The Challenge for Siblings

Present word count of WIP:  52,346

Today my daughter walked with her graduating class at BYU. I can hardly believe how grown up she has become. A lot of it has come in this last year as she’s been teaching her own class of Fourth Graders in a paid internship here for one of the school districts in Utah. I saw it later in the morning as I watched her interact with her pupils. She was the one in charge. There was no question. But I could also tell how much they love her.

Something else I noticed that was different today: she was dying to introduce her brother, Jason, to her class. Ten years ago, that would have been the furthest thing from her mind. Today, he’s cool. Back then, in the throes of peer pressure, he was simply embarrassing.

Of course, what little brother isn’t? Growing up, we’re all so easily humiliated by our family members, both older and younger, once we reach adolescence. So, imagine that humiliation magnified ten-fold by a brother who ducks under the table at a restaurant, refusing to come out until our “yucky” food is gone…or one who does anything girls on the playground ask him to because he’s doing his best to be agreeable and doesn’t realize they’re intentionally making fun of him. I mean what teenager wants to be related to someone so “clueless” socially?

To be honest, Allison didn’t truly begin to accept her brother’s differences until she finally began having friends who thought he was cool. Both in school and at church. That happened when we moved here to Washington. We lucked out and moved into a ward whose bishop had a son with Asperger’s. And there were a couple of other families, too, with a child on the autistic spectrum. Jason was welcomed with open arms. That made it a whole lot easier for Allison to behave as lovingly around him outside the home as she always had inside our home.

The other difficulty for a “neurotypical” sibling is feeling a lack of attention in comparison to that paid to the AS child. As parents, we had to be very careful to make certain Allison knew she was as loved and valued as Jason was.

I knew she’d turned the corner on her acceptance of her brother when she graduated from high school and made a few of her friends who were going to be seniors promise to look out for him once she went off to college. They did, and Jason blossomed even more.

Allison’s there for him now…and she always will be.

 

Originally posted 2012-04-20 21:55:55.

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