The World Should Know That My Brother…
… Has THE best laugh. Mom, Drew, Nicholas and I will be driving home from school and he will think of a movie line or a funny character in a video and he starts giggling in the strangest and most blissful way I have ever seen. He starts giggling in a low voice that is very quiet and simple. Slowly it grows a little louder as he breathes in and makes a really funny noise in his throat. His voice cracks, causing him to laugh and sigh; he now partially bellows, partly squeaks the cause of his laughter. He snorts and he again repeats the line that makes him so ecstatic. His laugh makes us all snicker and watch him in amusement. If the world laughed as spirited and as often as Nicholas does, then there would not be enough tears to naturally wash our eyes. If only that was the world’s problem.
… Would make a good quarterback. Now my not-so-little brother has decided that it would be fun to tackle his older sister down to the couch. I go to hug him in the morning and somehow I end up on the couch! He is at least 40 pounds heavier than me and inches taller. I am not a morning person, but I get to wake up to a slam to the couch and a wrestling match, which for the record… I still win.
… Gives amazing hugs. Before the lovely wakeup call of my face to the couch, he gives me this gigantic bear hug. I feel loved and relaxed (at least for the time being), it is one of the things that autism cannot hinder is his love for me, and really, what more do I need? I can’t think of anything more vital.
… Has an outrageous memory. At one point in time, he could name all the presidents in order, the years that they were in office, and their first ladies. He loved American History, specifically the Civil War. So much that we all got quizzed on the way to school multiple times. We even learned that Stonewall Jackson, a southern general, had a cousin nicknamed Mudwall Jackson. In elementary school, instead of looking words up the dreaded dictionary, I would ask Nicholas how to spell it. He got the nickname of Walking Encyclopedia/ Dictionary.
… Is not “mentally retarded” in any way. People would say that in front of me, but I know that the exact opposite is true. The irony is that Nick is smarter than the people that call him names. Interestingly enough, a theory about why autism occurs is basically when two parents with hyperactive minds have a child. It is interesting, because all the kids I know with autism have very smart parents. So instead of the phrase “mentally retarded”, I prefer to say hyper-hyper active minded, or simply, genius.
… Is the ultimate teammate in Disney Trivia Pursuit. Everyone wanted Nicholas on their team because he could repeat the all the lines of almost any Disney movie. He knew almost all the names, characters, scenes, places and pretty much everything you needed to know (and a couple things that you didn’t) about the world of Walt Disney. After playing the game so many times, you also are quite the expert; so much so that if you got a question wrong in the game, you were shunned and considered blind because he watched the same movie for about a month straight.
… Led me to develop one of my passions. I love to help out, especially with younger kids with struggles like Nicholas. I help teach baseball for a Challenger League that my dad helps coach. The kids love to play baseball, but they cannot play in a “typical” league, so this makes the sport available. The kids are amazing, adorable, genuine players. I help them catch the baseball, know where to run, who to throw the ball to and how to swing the bat. It is amazing to watch the players from the beginning of the season, to the end. They improve so much and I love to help them along their path of life, even if it is a small bit. The smile that they have on their face when they catch the ball, run all the way home, or hit the baseball can’t even be described by words, feelings or pictures. The fun that I have chasing the kids around after they finish the game, helping them focus and encouraging them to try again is a experience that I would not get to have with Nicholas or any of the other kids at the game if he was not autistic. I would not be the same person without Nicholas being the way he is.
… got us through the lines at Disney really fast. As simple as this is, it makes less time waiting in lines and more time enjoying Disneyland.
… is now renamed to Hoover. We were drinking hot cocoa as I was writing this, and all you would hear was “gulp, Gulp, Gulp, GULp, GULP, haaaaaaa”; He doesn’t even stop to breathe until he absolutely needs to. He has a full bowl of Crispix for an “appetizer” before he eats breakfeast. At camp he ate four hotdogs in one meal! Everyone says this is a teenage boy thing, but still, we now call him Hoover.
… is more gentle and more affectionate than most of the people that are about his age. He doesn’t judge you at all; he is always himself because he doesn’t care what other people think about him. I remember a time in 6th grade, when my class was walking down the hallway to where Nicholas’ 5th grade class was located. They had drawn superheroes, and cut out their school picture and used it for their face. Nicholas was very enthusiastic about the project and chose to make his super hero Mr. Incredible. He even made the evil robot that he fought in the movie. Two guys in my class decided to make fun of his drawing. I yelled at them in the hallway, quite plainly and loudly some not so kind words, which I now realize was not the best reaction. My teacher would have punished me, but I explained the situation and it turns out she had a daughter with special needs. Later that day, I realized that the important thing was Nicholas wasn’t like that, he was more compassionate and more intelligent than both of them combined, and that was what matters to me.
Paige, age 15