Last week, we heard that there was a National Siblings Day. National Sibling day is a day to celebrate your brothers and sisters. Some people did that by sharing their pictures on their facebook and Instagram pages. For today’s Sunday post, we wanted to share a little bit about what it means to be a brother and a sister to Ronan.
The autism he has and that we experience makes Ronan not be able to speak. It makes him unable to do things that other people can do. It also makes it harder for him to walk. He has lots of medical issues which means things are tough for our brother.
One thing that makes me, Ronan’s youngest sister, very sad is when he is unable to speak and he gets upset and he starts banging his knees to tell me he is really sad. That happens when I can’t understand him. I try to help him and he knows I’m trying. But my favorite thing to do with him is to play with him and make him laugh. I made him laugh two nights by saying his favorite word, which is colors. I start spelling it one letter at a time: c-o-l-o-r…and he has to say the last letter. He actually said S! So I did it again. C-o-l-o-r…and he said S again! It made both of us laugh.
When I think about what autism is like for Ronan, I, Ronan’s younger sister, know that it means he’s not being able to do as many activities as we can do. It means he has trouble getting us to know what he wants because he has no speech and because of his disability. His brain works a little slower sometimes, too. That doesn’t stop him trying to tell us stuff. Sign language, typing out what he wants on his voice output device, and encouraging him to say letters individually are some things I do with him to instruct him. He’s happy when I do that kind of stuff with him.
When he does try to speak to me it’s harder to have meaning behind it (he makes more vocal sounds than verbal words). I’m Ronan’s younger brother and like that he’s trying, but it’s hard for other people to understand it and him. He gets frustrated a lot. Every night we pray for Ronan. I ask God to help Ronan to be able to expand his vocabulary and be able to use it by speaking to us. We know that Ronan knows a lot of things, but he’s stuck trying to get those thoughts out. I want to know what he’s thinking. I also want him to play with the rest of us. He’s a really fun kid when he wants to play with me.
Mom says I’m Ronan’s biggest helper. I’m the oldest sibling and Ronan’s big sister. I sometimes don’t know why mom makes a big deal about me helping Ronan. He’s my brother. I help him because he’s so awesome and because he needs lots of assistance. I remember when it was just the two of us, before the other kids were born. Ronan was more interactive and playful. He was so happy and had the best laugh. He’s a lot quieter now. But it doesn’t mean that he can’t do things. Of course, he has a lot of limitations, but I include him and talk to him about what I’m doing because I want him to know about my school, my sports, and my friends. He isn’t able to communicate back with me like we all wish he could, but he has stuff to tell us and I love it when he tries to use his words. He stares at us so intently. It’s like he’s trying to get us to see the word he’s thinking about. That eye contact is so amazing! It only happens when he’s trying to talk, so I make sure to stay with him as long as he needs me to.
If we could share something with other siblings, we’d want you to know:
Always try to include your sibling in things you are doing.
Be positive even if your sibling is not.
Always be there for your family.
Keep helping and trying on the tough days.
It gets better. It may not seem like it in a certain moment, but it does get better.
Sometimes it helps if you go to therapy with your brother or sister because it can make them feel comfortable. Plus, you get to get to learn how he or she learns. That’s pretty neat.
Kids like our brother sometimes don’t know how to express themselves. He can’t say, “I love you!” or, “I think you’re pretty cool!”, but we continue to be ready to help him. That’s because we’re siblings for life.
One more thing, always pray for them.