I was about five and a half years old when my mom told me she was going to have a baby boy, and I was wondrously excited. The day he was born, though, I didn’t realize that my new baby brother, Collin, was going to change my life, and the way I looked at life, forever.
On October 7, 1996, little Collin was born at the Grays Harbor Community Hospital, and when I saw him for the very first time, he looked a little different. I didn’t know if that was normal or not, for I had never seen a real, new born infant up close before. His head was abnormally large, and his lips were a little fat; other than that he looked fine. Mom brought him home a little while later and everything was okay, or so we thought.
As Collin grew older, he didn’t talk like the average two year old does, he just sort of pointed at what he wanted and whined (and that usually happens when one is about one years old, if that). My mother and step dad were very concerned. They took him to the doctor. He wasn’t diagnosed with anything certain, just as being mentally retarded, and we would know what he had when he would be about four years old. Those few years flew by, and they took him to the doctor, and he was diagnosed with autism. When we found this out, it was very stressful, and very hard on all of us, but mainly mom. There was lots of crying and it was just totally depressing, for none of us had ever really had a mentally challenged person in our lives, and we didn’t know how to deal with it. When Collin wanted something, and we didn’t know what it was, he just cried and screamed till we gave him something that would please him. He had hardly any communication skills at all, just a few phrases that he would say now and then, and when he said something very understandable, we would all freak out and get so excited and try to get him to say it over and over again. But of course, this would be too much for him, and he would start crying and yelling for a little while. It sucked.
Right now, Collin is 9 years old, and he is so much better, such as his speech/communication. He talks a lot better, and you can ask him questions and he answers most of them correctly, and he also talks on the phone, but he doesn’t have his manners down yet (he thinks its pretty hilarious to burp for the person on the other line). He also has mild mood swings now, too. They used to be really bad when we tried him on some ADHD pill, but now he just gets a little cranky when you don’t give him enough attention, but everyone’s a little like that, right?
Now, because Collin has autism, it has changed the way I see life for the mentally challenged. You see, I used think that they were weird, and I would avoid them if I could because they were so different from me. It makes me think of a quote from the movie “Cool Runnings,” which is, “We different, people always afraid of what’s different.” And I was a little afraid of the challenged. But once Collin was born, I saw them in a totally different way. I was interested, and they definitely weren’t weird anymore. Later on, my mom got a job at this place called Parent to Parent, and they connect parents with disabled children to each other, and they also have a camp. This camp, the ARC, is for people 13 and up who are challenged. Because I was interested, I got to go to this camp and see the different people, what they had, how they acted, and it was very exciting and made me just smile because all they want is to be treated like normal people, and now I see them the way I see my friends and family. But even though they are special to me, I realize how lucky I am to have no problems with my brain. People don’t look at me like they’ll catch a disease, people don’t freak out if they bump into me, and if I say anything, people acknowledge it. Some of the challenged aren’t so lucky. If only people could learn what disabled ones are really like, the world would be a better place.
When I was five and a half years old, my life was changed. Just one little person can do that for you, and that one little person was my little brother Collin. He made me realize so many different things, and that makes me feel like the luckiest sister on earth.
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