Susan's Blog

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Unearthing Love

I’m sitting here watching the Debate. I already know who I’m voting for, but I’m trying to encourage the boys to be interested in current events. I had to explain economics to Benj today, and I think he understood more than I did about it!

This is not a politics blog. This is a life blog. So I will let you all make up your own minds and I will hope for the best.

Want to know something really great that happened? Yesterday Benj had an assignment to draw what a 20th – 21st century archeological layer would look like; what kind of artifacts would a person from the future find and learn about our era? So Ben drew a disco ball, for the 1970’s; a game console for the 1990’s; a car; John McCain’s casket (I don’t make these things up); an iPod; and a beaker that read, “Cure for Autism.”

I did not realize that he felt that way. I did not believe, until now, that he even cared about the state of Nat’s disability. I can’t believe that I was so unseeing.

But suddenly I understood so much. I think that Ben’s anger at Nat has actually not been anger at Nat. It’s been anger about Nat. I think he has been sad and angry and disgusted with the fact that his relationship with Nat is so poor. I am NOT “blaming autism,” nor am I putting the blame on Nat, God knows.

Who do I blame? Do I blame God, for allowing a child to be so unprepared for this complicated world? Do I blame the world, for not understanding the beautiful gifts Nat has as the person he is, for seeing him only as limited? Do I blame myself, for not being able to find the approach that would raise his reading level or increase his word count?

There is no one to blame. It just is. It is unfair that Ben feels that he has nothing with Nat. I have tried to show him all the things Nat can do, but what Ben wants is to have a brother he can relate to, not a brother he has to work so hard to understand.

I feel so bad for him. But I am also so glad that he is thinking and feeling about how things could be better for him, for Nat, and people like Nat. I know that people don’t have to be rid of autism to be happy and successful, but Ben doesn’t believe that — yet.

What Ben doesn’t know is that despite his profound feelings of loss, he has already learned so much about people, about limitations, and about what love feels like. Someday he will realize that he has two wonderful brothers, each full of potential, whether that beaker gets filled or not.


Hi Susan, This post brought a real tug to my heart and tears to my eyes. I think it's because I believe I'm married to a grown up Ben or Max. And my brothers in law remind me of them too when they all sit around and share what it was like living with and finally each developing a relationship with their severely retarded brother. They all at times felt sad, angry, embarrassed, lonely, frustrated, scared. Just last week during one such discussion all three of them each said that HE was their favorite brother; most admired and most cherished.
Thanks for an excellent post & L'Shanah Tovah to you & yours

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 2:36 pm

I wish there were some kind of resource here that would help my youngest daughter deal with having a brother with autism. She has really become hostile to him lately, wondering why he is “lucky” to get such easy schoolwork, gets embarrassed if he starts stimming (that is rare) and has even asked me if he can leave when her friends are over. She’s has also taken to name calling, her favorites being “retard” and “idiot.” I have made sure to put a stop to it pronto, but she is getting into the preteen age when conformity and being accepted rules. My son’s twin sister has always been protective of him and has never cared or been bothered by his autism, but my youngest child is proving to be a problem.

— added by Sharon L. on Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm