Our eight-year-old, Knox, is an “old soul.” There is just a knowing that he has… like he can feel people and situations. He’s still an eight-year-old, full of laughter and fun and light, and he still makes mistakes… he’s not perfect but he is so Good. He’s been through heavy himself, and heavy with us, and he just seems to understand. He “gets it.”
Knox takes great pride in being Tobin’s big brother, but it’s not an easy role. It often comes with many sacrifices—some he realizes he’s making and some he doesn’t because they have just become a part of our life. Sometimes this means one parent watching him play a ballgame while the other stays home or sits in the car or walks around the lobby. Sometimes it means a noisy commute to wherever we are headed. Sometimes it’s leaving a fun activity shortly after we’ve arrived.
And Knox mostly takes it in stride.
Knox sees the blessings of being Tobin’s brother, but I think Brian and I see them more clearly. We get to see the way Tobin is shaping Knox’s outlook on life, his little personality and the way he cares for and values people.
We’ve always emphasized the idea that Knox has a voice. And if he doesn’t use his voice, no one can know how to help him, how to come alongside him, and that his voice can change the world. With autism, we’ve discovered that it isn’t one of those “one and done” conversations. It’s a topic we talk about frequently, reminding Knox (and ourselves) how autism affects Tobin. It helps Knox to not take Tobin’s actions personally and to remember that Tobin has a hard time with certain things.
For Autism Awareness Month, Knox has been using his voice by working on a piece of writing for this week’s post. He has titled it and done the artwork. The handwritten post is the picture below. I’ve typed it for him below that.
Tobin and I
I want to tell you about a little boy named Tobin. He is tall. He is Korean. He loves cars. He loves tangrams. He’s my brother. He also has autism.
Things I love about Tobin is that he snuggles with us a lot. Some of the things that are funny is his laugh and it makes me want to laugh, too. He also gives me kisses at bedtime that I love. Sometimes I’m playing a video game or reading and he sits right by me looking at a car.
Some hard things are that he has meltdowns and in them he screams and pulls hair. It makes me feel sad because he won’t stop until a long time. Sometimes Tobin has a meltdown because he can’t tell us what he wants. Sometimes I try to help him and sometimes it doesn’t help but I still help mom and dad.
I learn a lot from Tobin. One is that you should be patient and kind. Two is that you should treat him good, like hugging him. Three is that he shows me how to love and that everybody brings good into the world.
Tobin has autism but you should still be kind to him. He needs more understanding than us. I love being his brother.