My son Brody is 5 years old. Cognitively, due to his autism and disabilities, he is around the age of 18 months to 2 years (or less, if you read the last assessment he had of this kind). My daughter Sydney is a neurotypical 2-year-old.
Both are very different. Both are very beautiful. And both are very much loved.
To Syd, Brody is Brody. She accepts him for who is he—her brother. And in a world where we really should just embrace differences and celebrate them, that is a beautiful thing. Because, sadly, this isn’t always the case.
When she was younger, I heard the phrase “big little sister/brother” thrown about by fellow parents of children with disabilities. And now she is a little older, I’ve begun to know exactly what they meant. Because a big little sister is exactly what Syd has become—and an awesome one at that.
The movie star, Sally Phillips, whose eldest son Ollie has Down syndrome, once said something that I love and can relate with:
“The siblings of special needs children are quite special. Absolutely accepting and totally loving, from birth, someone who is different mentally, and has a different way of seeing the world, is a wonderful trait. It’s a trait I wish there was another way of getting, but there isn’t. And it does involve a degree of not having it fantastically easy.”
Because you see, that’s exactly it. Being a big little sister is an amazing thing. But it can’t always be easy.
I imagine that there will be times when she wants to do things and we can’t.
I imagine that there will be times when she’ll see the world treat Brody differently and she’ll struggle to understand and will feel upset and angry.
I imagine that there will come a time why she wonders why they don’t go to the same school.
And I’m waiting for the day she asks why he doesn’t talk back or play with her quite the way a typical child would.
But let me tell you this.
I know that no child will ever “get” Brody more.
I know that no child will quite fight for him like she will.
And I know that no child will love him quite as much for who he is.
Whilst she has taught him lots, he is teaching her too and he will help to shape who she becomes.
A caring and accepting person.
What a wonderful gift.