With more than 1 in 88 kids in the U.S. now being diagnosed on the autism spectrum, it’s impossible to find anyone who hasn’t been touched by it in some way – either through neighbors, friends or relatives.
And as challenging and difficult as it may be for us parents to cope with all that comes with raising children on the spectrum, its sometimes easy to forget those who are equally (if not more so) impacted by it: siblings of autistic boys and girls.
I can’t count how many times Renee and I have said to each other “Thank God for Ty” because of the kind of brother he has been and is for Stone. Ty is a walking definition of unconditional love and wants nothing more than to see Stone’s success. When we congratulate and cheer Stone on when he says something new or has some sort of breakthrough Ty is right there with us – even more enthusiastic in his support than us.
Ty has also served as a Mother Hen of sorts for Stone when they’re at school together or out in public. Ty isn’t shy about redirecting Stone if he feels he’s getting too far away (or too near an emergency exit with an alarm). There is a part of me that wishes Ty didn’t have to carry this level of burden at such a young age but I also know that part of it is also just his personality. His teacher told me he is one of the most kind and helpful students in her class (that is, when he’s not playing a competitive game or trying to be smarter than everyone else). But kindness and empathy has deep roots in Ty – its just part of who is and always has been.
So it’s only obvious that I thought about Ty when I saw this video about siblings of autistic kids. It’s beautifully done – both inspiring and moving at the same time. And yes, it did produce a few tears as well.
David Kaufer is a fun-loving Super Dad of 8-year-old twin sons, an insane Oregon Ducks fanatic (follow him on Twitter @DavidKaufer), advocate for green/sustainability and autism issues, and connoisseur of Northwest microbrews. He and his wife Renee moved to Edmonds in 2005 to raise their family (and enjoy the gorgeous views).