To My Brother on the Autism Spectrum as I Move Away From Home

Life has never seemed easy for you. Our parents knew there was something different when you were 3 years old and not hearing. I was 6 at the time and didn’t understand autism like I do now. I thank you for helping me understand.

I remember how sad Mom was when they told her you might never talk, but you did.

I remember how frustrated Dad got because you didn’t make many friends, but now you are happy.

I remember how mean some of the kids were to you, and the first time someone called you the “r” word. At the time, you didn’t understand it was wrong. Now, when people call you that, you get upset but you tell them why it’s wrong.

I remember as a kid not quite understanding you were different, but loving you none the less. Sometimes you can be hard to understand, but not any more than our other siblings.

I remember your high school graduation and Mom’s tears of joy because people told her you would never graduate high school.

I remember when I got sick. You kept asking why I wasn’t getting better. Now you know I never will, but you show empathy and unconditional love for me. I will never forget that time a couple months ago when you were walking home from work in the cold, but you called me to ask if I wanted you to pick up a sandwich for me on the way home.

Finally, I remember telling you I was moving away. I still don’t know if you fully understand I’m not coming back for more than a week at a time. You and I hugged for what felt like an eternity and in that moment I realized what a remarkable young man you have become. You have proved so many people wrong. I hope life gets easier for you, but sometimes being an adult means rising up to face more challenges. I have no doubt you will.  And no matter how far away I am, I will always be one of your biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s brother.

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Thinkstock photo by: DashaR

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