Preschool-KindergartenI can’t remember when I learned that my brother was different. He was my brother and that was all I needed to know. He didn’t laugh much, he couldn’t really talk, and balloons of any sort caused him to shake with terror. But he was my brother and I loved him.
About the time I was in kindergarten, after many false diagnoses, my big brother was diagnosed with autism. Back then, autism wasn’t as well known as it is today. People would ask what was wrong with him, and I would have to go in depth as to what autism was because they had no clue.
We went to the same preschool together. It was a preschool designed to help special needs children interact with normal children. I was one of the normal ones meant to help teach the special needs kids how to play together. The only memory I have of preschool other than a mental image of the outside of the school is the day we finger painted. I remember nothing else.
I do remember how we would play with his countless Matchbox cars, and we would line them up together to make a parade. We would watch Star Trek together. It was always simple to play with him. I knew what he liked, and we would often play his way.
Because of his autism, I grew up playing the role of big sister. Everyone who knew me knew that was my role, and though his autism and all of the effects of it were sometimes painful for our family, I wouldn’t change it. I learned how to accept people for who they were; to love despite their differences. My brother taught me that.