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If You Want to Know How to Treat a Child With Autism...

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My nephew, Karson, is just 9 months older than my son, Brandon. When they were both babies, this was a huge age difference. When Brandon was just born, Karson was already crawling around. When Brandon was just a few months old, Karson was walking and saying a few words. Karson was always way ahead of Brandon, but that was to be expected. There’s a a major difference between, say, a 6-month-old and 15-month-old.

When Brandon started showing signs of autism, his delay became more and more evident. Now, Brandon is nearly 3 and a half, and Karson is 4 and a couple months. Karson is a wonderful cousin. He’s a beautiful child, inside and out. He shows an enormous amount of patience with Brandon, who has trouble socially engaging with his peers. Karson tries so hard to play with Brandon, many times only to be ignored. He’s learned to play with Brandon in a way that Brandon likes. He’s done this for more than a year and continues to accommodate Brandon when they play. I wish I could say this is due to my stellar parenting and encouragement from our entire family. While this of course helps, there are certain things that just cannot be taught. There is a level of compassion and acceptance that can only be reached if it’s a part of your core.


I wish this picture captured the enormous smile Karson had on his face when he looked at me and said, “Look, Brandon has his arm on me!” He was absolutely beaming. Karson fully understands what an significant show of affection it is for Brandon to not only put is arm around Karson, but to keep it there. This is how Brandon says, “I love you, Karson.”

I’ll never forget the day we were at my parent’s lake house on a family vacation last summer. I turned around and saw Brandon sitting on the top back of a chair. I darted over because it should have toppled right over, taking Brandon down with it. It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to ponder why the chair hadn’t fallen. When I got there, Karson was sitting in the chair next to Brandon. He was casually eating his breakfast with one hand and holding Brandon’s chair down with the other hand. The awareness Karson had in that moment, for someone other than himself, still amazes me when I think about it. He was only 3 years old then. He instinctively protected Brandon, yet he didn’t feel the need to tell anyone about it. He didn’t try to get attention for it or complain that he could only eat with one hand or yell at Brandon to get down.  He just helped him.

Karson doesn’t understand the concept of autism, but he knows Brandon is different. He understands Brandon is special, and he embraces this.

If you want to know how to treat a child with autism, look to my nephew. He will show you. At 3 years old, this kid accomplished what many adults fail to do.


This post originally appeared on Ramblings of a Special Mom.

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Originally published: February 11, 2015
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