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.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

man with autism at work

Autism and Anxiety in the Workplace

Do you ever feel like your heart is going to burst out of your chest? Do butterflies fill your stomach until they cannot go anywhere else? Or does your mind get tricked with improbable thoughts? As an individual on the autism spectrum, I deal with bad anxiety. Although this is a problem in most, it [...]

Things I Hate in a World Not Designed for My Son With Autism

My son is a beautiful, sweet, amazing little guy who is without question one of the finest things I could ever give to the world. He loves totally, unconditionally, and views the world with a sense of wonder that is beautiful to behold. He just happens to be autistic.  That’s part of who he is. The way [...]
Book cover of autism uncensored. Cover is black and shows an illustration of a young boy.

Publisher Defends Memoir Autistic People Say Depicts Abuse of Woman's Autistic Son

A book that has yet to be published is already stirring controversy within the autism community. “Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain” is written by a mother, Whitney Ellenby, of an autistic son, Zack. After an excerpt was published in The Washington Post on Feb. 27, autistic people called Ellenby’s actions depicted in it child abuse. [...]
Man running fast to jump over precipice.

5 Things That Make Me Brave as a Man With Autism

You shouldn’t live your life in fear. Not for any reason. What have you done in your life that makes you a brave person? You could be a firefighter who’s saved people in fires. You could have had a gun pointed in your face and didn’t fear being shot. You could have been bullied but [...]