Friday, September 14, 2012

Danger of Casualty

Gotta figure out something.

Have to find a way to remind me.  Burn it into my brain and onto my heart.

It's like nothing else.  Can't set a reminder on my phone.

Has to come from my heart.  Has to be second nature.

See, my husband sent me this link yesterday.

Now, this is ringing in my head.

“Siblings can be the silent casualty in a family’s battle with autism.” ~Andrea Warner, from this post on

I'm watching these two neurotypical, beautiful, precious children in front of me.  They're pretending.  They're playing together.  They're attached to each other enough that they act like twins.  They fight, they wrestle, they hug, they are together.  They're completely different from each other, and both so different than their brother.  

They both also adore their big brother.  

They try to play with him, and most of the time he tolerates them.  Below the surface, Ryan loves his little brother and sister.  In his own way and his own time, he shows that he loves them.  

So often I've wondered if they know how much they do for their brother.  How much we do and don't do that is a result of brother's challenges.  

I've wondered if they know how much we love them.  We tell them, we try to show them, and we pray that we aren't failing miserably.  The hard part is that we won't know how we did until they're old enough to tell us. 

See, they've already given so much.  So many hours to and from and sitting at the BARC, waiting for brother.  So many times they've been seated in the grocery cart, perfectly calm and quiet, while we fought to keep Ryan from injuring himself in a meltdown.  

I wonder if they noticed the stares. 

If they didn't, I wonder when they will.  

We figured out not too long ago that, since we held Ryan in PPCD for an extra year, there will be at least one year when all three kids will be in the high school at once.  Lord willing, they'll all be in band, too.  If you remember anything about school, you know kids can be cruel.  

We have to figure out a way to prepare them for this.  

We can't be so busy teaching everyone else about Ryan, autism, acceptance, and how everyone, no matter how different, is important to God and therefore important to us.  To teach them also that while their brother is special, they are special too.  

It's hard to spread around the attention.  When one kid needs you to do so much, and the others are capable of so much more right now, the time naturally goes in one direction.  Even here.  I catch myself all the time in awe and wonder of Ryan's accomplishment while Richie is writing his name, starting to read, and he and his sister are all the time using words like "quite" and "unacceptable".  They're even encouraging each other and Ryan.  

They're two and four, people.  Two and four! 

Last night, Maelynn was dancing around the kitchen floor, begging something of her Daddy and I that we can't deliver. 

"I want to be a high school kid!" 

"Did you hear your daughter, Eric?"  You should have seen his face.  We both erupted in a chorus of "not yet" and "we love having you little" but the day will be here all too soon when we're taking those pictures of all three kids in their uniforms, Dad in his band director shirt, and Mom in her band booster shirt.  Then it'll be a cap and gown.  Then another.  Then another.  

I pray that, long before they toss their mortarboards and head off to their own wide open spaces, they will have stood the test of security in who they are.  I pray they will have been so grounded in their faith and knowledge that, when they have a chance to stand or turn away, they stand.  That, whether for their brother or another person, their second nature is one of loving defense for those who may not look or act like everyone else.   

All of that in the process of becoming who God meant for them to be.  Richie and Maelynn are both so much more than and autistic person's brother and sister.  They are each, themselves, wonderfully created.  They are each potential great leaders, wherever they go and whatever they do.  I am proud of them, and I love them each in a way I can't possibly put to words. 

But I will do my best.  

Gotta figure out a way.  Several ways.  

I want growing up in our family to have blessed them.  Prepared them.  Encouraged them.  

They are so much more than Ryan's little brother and sister.  I pray that growing up in our home will cultivate and grow them to be all they are meant to be... which I think will be pretty amazing.  I mean, look at 'em!

Thanks be to God for my amazing Richie and Maelynn!


  1. Crystal, you are a great mom. Ryan is so blessed to have such an amazing advocate in you. And, Richie and Maelynn are blessed to grow and learn in the presence of your empathy, humility, and compassion. Give me a "M" and an "O" and a "M"....go Mom!! :)

  2. As the sibling of a brother with autism, I would say just LOVE them. Let them know their needs are important too. Let them express when something to do with their brother is unfair. Let them know there is nothing "wrong" with their family, that God dearly loves them. I think you do these things. They will be blessed with a compassion and empathy beyond their years. You are doing a great job.


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