Today, one of my co workers had their last day. He has been there for over a year and we had a going away party for him. At one point in the party, we asked if any of the clients wanted to say anything. The "thank you's," compliments, and "I will miss you's" were overwhelming and heart wrenching. I guess you can never truly know how much you mean to someone. It gave me goosebumps and I wanted to cry -- not only because it was so sweet, but it made me wonder, what would Sammy say? I know that I am thankful for everyone in his life -- but what amazing things would he have to say? I know he cherishes each and every one of you -- but wouldn't we all kill to just hear what he thinks? His opinion would be my most respected opinion in my life. If only I could have it.
I am thankful for the kiss my brother gives me and the smile he puts on his face when he sees me. I know that it may not have anything to do with me but its his way of showing me that he cares. Its a small connection I can have with him, that I would have with everyone else in my family when I say goodbye or hello after a long time.
I wish more people were aware of how much we really don't know. Not about Autism in general - but what's going on in their heads. I don't know if Sammy likes the heat or the winter better, I don't know what he thinks about an episode of TV, I don't know what his favorite color is. Yes, we can assume or guess based on things he picks out of smiles at -- but its not like he can actually tell us. Oh, if only I could get inside his head for five minutes.
Autism from a sibling's point of view...
My name is Paige and I am 24 years old. I graduated from Towson University with a Psychology Bachelors Degree. I am now working towards my Master's in Education of Autism and other Pervasive Disorders at Johns Hopkins. I am also a Behavior Data Specialist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute Neurobehavioral Inpatient Unit. My younger brother, Sammy, is 19 and has Autism. He is completely non-verbal, unaware of safety, is not toilet trained, cannot get himself dressed, and has difficulty with everyday activities that we all take advantage of. He works harder every single day of his life than anyone I know and he always does it with a smile on his face. He is my true hero and inspiration and because of him, I have dedicated my life to advocating and creating opportunities for individuals with Autism. I hope that I can make him proud and this blog is just a small part of the awareness I hope I can create about Autism and support other siblings impacted by Autism. I love you Sammy - thank you for everything.