Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This is My Brother

"Love wash over a multitude of things; make us whole." ~Sara Groves, When it Was Over

It's Autism Awareness day.  

Technically it's autism awareness day every day on our little corner.  So when April 2nd rolls around, it catches me off guard every time.  Not that I don't appreciate the... uh... holiday.  We do.  We feel supported and loved by the extra Facebook posts and tweets posted for just that reason.  

I never know what to write today.  I could go on and on about all three of our kids, about Eric and I, and things that autism has taught us.  That and it's truly every day at our house, not just one day or month.  

So I'll let the faces do some talking.  

That's my younger son, Ryan's little brother Richie.  While he does not have autism, he is affected by it every day of his life.  He does not know what life without autism is like. 

This is our daughter, Ryan's baby sister Maelynn.  She, just like Richie, does not have autism, but was born into life with autism.  This is her day to go to Build A Bear Workshop in support of her brother and families like ours.  She's holding the heart for my Autism Speaks bear, putting love on it before it's sewn in.  

My littles don't know what life is like without autism.  They don't know that other kids' big brothers are capable of living without routine.  They don't think he's weird, abnormal, or uncool.  They think just the opposite.  

Yes, they get frustrated with him when he takes a toy from them.  Or when he doesn't understand and takes the rest of their milk.  But they give him grace.  

They adore their brother.  They don't hang their heads in shame when he melts down in public.  They simply remind him that it's okay.  They do their best to comfort him.  They wait patiently for him to calm.  They don't cry or fuss when we leave somewhere because Ryan is unable to handle it.  They know.  

They are not autism-aware.  They are Ryan-aware.  

They go to therapy twice a week.  They sit in the hall, coloring, reading, trying to be quiet.  They walk around Baylor with me.  They ride the 50 minutes one way, usually having risen early from their naps. They will do the same for a week in June for Baylor Autism Resource Center day camp, but they'll wait three hours every day for him to be through. 

They wait for dinner when our speech therapist is here when she can get here.  She's the only one for a handful of counties... yes, COUNTIES... and they're currently enjoying a break because she's on maternity leave.  There's no one to take her place. So she comes when she can, which is usually anytime between 4:30 and 5:30 PM.  They seldom complain, and if they do it's not about their brother.

They listen to the screaming.  

They see him hit himself.  

I wish I could say they've never participated in these things, but I try not to lie. 

They worry about him.  They pray for him.  

They adore him.  He's their hero.

They also see us, their parents, melt down.  They see our tears when we don't know what to do. 

What would they tell you if they could?  What would they tell you about autism, about autism awareness, if they were a bit more than 3 and 4 years old?  

I bet they'd tell you what Richie does when he sees these pictures: 

"That's my brother Ryan when he was little!"

This is my brother at the park at Grammy and Grampy's. Silly Ryan!


This is my brother with his old drumsticks!

This is my brother in the water. 

This is my brother playing with me and my sister at Morgan's Wonderland. 

This is my brother playing with my sister's kitchen.  He likes microwaves. 

This is me and my brother Ryan playing in the sandbox. 


Not "my brother with autism" or "my autistic brother."  He doesn't focus on the hard things.  He doesn't see his brother as frustrating, hard to deal with, or noisy.  He simply sees his brother.  His hero.  

He doesn't yet know that his brother is different.  If he does, I can guarantee you that it doesn't bother him.  And I hope it stays that way.  I pray that he will always love his brother with a simple, forgiving, graceful love. 

The prayer I have for Richie and Maelynn is similar to the one I have for everyone who is likely to come into contact with an autistic person, otherwise known as all of us.  Sometimes you can't help but notice the difference.  But look past it.  Look to the person God created in His image.  

Look to the preciousness of life itself.  

Look to defend those who are less able to defend themselves.  Not because you know somebody now, not because you might meet someone tomorrow, but because that caring, loving attitude of the heart is Christlike.  It is right.  

Because everyone is somebody's son.  Daughter.  Brother.  Sister.  Friend.  

This Autism Awareness day, I pray that everyone would come to look past differentness in everyone else.  To judge less, to love more.  But the most earnestly, the most desperately, I pray that the body... the church... believers... would band together and not only accept those with special needs into the church, but would seek them.  That there would not only be an attitude of welcome, but an educated preparedness to truly be equipped to welcome.  That pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, heads of committees, and entire church bodies everywhere would seek to love and serve not just the most normal, but to seek to love with a gutsy grace that isn't afraid of different. 

Because Ryan isn't just the noisy kid behind you.  He isn't just the kid who practically mows you over running to the microwave.  He's our son, our brother, our grandson.  We pray that you'll see the sparkle in his eyes, the excitement in his hand-flapping, the happiness in his voice as he spouts off lines from Toy Story, Thomas, and Cars.  We pray that you'll be aware of autism and the effects it has on his life, ours, and the rest of the world, but even more, we pray that you'll remember to see Ryan.  

And we thank the Lord for those of you who have and are this for us.  

There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails
There is a hope that whispers a vow
A promise to stay while we're working it out
So come with your love and wash over us.
~Sara Groves, When it Was Over

Thanks be to God for this kind of love, for those who share Autism Awareness, and for our unshockable, gospel-driven, gutsy-graceful church.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...