2002: I am 11 years old and my youngest brother is diagnosed with high-functioning autism. I have no idea what sort of an impact this will have on my life, and that of my family as well. I don’t remember most of what happened for the first few years. But I developed a desire to help those who were also affected by this same disorder. I began getting involved more and more. My first experience with autism not including my brother was through a family I met through my church’s respite event. Twins with varrying degrees of autism, so basically they were like my brother split into two little kids. I would babysit them whenever was needed. I learned alot from these boys and their sister…not only about autism and what it’s like for different families…but I learned alot about myself. How much I love kids, and how much I want to work with them for the rest of my life and be able to make a difference for them and their families.
Autism can’t be cured, it can’t be fixed with a magic pill. It is something that individuals and families live with and have to conquer each and every day. Each day is full of new struggles and new obstacles to overcome.
Like with many of these entries that I write, I don’t exactly know where I am going with this…so I will most likely be all over the place.
Although I, personally, am not affected by autism…my family is…through my brother. I am in a weird position at the moment; as I have been away at college for the past three and a half months and am now home for a short break. I have not by any means forgotten the daily struggles that accompany a child with autism, but I think that I had gotten used to not having it right there in my face. So coming home was a shock and reality check for me. For the next week and a half I am living back in the reality that has thus been my life for the past eight years.
I would not trade my brother for anything in the world, I love him with all of my heart and in many ways can thank him for helping me to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.
None the less, the past week has been an eye opener for me…I’m not exactly sure what to, but something. At first things were all good, it was just an abundance of excitement that I was home. But then as the “shininess of the new toy” wore off, as he began to realize that I’m here and going to be for a while….he started to become his old self again. There are little parts of this old self that I can only take so much of before I want to explode and break down. Today was that day…the constant sarcastic remarks, the constant defiance towards me, the remarks that he thinks to be funny…but are the farthest thing from. These are all things that I have not had to deal with on a daily basis since I left at the end of August.
I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that was one of the turning point in me being able to understand that what I’m doing is ok…For quite some time I felt alot of guilt about leaving to go to school…I have always felt like I have to take care of people, especially my brothers. and so leaving and going so far away seemed like a selfish thing for me to do. But yesterday I was reminded that this time is for me, I have been focusing on helping other people for so long…that now I need to just take some time and focus on me. Focus on growing, figuring out what I want to do, what I need to do.
Going 712 miles away to college has possibly been one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life…although it was the hardest and was questioned many many times. but it has allowed to completely start over and define how I want people to see me. How I want to be known. People here in San Mateo, a majority of those in my life, have known me for a good portion of my life. They have views of me, that may not necessarly be who I am today. Some have known me since birth, some since elementary school. Some even as late as 2 years ago. But I am not the same person that I was then. I had the opportunity, and still do to choose how people in Oregon will see me. Will they know me as a party girl? No. Will they know me as the girl who does nothing but study? I hope not. Will they see my desire to grow in the Lord and make Him a part of my everyday life? This is my prayer. I am trying to reinvent myself as a person.
So as I said this is all over the place, but in some way…in my head all of these things connect.
Theres this weird little application on facebook that one of my friends sent me the other day and it randomly popped up today and this is what it said:
“You’ve carried the guilt, the shame for long enough. You’ve kept your wounds open for long enough. The time has come to let go, to heal. Keep the lessons and let the pain heal. Yes, you know what we are talking about it.”
This is my time…to figure out who I am. “Part of knowing where I’m going, is knowing where I’ve come from.”