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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Will they always be so kind?

While waiting for my Kiddo come out of speech, I see a boy come out of his session and greet his younger brother.  Their mom is chatting with the therapist.  The younger boy takes the older by the hand to get his shoes.  (Where we go, the kids take their shoes off before they go into the PT/OT gym.) The older boy sits and puts them on but stops short of tying them.   It's then I notice the younger brother sit down next time him and starts to tie them for him.  He ties one and then the older brother tries to do the other.  The younger one waits but eventually stops him and completes it himself.  All of this happened without a word exchanged between the two.  It's clear to me this isn't the first time the younger child has had to be the "little big brother".   I am struck by the kindness of this little guy.  As a mom to an only child, I can't help but wonder if the Kiddo had a sibling, would they always be this kind?

Eventually, the Kiddo comes out of his appointment and I am distracted from this scene.  Kiddo gets the slip on sneakers I purposely buy because we have long given up independent shoe tying as a goal.  I chat with his therapist and we make our way out.  

"Do the work.  Get the pizza." says the Kiddo. 

"Yep.  You did a good job today.  You earned pizza." and I drive him to the local pizza shop.
  
I prompt him to order.  The gal behind the counter has come to know him and is wonderfully patient.  She has even offered to buy him an Italian ice from time to time and wasn't surprised when I told her he wasn't a fan of it as his eating habits are a tad "quirky."  She smiled and said "Yeah, my sister too." and with a head nod I knew she was on #TeamQuirky too. I've been a loyal customer there ever since.  She's older than that young boy I just saw and here she is, every week, being so kind to us.  It fills me with hope. 

We turn around when we hear a girl's voice squeak up "Hi Kiddo!!!" It's a younger girl from my son's school.  She seems very happy to see him and the Kiddo is hoping up and down flapping so I am guessing the feeling is mutual.  We run into lots of kids who go to his school.  They all know him.  They all approach him to say "Hello".  It's like they know he won't be the one to make the first social move and they are totally cool with being the one to do it.  They are always so kind to him. 

And that's what scares me.  Will they always be that kind?  That understanding?  That patient, as they grow older.  The middle school years are approaching at a lighting pace.  Right now, he's in that tiny elementary school bubble.  They all know him.  When they all go over to the middle school, will they look out for him?  Will they even say "Hi!" to him?  Four schools go into one middle school.  That's A LOT of new kids that haven't grown up with him.  Will those students simply introduce him as "Kiddo" to all these new students around him?  Will they be kind and pave that way for some new folks to see what an awesome kid he is? 

This is where I hope all this autism awareness and acceptance is rubbing off on people and hopefully trickling down to their kids.  I have hope and I see it in sparks all over the place.  We just need to keep it up.  

6 comments:

  1. Oh wow, now you make me wonder what it is going to be like for my kiddo, who is in first grade. Kids who have never had class with him, teachers who have never had him know him. He's just one of those kids people remember. He isn't autistic but had many of the tendencies (SPD is his diagnosis, along with speech delay and articulation issues), and so yes, he is quirky. I have witnessed some kids pass him by and ignore him as he walks to class, fists clenched, arms covering face, but I have seen some kids slow down and wait for him so they can walk him to his class. I have seen kids ignore him on the playground (he is socially awkward), but I have seen kids go out of their way to include him. I am hoping, praying, that it's more of the latter kids that we encounter as he goes through school.

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  2. My son with autism has a little brother who is also his "little big brother". I'm so proud of my little guy who looks after his big brother with autism. He's a role model for my son with autism. He is so kind and patient with his brother and with other children with special needs. I think, in general, this generation of children will always be kind, because they are growing up with this autism epidemic that we didn't have when we were kids.

    I'm so glad I had another child. At least I know that when I'm elderly or gone, his little brother will keep an eye on him for me.

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    1. If our life is a roller coaster then kids like these can only be the handlebars which we cling to. They are real, they are strong, and they can give us hope in times of fear. Here's to "little-bigs" everywhere. Someday I hope you see how precious they are to the future of kindness.

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  4. I have two boys and it's the younger one that has autism and apraxia. They have the same type of relationship you saw in the therapy office. They are still small, though, so I can only hope that as they grow up they will be close and the older one will still be nice and gentle with him. The middle school problem is a bigger one, though. It will be new kids and hormones and attitudes and cliches. Middle school is a monster for anyone, but all you can do is hope and pray he gets in with a group of nice friends that will accept him for who he is.

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