“Do you want me to read the book to you, or do you want to read it to me?”
Bobby picks up a favorite of Declan’s bedtime books, “Whales, Dolphins and Sharks” and holds it tenderly in front of Declan, waiting patiently for Declan to answer.
They are squished in the top bunk of their shared bunk bed. The top was Bobby’s bed until two weeks ago when Declan claimed it for his own. Bobby had shrugged and just moved to the bottom bunk.
“You read it,” Declan answers and I quietly leave the room for Bobby to continue with Declan’s bedtime routine.
Special Needs Siblings
I am amazed by Bobby. I am blessed by Bobby.
When I have reached the end of my rope. When I don’t think I can listen to screaming for another second, Bobby steps in and says, “It’s okay, mom. I got it.”
When Declan is trying to interact with other children and we hear him screaming in frustration with his peers, it is Bobby that says, “I’ll go.”
When we’re out and Declan cries out for a trip to the bathroom, Bobby stands up to say, “I’ll take him.”
When Catelyn sees Bobby eating lunch with his friends at school, and screams and jumps in excitement, Bobby waves hello or stands to return her hug.
Bobby goes to bed at 8:15 every night with Declan, despite hearing how late his friends stay up, especially in the summer time.
Yesterday, Bobby had his last day of elementary school. I was amazed at how much of a young man he has become. He looked so old and mature.
So, I dug up his first day of elementary school. I saw my little boy with his little pot belly in a shirt with a dinosaur on it, standing in excitement for his first day of Kindergarten. The picture really made me smile.
Catelyn was 3 years old, Declan was 2 months old when Bobby went to his first day of school. Little did we know at the time, their journey, our autism journey, was just beginning.
As each one of us learned our roles in an autism family, Bobby did too. He learned to be a helper. He learned so much patience. He became a special needs sibling.
I am so sad at times when I think of those years and how they affected all of us. Life was so stressful. So chaotic and unpredictable. I feel such guilt now, having laid the following words on Bobby far too many times that it doesn’t seem fair.
“I need you to be good. I can’t handle any more stress.”
As Catelyn and Declan sat in their rigidity, Bobby was asked to be so flexible. To give up demanded toys, to give up preferred seats and to ignore the stares when we would have to leave different fun play activities.
The pictures show a span of 6 years. When I think of those years, I wonder how many problems Bobby has kept to himself when he saw me under stress. I wonder how much he has had to give up.
I realize I have asked a lot from Bobby through the years.
And he has NEVER complained.
At times, I feel bad thinking that Bobby feels his needs are less important.
They aren’t. His needs are no less important. They are different. And I think he can see that too.
Bobby has had to grow up faster than his typical peers. I see it in the picture. And in his aging process he has learned the pure of love in a child with autism. Bobby has learned to be so helpful, so kind and oh, so patient.
I love each one of my kids for all that they are and all that they have become. We are all truly blessed. I am so thankful to go on this journey with each member of this family.
And I am oh so thankful for Bobby, an amazing son and autism sibling.