January 26, 2015

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

My nephew, Karson, is just nine months older than 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 is 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 three and a half and Karson is four and a couple months.  The milestones for their ages are somewhat comparable when you look at them broadly.  In fact, if Brandon was born just 5 days earlier, they would be in the same kindergarten class.  It blows my mind to think of them being ready for kindergarten in the same year.  I'm very thankful Brandon's birthday falls when it does.  He will be one of the older kids in class, versus the youngest with a disorder that encompasses a developmental delay.

Karson is a wonderful cousin.  He is 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 has learned to play with Brandon in a way that Brandon likes in order to get some time with him.  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 that is 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."

Karson also looks out for Brandon.  I will 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 three years old then.  It's impressive that 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.

This is just one display of compassion and understanding.  There are a lot of little things that he does to look out for Brandon from day to day.  A while back my sister (Karson's mom) told Brandon to be careful with something because he was going to break it.  Karson shouts to her from across the room, "He's not going to break it, mom!"  I could go on and on with little stories like this.

Karson doesn't understand the concept of autism, but he knows that Brandon is different.  He understands that 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 three years old, this kid accomplished what many adults fail to do.


At Karson's birthday party, Brandon was sitting by himself listening to the music.  Karson joined him.





18 comments:

  1. I have read this five times. It has touched my heart!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love you, Shell! Thanks for raising such a wonderful kid :)

      Delete
  2. That is very sweet! Your nephew kind of reminds me of my younger son (my oldest is on the spectrum)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! He is an angel. How old is your younger son?

      Delete
  3. Rachael - I just wanted to let you know that I look for a new blog post every time you pin stuff on Pinterest. �� I love reading about Brandon and learning (so much!) about autism. I especially loved this post... so sweet. I don't have children of my own yet, but I hope to someday be half the mom you are! You are truly an inspiration and Brandon is so incredibly lucky to have a mom that loves and cares as much as you do. �� I look forward to your future posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelley, you have no idea how much your words mean to me! You really made my day...my week! :) :) Thank you! <3

      Delete
  4. So amazing and wonderful! I am very glad they have each other!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is so sweet. I'm a new reader with an 18 month old that is showing signs of autism. This just made weepy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charity, I am so glad you are here! Thank you for reading! My son was about that age when he really started showing signs. At that point we knew he was at least developmentally delayed. If you every have a question, please feel free to contact me! I don't promise to have the answer, :) but talking with someone who has be there really helps!

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much! Yes, that's all we know right now too. It's scary and overwhelming.

      We have our appt on Monday with a developmental Pedi. I'm looking forward to getting on a program. Does that happen right away? Or are there a series of initial appointments?

      Delete
    3. Thank you so much! Yes, that's all we know right now too. It's scary and overwhelming.

      We have our appt on Monday with a developmental Pedi. I'm looking forward to getting on a program. Does that happen right away? Or are there a series of initial appointments?

      Delete
    4. In my experience, everything takes some time. My biggest advice, is don't wait for anyone to call you...call them! Up until the age of 3, early intervention services are provided by your state. I'm sure your developmental pediatrician will bring this up, but if not, ask him/her about early intervention services. Through my state we received Developmental Therapy, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), all for free until he turned three. We started half of these services with just the developmental delay diagnosis, then added a few after the autism diagnosis. After they turn three, the school system provides most services, including preschool. It may vary state to state, but not much because of the IDEA law.

      I'm trying not to overload you, I could go on and on :) I wish I had someone I could have talked to about the little things I needed to do, so I get excited about passing on information to someone just starting the journey.

      You are on the right path, and doing what you need to. Good job mama!

      Delete
    5. Thank you!! That's great information!

      Delete
  6. Both boys are blessed to have each other! It sounds like your family is raising compassionate children. These early years are the roughest but baby steps of progress will come. My 20-year old son is on the spectrum and thriving in college! Keep pushing for OT, SLP, PT, etc. These services really do make the difference. Great work Mama!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! We have been through so much, but really our journey is just starting. I love to hear about people with older kids than mine who are thriving. It gives me added hope. Thank you so much for sharing!

      Delete
  7. My heart smiled when I read this one. Thanks. Lisa from Quirks and Chaos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) He's a special kid, that's for sure.

      Delete

Grab My Button