This is the day our family started. Alex was 7, Brandon was 6, and Joshua was 3. Like most blended families, we were certain everything would be smooth sailing.
I adopted Brandon and Josh In 2006. Steve adopted Alex the same day. Brandon and Josh’s mom passed away prior to Steve and I meeting. Her parents and sister are still active in our family life and we love that they are a part of our autism community. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now we are a family and we just knew how seamlessly we would be able to work autism into our daily lives. We really were naive back in the day. But we do it. Because we love all of our boys, even though one seems to need more time and attention.
Steve and I always agreed that it is not Alex and Josh’s responsibility to take care of Brandon and his many communication and sensory needs.
We still went to soccer games, t ball games, football games, band concerts, movies, parks, etc. Sometimes Brandon went with us. Other times, friends would stay with Brandon in our home. Grandparents would step in and let us go out while they would keep Brandon. Occasionally, Steve or I would need to stay home. We did our best. Isn’t that what most families do, with or without autism?
Brandon will always need someone looking out for him. He will always need help and support when making decisions. How would Alex and Josh feel about being responsible for their brother if something were to happen to Steve and I? As we get older, we think about this more and more.
Last night, Steve and I were talking about today’s day program visit. (By the way, it went really, really well.) Steve needed to be at work, so I asked Alex if he wanted to go with me.
He didn’t hesitate…yes. He also said that he wants to learn more about “the Brandon stuff”. I don’t think he is ready for the big binders of stuff I have, but he WANTS to learn.
We talked about what life will look like for Brandon when Steve and I aren’t here. Nobody likes those conversations, but it is a reality we have to deal with. Alex let us know, in no uncertain terms, that he and Josh will always be there for Brandon. I think the exact phrase was “we will always have his back” and we know he means it. Josh had entered the room by this time. We filled him in on the conversation and he said the exact same thing.
I remembered all the times they were there for their brother. School programs, staying with him so I could go to the grocery store by myself, sitting down and doing a puzzle with him, fist bumps and high fives, squeezes, and of course they let him smell them. They know Brandon as well as we do.
Why would they do this? Because, as I was told, that’s what brothers do.