I know that this sounds like a lot of mom bragging…and it is.

This blog post is dedicated to telling the story of life with Taylor. My goal is to give hope and maybe inspire another mom or dad out there who has a child on the spectrum. Brendan and Jordan have even given me suggestions on things to write about. The thing is, they are just as important and intricate to the story of Taylor. They are his support system. They are his advocates and I feel it is important to express how special they both are.

Autism he makes us better brothers 3

This post is for them.

That night at Senior night, I saw the result of two boys that had something more in common than just being the brothers of Taylor. That hug wasn’t forced. They didn’t know their dad and I were watching the moment. It was real and raw. The evidence of their love for each other. Did I ever hug my brother or sister this way? Sadly, I am not so sure, but seeing this moment manifest in front of me was almost too much for me to take in! My prayer answered. Thank you, God.

Some people may look at our life and feel bad for us. Actually, I know some people do, and to you I say, “Don’t”.

I can’t imagine our life any other way. God knew what he was doing when he blessed us with Taylor.

Taylor taught us compassion.

Taylor taught us acceptance.

Taylor makes us laugh.

Taylor makes us think outside of the box.

Taylor makes us better. …and Brendan and Jordan make Taylor better.

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