Watching My Daughter Love Her Brother With Autism


I’ve found it very difficult to protect my heart when it’s beating outside of my body. These days it’s running around in the form of a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler in its most vulnerable form. I’ve wanted to protect my son from the “Big Bad World” since day one. Most of the time ,his adventurous spirit would get in the way of the bubble wrapped life I had in mind for him.

Then came his autism diagnosis.

How will I protect him now?

Will he be OK?

Will he ever talk? Be bullied on the playground? Or even attend school? Will he have a job? Drive? Live independently? Fall in love?

And the spiral to nowhere continued.

As parents, we never want our children to feel pain and sadness. Hunger or cold. Lost or confused.

It tears me up from the inside out when I look into my boy’s eyes and see how confused and frustrated he can become.

The other day, during one of his meltdowns, his 2-year-old little sister hugged him and would not let go. Eventually he started laughing because it became a game to try and get her off of him. I noticed something that day — the way she looked at him. It was simple and unconditional adoration.

Brother and sister hugging

In her eyes, he isn’t “different.” He is her big brother. Her hero. Her person. I prayed that night that she will always see him in that same light. As time passes, his world will inevitably impact hers more. New challenges will arise, they both will grow and change, but I hope their unconditional love remains the same.

My children are both unique and made for one another. I can’t catch them every time they fall down, but I can teach them how to help one another back up. To comfort one another. To laugh together.

My son has a wonderfully badass tribe of family, friends, doctors, therapists, interventionists and peers to help raise him up as high as he can go. And he has her.

So just like that, I had my answer: he’s going to be OK.

A version of this story originally appeared on Wilson’s Climb.


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