“Sitting back and watching this important friendship bloom in the face of Autism is absolutely heaven.” * March 20 2014
“I never know when I am going to get the unexpected appearance of maturity or movement forward but when it happens I savour it for how special it is.”
One of the best things I have had the privilege to watch is the bond that has developed between my son Johnny and his little sister Princess. They are such close friends even though there is a 3 year age difference between them. The are such close friends even though he is Autistic and she isn’t. They show me ever day that differences do not take away from relationships but just add another layer. I like to think that layer is acceptance.
The other day when Princess and I were talking about her class project where she has to share some things about herself, one of the the questions is to tell the class who she admires. When I explained what “admires” means she immediately said “my brother” because I see how hard he tries no matter what and “he is always there for me when I’m scared or worried.” How many 9 year old boys can say that their 6 year old little sister admires them? I am sure its usually more that their little sisters are annoying and they definitely don’t want to play with them. Johnny does love to tease her and watch her reactions (she always gives lots of drama.)
Whenever Princess is worried about trying something new she usually at least gives it a go when she can either watch her brother do it first or if they do it together. She also has seen how hard he tries to do things even if he can’t do it like all the other kids but he is so persistent and does it for himself. He often doesn’t seem to show that it bothers him because he is centred on himself being able to learn the skill. Princess is more self-conscious about learning something in front of other kids so she admires that he can do it. Princess has been having a lot of trouble with nightmares and not wanting to sleep alone. Her night in shining armour big brother often lets her snuggle is his bed if she is afraid.
Three years ago I wrote about what happened one night when Johnny was a great big brother to his sister.
Source: Leading Her Through The Dark
When I held Princess in my arms for the first time at home and saw her brother look at her with interest I hoped that they would connect and be close. In hindsight, I would often be worried that he was more interested in seeing what her cause and effect toys would do then the baby sister using them. As the weeks passed, he showed his interest in her in different ways. He would be the one to grab her soother when she dropped it. He would be the one to find her rattle toy that she would drop from the stroller. He would be with me when I was diapering her or feeding her. Then as she got more mobile she did everything she could to be near him. In the beginning it was awkward as they were both new to this sibling thing.
One of the bonding things is they learned to speak together. The moment that Johnny started to approximate words in speech was the time that Princess began to do the same. So she understood what he was saying often when other’s didn’t because of his motor speech delay. As he attempted to string more words together in sentences so did she. I didn’t realize it then that by doing it along side his sister he was able to take risks with speech that he couldn’t’ do with peers because they could already speak well. So little does Princess know but this is where she led her brother out of the dark and into the speaking realm.