One Person's Dandelion's Are Another's Precious Blooms

Friday, May 27, 2011

He Ain't Heavy...

Mark is Gregory's youngest brother, but at age 4, Mark is well beyond his years in loving and caring for his big brother. When I watch the two of them playing, autism is no longer in the picture because to Mark, autism does not exist. Simply, he loves & looks up to his big brother for who he is, and accepts him totally as he is, just the way he is. He plays with Gregory the way nobody else can. Older siblings often get annoyed at how autism gets in the way of things, and are not as understanding when Gregory messes things up for them. They blame Gregory a lot for things even though it is not Gregory's fault he has autism.

Here they are in the backyard. Gregory decides to lie down on the cool grass. So Mark lies down next to him too. Gregory just had his legs up in the air, swaying. Mark repeats the same. They are together. Afterwards, Mark asks "Wanna race?" Gregory looks at him and says, "Yes." And off they go. Then when Gregory suddenly stops and tunes into his inner world for a minute, Mark comes over and sits by him, and they are together, sitting still on the grass. And that is OK.

Mark is a true friend. I don't take that for granted. I'm thankful there is someone like this for Gregory. For kids with autism, it is hard to find and keep one true friend. When Mark was younger and still a toddler, I worried that Gregory would never find a real friend. It's hard for any of us, but moreso for children on the autism spectrum. In fact, they get an inordinate share of bullying, teasing, and are vulnerable to different types of abuse. Now I can see that his little brother is so perfect for him, and they play beautifully together, so that I can say that Gregory has a friend.

Mark is also like a natural therapist, by making Gregory pay attention to the game, the rules, the moves, whatever they're playing, bringing him back to engage with him again. And if Gregory doesn't right away, Mark is just fine with that and continues to tag along happily while his big brother leads them around the backyard. But Mark is persistent, and forces Gregory to play the right way, and by the rules :-) He doesn't give up, and he protects Gregory from danger too (pulling him back from the road, or our fence if he's trying to climb).

I feel that Mark is not only perfect for Gregory (and someone who most likely will be the one to watch over him when they are adults), but he is also a balm for our soul; and as any parents of children with autism know, our hearts/souls are tattered & broken when we first start out on this journey.


  1. This is very lovely. I have seen Mark and Gregory interact, Mark is totally loving and adoring his older brother even though Gregory doesn't let him play video games on the laptop. Mark is still happy and moves onto something else... You are doing a great job Ann. - EILEEN

  2. Thanks so much, Eileen, for those kinds words. Autism is such a formidable & mysterious foe, many, many times I feel like I've fallen short. When I see how Mark & Gregory are together, though, I can't help but feel that there are some things that are going right. A long way to go still, but not a lonely road, for Gregory. :))