“What?? He can’t be 8! That’s impossible.”
That’s what I heard a neighborhood boy exclaim after asking Corbin how old Brian was.
I seem to find myself in these spots often and I inched closer to the open window to hear what Corbin would respond.
“Yes he is 8! It’s because he has autism! AUTISM!” yelled Corbin who seems to be getting more and more angry about having to explain it over the years.
“Autism? I don’t know what that is,” replied the little boy.
“It’s just something he has, okay? It means that when he is a kid, he acts like a baby. When he’s a teenager, he’ll act like a kid. When he’s a grown-up, he’ll act like a teenager. And when he’s finally a really old, old person he’ll act like a grown-up.”
I had never heard Corbin explain autism like that before and my heart broke a little not really knowing what Brian’s progress will look like over the years. Corbin obviously believes his brother will obtain full speech abilities and independence, and I hope for that as well. However, the years of autism and slow progress sometimes make me feel like a cynic.
I didn’t interject but later Corbin came in and asked if I heard the conversation. I told him I did and he asked me, “Was that right Mom? Is it like he is a baby now?”
I kissed his forehead and told him I was proud of him for taking the time to try to explain autism to his friends and then I said, “I know Brian can’t talk very much and that is sometimes why he seems like a baby. But we also know that he can add any three numbers together, spell really long words, remembers the directions to places even if he has only been there once, and can build some really awesome train tracks. Do you think babies can do those things?”
Corbin smiled and kind of laughed, “I didn’t even think of those things! You’re right Mom! He’s not like a baby at all, he is really smart with some things.”
Yes, he really is. Both of my boys really are.