Age Related Concerns

WINNER:  4th to 6th Grade Age 9 Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School Erich Seeger (center) with brothers Jacob (right) and Philipp (left). “My brother is the bravest kid I know,” is what I told the man when he asked if Jacob would be intimidated to sing in front of a crowd of people during Autism Awareness Night at the Lakewood Blueclaws Game.  I said this because I had already seen Jacob wow the crowd during the opening ceremonies of the Field of Dreams League.  Jacob loves to sing, and even more, he loves to sing into a microphone.  Maybe he feels that he has to make up for all those years he wasn’t able to talk.  I don’t know why, I just know I would never be brave enough to do that.  I did get some of the glory though, because everyone asked me if I was Jacob’s big brother. One of the other differences between us is that Jacob loves to dance.  When I try dancing, I just look goofy and clumsy.  But when Jacob dances everyone gets into the music and enjoys themselves. Jacob has a different sense of humor.  One time in a video game, Jacob pointed out that a certain character’s belly gets pinned to the wall.  It was really funny.  Although I had played the game a ton of times I never noticed that part.  I was glad he showed it to me and made me laugh. Sometimes Jacob helps me see things that I would have otherwise missed.  I love computers and video games as much as every other 9 year old, but Jacob loves them differently.  My brother is so smart on computers.  His curiosity helps him find web sites and links I never even noticed.  One time he found a whole other game on one of my PlayStation2 games. That was so cool. Even though my brother is different, and sometimes annoying, my parents have tried to show me how some of his differences are good.  Sometimes strangers stare at him, but I know that Jacob isn’t bothered by this.  Anyone who can sing in front of over 9,000 people, like Jacob did that night last summer in Lakewood, is amazing. WINNER:  7th to 9th Grade Age 13    Lake Riviera Middle School Morgan Sweeney with Brother NicholasMy name is Morgan Sweeney and I have a younger brother who has autism. My brother’s name is Nicholas and he was diagnosed with autism at 2 years of age. Over the past 8 years since Nicholas has been diagnosed, I have learned a lot. I enjoy going places and being around Nicholas. He is so much fun. When I am with my brother sometimes I forget that he has autism. That is how much fun he is. He makes me laugh and I make him laugh. We both have fun together. We play outside and play sports together. It is really fun. When Nicholas was younger was when the autism really affected him. He used to have tantrums and he used to scream at the top of his lungs when he did not get his way. Sometimes he still does, but not as much as he used to. Nicholas was once in an inclusive classroom because his autism was thatbad.  Now and since kindergarten, Nicholas has been in a LLD class.  He can only do one thing at a time, but very slowly. Many people who don’t have this problem can do things just as fast as he can. That makes him unique. Nicholas is currently in a classroom with children that don’t share the same illness as he does, but that have other disabilities. Nicholas even has a little girlfriend. He is only in 4th grade. All the children in my brother’s class get along with him and my brother gets along with them. Nicholas is a wonderful person and a fantastic brother. He plays on a Challenger’s baseball team. The first time Nicholas ever played baseball, there where 3 girls sitting on the bleachers making fun of all the children with disabilities. I was so upset when I heard. I ran to the dugout and told my mom and she was upset just like I was. My sister had overheard and went and yelled at all of the girls sitting on the bleachers. On that day and that moment, I wanted to cry because I don’t even think those girls know what all of the families go through to help their children eventually get better. I can’t imagine what our lives would be like without Nicholas. My family takes part in many picnics and conferences to help people understand more about autism. We all enjoy doing this and taking part in everything that we do. I am always quick to help someone who has special needs or just a regular person in general. No matter what, no matter who, I am willing to help. I even try to help my mom with everything that has to do with my brother. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Nicholas.  It would be like trying to look through a broken mirror–nothing would be there, just a whole other life just waiting to be found.  All these great experiences that I had with my brother would be gone. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who understands Nicholas. He helped me realize what I wantedto do in my future. Right now I want to be a Pediatrician. I love Nicholas and he loves me. Nothing can ever change that.  WINNER: 10th to 12th Grade Age 16 Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart Won’t you wanna take me on a sea cruise?” I glance at the clock on my bedside table and realize that it is already 1:40 a.m. On nights like these, my autistic brother Alex’s love of singing is less than a blessing. “At least he is only singing, and not screaming or kicking his door like he did so often when he was younger…but if only he would just fall asleep…” I say to myself. When I think about how much my fifteen-year-old brother’s continual struggles to connect with the world around him have affected me, I cannot help but feel that so many people do not have the slightest idea of what my family goes through on a daily basis, and that perhaps that they will never really understand. The difficulties of living with an autistic brother have shaped my approach to life and have given me a resilience thatI could never have gained any other way. As a young girl, I was embarrassed to be around my brother, whose sudden, violent tantrums would elicit stares from unsuspecting strangers. Now that I am older and more mature, I am no longer embarrassed. In fact, I couldn’t be more proud of my brother and all of his amazing progress. Though Alex’s autism has severely limited his ability to communicate with others and his understanding of how to interact with them, I have witnessed him reaching out to me in unexpected ways, which has given me indescribable joy and a strong sense of hope.” “My brother and I have built our relationship on a very different foundation than most siblings I know. Even though we don’t have traditional sister-to-brother conversations, we find other ways to talk to one another. Ever since I was a little girl I have paid close attention to what makes my brother smile so I can find different ways of showing him how much I love him. We belt out Hilary Duff songs, we do TaeBo exercise moves together, we play a very unconventional form of baseball on our front lawn, we rub noses, we have staring contests, we make silly noises, we dance around while singing like Bruce Springsteen, and I don’t care what anyone thinks of it because this is what makes my relationship with Alex unique and special. These carefree, playful interactions are how we communicate with each other.Sometimes it is difficult to hold his attention, and sometimes he just doesn’t seem to care, but there are also many beautiful moments when we will be with each other and all of a sudden, he will seemingly “break out” of the shell of his autism and say something completely appropriate. One afternoon, I was feeling lousy on the way home from my sports practice. Alex and I were sitting in the car together. My mom said, “Alex, say ‘hi’ to Sarah.” I turned around to look at him, weary from a tough day, and his eyes immediately met mine. “I love you, Sarah.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *