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To Our Neurotypical Son, Who Supports His Brother on the Autism Spectrum

Dear B.,

You were meant to be the sibling of a child on the autism spectum. You didn’t know this when you were born – and, truthfully, neither did we.

We didn’t know when you were born that you would be a brother, let alone a brother to our non-stop, nonverbal, ping-pong ball whom we call Mr. Diggy. And we certainly didn’t know you would possess the calmness, the resilience and the stability to be the brother he truly needs.

Thank you:

For always being willing to help — even with odd requests (can you please get the empty Kleenex box off the bottom of the pool)?

For being flexible — missing events that would overwhelm him, leaving parties early and for getting takeout instead of eating out.

For being empathetic — helping us manage and “translate” your brother, especially at the end of the day as our patience wears thin.

For being considerate — giving Mr. Diggy his vitamins, refilling his water bottle and helping to clean up his messes.

For having a lot of perspective — realizing that different things are easier and harder for different people, including and especially your brother.

We wish for you…

To not have to worry about your brother, but know you will always love him.

To be able to forge your own life, but know you will always find a way to include him.

To be able to travel widely, freely and easily, but know you will also be able to travel with Mr. Diggy to special places.

To be able to educate yourself continually, but know Mr. Diggy is perhaps our best teacher when it comes to patience, flexibility and humility.

To be able to find your own independence, and support your brother in achieving the maximum level of independence he can.

We know this is a lot to carry on your slender, teenaged shoulders, but this is the life we have — and it is richer and more full because of your brother.

You are part of a club you didn’t sign up for; just know that we are using everything we learn in our life as the family of a child on the autism spectrum to move ourselves forward, not backward.

We are so fortunate to have you on this ride with us.

This story originally appeared on Lara’s blog.

Image by Kiley Riffell Photography