Across Time and Space
Two years ago in an Insights post titled “Connections,” I wrote about my severely autistic son’s behavior toward his big brother, who was about to move away to London. Language-challenged Sean reverted to actions we hadn’t seen in years. Unable to verbalize his emotions, he showed frustration by trying to bite his brother’s arm.
Processing the concept of a loved one moving away or coming home to visit for a short time is not easy for Sean. He does, however, have a powerful sense of intuition.
Though he did not explicitly understand one morning two years ago that his brother would be on a plane by the time he got home from his support program, Sean engaged his brother in long eye contact and smiles before he left for his day. He knew somehow that it was time to show extra love to his brother.
Now, for a second year in a row, big brother is coming home from England to stay through the holidays. Typically, instead of big hugs and smiles when Sean first sees his brother after a long absence, he almost ignores him. It’s as if he’s not sure to trust that his brother is actually real.
Before a full day passes, though, Sean will be sitting close to his brother on the sofa. He’ll hold his hand on family hikes. Sean will revert to his old habit of yelling his brother’s name loudly and repeatedly for the duration of his visit, his way of insisting that his brother stay nearby.
And then when the holidays are done we’ll start all over again as big brother flies back to his job in London.
Being the sibling of a special needs sister or brother is not a typical life experience. It can be very challenging, but also presents the opportunity to be more patient, more understanding, and more adaptable.
Cheers to all the brothers and sisters who do their best navigating their own lives while being supportive of special needs siblings and caregiver parents. They are members of a hidden club who don’t receive enough acknowledgement!
This week’s HikingAutism Hike Notes from the archives is Stinson Beach, one of Marin County’s most iconic beaches, great for long walks whether in summer or winter.
This week’s Hike Notes from the Archives:
(Original Hike Notes 147): Stinson Beach
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Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.