Monthly Archives: June 2013

Teaching autism


Autism has had a big effect on my life. I have never known a life without autism because of my brother, Brian. I wouldn’t want it any other way. He has taught me to see the world through a different lens.

For the past few years, I have been watching Brian as a summer job. This summer I’ve been taking him off the bus and hanging out with him at least once a week. Today, I invited a good friend of mine, let’s call him John, to tag along so he could see the everyday interaction between Brian and me.

Saturday afternoon, Brian asked if he could go to Dairy Cottage with me. This surprised me because I have never taken Brian out to eat. We have always gone to the moves and the bookstore together, but going out to a restaurant was something new.

I told Brian I would take him Tuesday when he got home from school. That night, I got in touch with John who is studying disabilities in school and has asked about spending time with Brian. I asked him if he wanted to spend the afternoon and he said yes.

John arrived at my house around four, and Brian was already in the pool. Brian has a daily one-hour trek to and from school so I try to get him outside to expel some energy. In the summer months, Brian is a fish. He’ll play in the water for about ten to fifteen minutes and then lay back on his raft for hours.

Today Brian seemed more on edge than usual. It took him some time to get in the pool, but he eventually got to his happy place. Brian and water somewhat coincide with each other. It’s amazing how something so simple can have such a big effect on him. It is likely because of the sensory issues shared by many autistics.

Maybe the water calms him because it surrounds and puts light pressure on his body. Maybe it is the effect of the water offering some resistance. Maybe the kid loves to swim and there’s nothing to it.

After swimming, the three of us went to Dairy Cottage. Brian was a happy kid and enjoyed his pizza and french fries, mountain of salt included. When we got home, I let Brian have some free time because he was so good. At this time, John asked many questions about Brian and his life. It was a neat experience for me to teach someone about the daily life of Brian.