Just Like Brothers.

My son is my only natural child.  I have two wonderful grown up stepchildren that are half-brother and sister of my son.  “Sissy” is 27 and lives in the “City” (San Francisco).  She and I have been very close since our beginning but only rarely see each other now because of her busy work schedule and my inability to travel regularly with the little guy that far away.

My son’s other sibling is “Brother Josh”, as the little guy calls him, who is 32 years old and also lives quite far away.  Contrary to how my son refers to him, “Brother Josh” is not in the monastery.  He is actually an avid skim-boarder and snowboarder with a day job. Josh was living on his own from the time my husband and I first met, years ago so Josh and I never shared a household.  He is very quiet.  Over the years, he slowly started opening up and sharing stories.  As he has, I’ve learned how awesome and kind my stepson really is.

It has to be a strange world for a 32 year old single guy with no kids to have a 5 year old brother.  Even so, Josh has slowly warmed to the idea and, at least from my perspective, he’s come to care for and love his little brother more each time they see each other.  It’s a little more complex with the little guy’s language and social delays.  Josh will try to talk to his little brother but is often met with quirky language and echolalia.  I can see how this is awkward for him because sometimes, he doesn’t know what his little brother is talking about.  (Sometimes, even I have no idea what he’s talking about…)

The first few times they met was long before the diagnosis.  While the little guy showed no sign of interest in his big brother, his big brother always seemed warm to the little one.

Each time they met up, it seemed to get easier, especially when Josh was bearing cool Christmas gifts like a video arcade game.

Then came the shock of the diagnosis.    For the first few months after we received the diagnosis, we did not tell Josh or Sissy about their brother’s disability.  We did not tell anyone for that matter.  Josh heard it before Sissy because he was the first one who came to the house when we felt comfortable enough to use the word “autism” with others which took us some time.  Josh was very non-judgmental.  He told us that his girlfriend had suspected his little brother had autism and told him about it before we said anything.  Apparently, we all had the code of silence about it early on.

The strange part is that I have no idea why we did not tell his siblings about his diagnosis early on.  Josh was concerned but loving and accepting and really why would we expect anything else?  Yes, the grandparents are a different story.  But young, smart, and kind are a good combination for Tootles’ siblings who love and accept the little guy just as he is.

For some reason, this last visit on Tootles’ birthday, the little guy still did not talk much or make a lot of eye contact with his big brother.  He did run to him to help open plastic or heavily cardboard locked presents.  “Will you please open it please?  Open the present!!”  he called out to his big brother who willingly complied.

As usual, the little guy pretty much ignored his brother for the rest of the visit and had to be prompted to tell him goodbye when he left.

Then, late at night, when he was all dressed in his pajamas and ready for bed, he asked to bring two large remote control cars he got for his birthday into the bedroom from the living room.  We got them, set them close by and he repeatedly checked on them, calling them “Thirsty” and the “Nissan”.  He would snuggle in his pillow, then get excited and get up to check on them.  Just before he closed his eyes for the night, he said,  “They’re sleeping next to each other.  Just like brothers.”

How’s that for love?


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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6 Responses to Just Like Brothers.

  1. Awww. It’s amazing how much our kids know — even if they do not let on. Little Miss shocks me almost every day with some new tidbit. I thought she wasn’t listening. I thought she was “somewhere else.” But lo and behold, she was right there with me in her own way.

    “Brother Josh” is a handsome guy — surprises me that someone like him is still single. If only I had a sister! 😉

  2. Amanda says:

    Very sweet! 🙂

  3. Lizbeth says:

    Like Karla, I’m amazed how much my little one is right there with me even when he seems to have left the room. I now know better. He may not be outwardly interested but I know he’s absorbing and taking in everything.

    He’ll come round soon enough in his own time and way. That last comment by Tootles was priceless.

  4. OMum22 says:

    That made me cry. So sweet. And you have a wonderful step-son!

  5. eof737 says:

    AWWWW that is so sweet. That is fantastic! 🙂

  6. Grace says:

    My Ryan has four step siblings on his dad’s side (he’s remarried, I’m not). His oldest step brother is 24. His name is Josh, too. Hmmm. Anyway, I only ever saw the two of them interact once, but I wanted to run up to that kid and hug him for being so patient and attentive with my son.

    It’s awesome that Tootles has siblings to love who won’t wreck his toys or steal mom’s attention.

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