Monday, August 5, 2013

It Embarrasses Me.

We were standing in line to check out at the grocery store.

Brian was flapping and laughing as he usually does in the checkout lane, when Corbin hissed to him, "Stop doing that, Brian".

I gave Corbin a look and told him that Brian wasn't doing anything wrong.

Corbin hung his head, looking ashamed, but whispering under his breath, "It embarrasses me when people look at him and think he's a weirdo."

Corbin is an amazing big brother, we all know that.  He has stepped up to the plate many times over the years.  He has educated his peers, he has stood up for his brother, he has bent to his will many times over.

But he's a child.  A child going into middle school.  A child who is suddenly becoming aware of societal norms and wanting to "fit in".  A child who already has his own social anxieties and difficulties.

I didn't educate him in the moment but we talked later at home.  He went on and told me that he really wants friends in middle school and he is worried that in middle school kids are meaner and won't like him if he has a brother who is "weird" in their eyes.  I asked him where he got such notions and he replied, "I watch TV, Mom and middle school kids are bullies" (thanks TV!).

We talked about not wanting friends who would be mean to other kids who are different.  We talked about the fact that most of the kids in middle school are the same ones he has grown up with and they already know and love Brian and are already his friends.  We talked about how Brian can't help his stimming and he's doing his best to fit in as well and he needs our support and love.

That moment of him being embarrassed of his brother hurt my heart a little.  However, I know this stage Corbin is entering is a hard one and we need to support him as well.  I try to remember myself at that age.  I remember how desperately I wanted to fit in and for the most part I assume I was fairly typical.  Corbin already has many social and communication deficits that meet an Aspergers diagnosis as well as having a brother who is very different from his peers.  It has to be hard for a ten-year-old to take in.

I want Corbin to grow up to be a person who is compassionate, empathetic, and secure enough in his own skin to realize he doesn't need or want other people's judgments.  I want Corbin to grow up knowing that his needs are just as important as his brother's.  I want him to be heard.  I want him to get through this upcoming tween and teen stage with as little hurt as possible and come out of it with a strong voice and sense of self.

Tricky waters ahead.


Daniel Mont said...

I have two sons -- now 23 and 25 -- one of whom is autistic. His non-autistic brother was a great brother growing up, but also became very embarrassed at times during the middle school years. It's natural, and I think you handled it really well. Puberty is tough, and his feelings and concerns need to be respected just as much. My son got over that in just a couple years. Do you know about Sibnet, the support network for people with sibilings with disabilities? They run Sibshops in may areas for siblings to support each other. It's great. The concerns of sibs are often put on the back burner.

Heather said...

Hi Daniel, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I actually immediately began researching SibShops right after I published this post. It's something I've wanted to do for a while but the recent talk has made me motivated. I hadn't heard of Sibnet though and will be checking that out next! Thanks again!

Aunt Ellie said...

And if there is anyone out there that can do this it is you Heather!! You are a wonderful strong and amazing Mom!!! I am so proud of you and your wonderful loving boys!

Daniel Mont said...

Sibnet also has a very active Facebook page