An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Love in the Unknown

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. April is Autism Awareness month.

Do you know someone with Autism?

The statistics are staggering ... 1 in 68 children are affected.

And I know one of them. His name is Peter, and he is my nephew.

I hesitate to write this because it's not my story. It's a story only my sister can tell, and my brother-in-law, and their two older boys.

And yet, I can't hold back the admiration and love I have for them and this, at least, is a story I can share.

I am very close with my sister. We talk several times a week, text and/or email each other daily, and turn to each other, as sisters do, with problems, questions, funny stories, or ideas. And yet, as much as I know my sister, I can't begin to know -- really know -- what it's like to raise a child with needs.

I don't know what it's like to have therapists in and out of your house. I have no concept of the amount of paperwork, forms, and evaluations which must be documented, copied, forwarded, and filed. I don't know what it feels like to solve one problem, only to have another one appear. I don't know what it's like to think outside the box to accommodate Peter's needs: attaching an alarm on the front door so he doesn't wander outside, hanging a Dutch door in his room so they can keep an eye on him, or figuring out how to diagnose him when he can't tell you his sick.

What I know, I know vicariously, and it will never be enough.

So I see my sister making picture books and wading through four months of paperwork to obtain a "talker" so Peter can communicate; I see my brother-in-law playing "green chair" with Peter, his favorite game which involves running around the yard with a green lawn chair; I see Peter's older brothers hugging him and sitting on the floor to play with him; I see a family who does what it has to do to make sure Peter has everything he needs.

I see all these things, and I am touched by all the goodness and love (lots and lots of love!) in the midst of so much which is unknown.

My adorable nephew, Peter.
P.S. Last year I asked my sister to come up with ways on how we (the rest of the family) can help. This was her response ... Puzzle Pieces (Read and Share Tips for the Extended Family of a Child with Autism).


Cathy Keller said...

Thank you for sharing! A very loving and touching post! Cathy

Anonymous said...

At least Peter looks in the direction of the one taking the pic:) I know adults who were autistic in childhood and they can come a long way!