Understanding and Relating to Autism – A Personal Connection
As part of Autism Awareness Month, Bilingual Therapies is showing our support by featuring a personal story from one of our colleagues. Aubrey Roberts wanted to “Light it Up Blue” this month and share a heartwarming story about growing up with and caring for a family member who has autism.
“I always had a huge family growing up and they are all relatively close, which allowed us to stay connected very easily. Every year we would have a family reunion, where kids would run around uncontrollably, adults would play cards and cook, and the entire family would laugh and sing. When I started high school, several of my aunts and uncles would have me watch their children. I loved this task because I always bonded really well with children and still had a lot of toys remaining from my childhood. I never really knew much about Autism until college, mainly because I never seemed to interact with it. But little did I know, my cousin, Carl, had Autism all along.
With my family, no one was treated differently and no one was restricted of any activities. Babysitting my cousin, Carl, did seem a little different to me, but I thought he was just another kid who didn’t want to stay in one place. No big deal. I would pull out toy cars for him, put on animated movies, build pillow fortresses, do whatever it took to maintain his attention span (the cars worked the best). Although his sister would just sit down and watch movies, I never thought to myself that Carl was any different. I would always treat him the same, play with him the same and, retroactively, I think this encouraged social interaction and functionality with the people around him. As I continued to watch him, I became better at keeping his attention span and just identified better with what his interests were. Although he didn’t speak much (or really at all), he was still able to communicate to me what his needs were.
Once I started studying Psychology in college, I became aware of Carl’s disability. As I flipped each page on Autism, more things were being confirmed about his characteristics and personality. Once I became more educated, I thought to myself “only if I knew earlier, I would have interacted differently or been more focused.” But I do believe that my lack of education may have benefitted him way more.
I recently visited home for my youngest sister’s birthday party, and with any 5 year old party, there was a trampoline, cotton candy machine, ice slurpee machine, moonwalk, and tons of little rascals running wild. Amongst these kids was my cousin Carl, who seemed just as joyful and interactive as all the rest. Every time I see Carl now (which isn’t very often), he has a smile and a few other nonverbal reactions. In return, I smile back and tell him that I have a few more Hot Wheel cars he can borrow anytime.”
-Aubrey Roberts, Bilingual Therapies Recruitment Manager
………………………………Our clinicians work with wonderful students and children just like this each day! Check out our latest special education jobs to join our supportive team and make a difference!