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Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Story: We’re Different, We’re the Same

IMG_0027-1 I 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.


  1. Ah, you were such a cutie! While reading your story this morning, I thought some things we had that were similar and some were different. My brother and I played with Match box cars and watched Star Trek as well. I know that having a special needs child is a challenge and a learning time for everyone. How different life is and the lessons we learn along the way that change us and mold us to who we are today. Your story was a blessing and I'm really looking forward to learning more in the weeks to come.

  2. Wow, that is really precious! Thanks for posting about your brother. What an interesting preschool, and what a cool kid you must have been, helping the other kids get along!

  3. Great memories! That is such an invaluable lesson for little ones. I'm sure it has had a profound affect on your whole life!

  4. I am honored to get to be a part of this mommy piggy tales journey with you. These memories are touching, exciting and heartwarming all in one. Can't wait to read more next week!

  5. Did you play with Matchbox cars like they were little people, making them talk? I made them have conversations in my head. This was interesting to read because my oldest son has a chromosome abnormality...not really a big deal, but he's a little bit different anyway. I often wonder about his brother and sister...and when they will perceive a difference one day. And my prayer is they will always be there for him in any way he needs them.

  6. It's comforting to know that you loved and accepted your brother & your role unconditionally. My son has high-functioning autism; he seems "normal" at first, until you start to realize that he plays & talks about things differently than the other kids. I worry how his baby sister will feel about that as she gets older, but your story has given me pause to smile and feel positive. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Amen! We have so much to gain and learn from those who are different than us. It's also great to see how your story has encouraged others!