My daughter is beautiful. She is a physical beauty, but even more importantly she has a heart full of love and innocence. Not that she doesn’t behave like a stinker as do most 6 year old kids; but she has been tested by life, and passed. Her older 10-year-old brother has autism and a very affected amount of it. Among many other challenges, he doesn’t talk much, and while in actions he shows his deep love and passion, none of his speech includes emotional and relational speech. What is so hard is to watch him on the playground or at a play place type of business. I can see he wants to interact with the other kids…you can see him at moments just stop and watch them play, and you can see a small smile of wishful thinking on his face. He knows he doesn’t fit in. You don’t have to hear him tell you. You can see it on his face and how he shys away from contact. It breaks your mommy heart. You desperately wish there was something you could do to fix this, but you know there isn’t anything save for explaining to onlookers about your child. I have my spiel memorized…it rarely changes. As adults, we complicate things, by feeling the need to over explain. We feel more information means better understanding, and many times it can be. But from my daughter, I learned that one day about the perfect simplicity of a child and their amazing ability to get to the heart of the matter.
One day at the playground, something happened that is common every time we visit one. A child comes up to my son, who looks normal on the outside, and asked him a question. When he didn’t respond, the child looked confused (as they usually do) and before they could walk off my daughter came up and told them this simple statement: “My brother doesn’t talk much, but he loves to play.”
That’s all that was needed, and it surprised me. I would have made that poor child’s eyes gloss over as I would have explained how he has autism, how he can’t speak, looks normal, likes people, isn’t unaware, doesn’t mean to make weird noises, plays differently, loves throwing dirt/bark dust/wood chips/leaves/sand/etc. in the air and doesn’t mean to get people dirty, and more. But in that one phrase, my daughter acknowledged he was different, but showed he is acceptable and likeable despite his differences.
I am used to the requests to tell my son’s history to adults who I have informed that my son has autism, but in a child’s eyes things are much more simple and down to the heart of the matter. And how so much more did my daughter’s statement describe my son’s difficulties, value, and social acceptability despite his challenges. She is an amazing blessing to our family and so protective of her brother’s heart. I can see he loves her, and I know he knows she loves him. And I’d like to think, in his heart, even though he can’t say it, he is thankful for her help.
Because my son doesn’t talk much…but he loves to play.
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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