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Who My Son Has Become Because of His Brother With Autism

I have two sons, Finley is 5 and Colin is 4. Colin has autism.

I have always described my older son Finley as “compassionate, considerate and caring.” He has the sweetest personality, and he is an amazing big brother to Colin. Finley is very smart and observant, and he noticed at a very early age that his brother was different. He would make comments like, “Colin is still a baby and can’t talk.” As he got older he asked, “Why did Colin grow up, but didn’t learn to talk?” I explained to him that Colin’s brain just works differently. He is learning things all the time, but learning to talk is just really hard for him.

Finley looks out for Colin. He holds his hand in public. He says things like, “Mommy, you can go, I’ll watch Colin for you.” He has even turned into a little miniature ABA therapist and speech language pathologist… he just naturally works on things with his brother without anyone ever asking him to. I like to think he is learning by example.

Having a brother with autism means that a lot is expected of big brother, Finley. My husband and I try not to place too many demands on him — but sometimes autism means things can be different for him from other boys his age. For instance, Finley really has to listen to us when we are out in public, because sometimes Colin has trouble listening. Whether he realizes it or not, Finley’s life revolves around Colin’s therapy schedule. This is just the nature of our life. We make sure to give Finley special time when we can, because our world cannot revolve solely around his brother.

two brothers hugging each other smiling at someone ahead

Finley is such an amazing little boy in his own right, and I have always hoped that having a brother with autism would only enhance all of the wonderful qualities he already possesses. I know Colin has helped make me more accepting, more patient and more “go-with-the flow.” I see it in his brother as well.

He rarely gets frustrated with anyone, because Colin is teaching him patience.

He never excludes a friend, because Colin is teaching him acceptance.

He loves everyone, because Colin is teaching him about unconditional love.

Today, I went to Finley’s preschool exit meeting with his teachers. He has made so much “academic” progress in the course of the school year. He can write his name independently, he can count to 24, he recognizes letters, numbers, shapes and colors. Of course these things make me proud, but do you know what makes me even prouder?

His teacher told me, “We send folders on to the kindergarten teachers. I wrote in Finley’s note, ‘if you have a student in your class who needs a buddy, Finley is a great friend to bubby-up with.’”

Yes! Finley, you make me proud every single day. I pray that you always accept and love those around you. You are such a gift to everyone around you, especially to your little brother, who thinks you hung the moon. This autism journey that our family is on, well, it can be tough. Let’s always find the positives, grow as individuals and use our journey to help others. I want to be a little bit more like Finley!

Follow this journey at SLP mom.