Instead of reading about what my son "should" have been doing, I devoured books about autism. But, no matter how many books I read, there were no manuals that really, truly prepared me for being a parent--not to Derek or Tyler. I had to wing it. Everything I've learned in the past 7.5 years, has been through trial and error. I make a lot of mistakes.
Today, after school, Derek was downstairs working with one of his ABA therapists. Tyler must have been bored, because he wanted to go down and visit them. He even said, "The therapists don't mind when I come in." I told he couldn't bother them and he started crying. Actually, no...he started sobbing. I was shocked. I remember thinking, "What in the world is going on here????" I finally got him calmed down and had a little discussion with my son.
I didn't expect it to break my heart.
I explained to Tyler that, even though it seems like Derek is getting special attention from the girls that come to our house (4 different girls rotate Monday-Thursday), the girls do not come to play with Derek. They are coming to work with him and give him extra help with the things he is struggling with in school--like writing his letters and his numbers and drawing pictures. We are paying them to come, and in the two hours that they are there, Derek has to get his work done. The girls don't have time to play with him.
Tyler is getting to the age where he is finally realizing how different his brother is. He gets frustrated that Derek can't talk and play with him. He has a hard time understanding that Derek struggles with things that have always come easy to him. And lately, he's been telling me that things "aren't fair."
Today, with tears streaming down his cheeks, my son told me, "Sometimes I wish Derek didn't have autism!"
I pulled Tyler into my arms. I couldn't say anything. I couldn't agree, because then I'd be wishing Derek was a different child. And I love Derek--exactly the way he is. So I just hugged Tyler tight, knowing that what he really needed was attention and reassurance that he was loved. My eyes filled with tears and I didn't try to wipe them away.
I told Tyler, "I can't imagine how hard it is to be Derek's brother. But you're doing an amazing job. I'm so proud of you." And then I asked him, "You know how much I love you, right?"
"To the moon and back," he answered.