This I Believe

Erin - La Grange, Illinois
Entered on October 4, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance
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Tolerating Others

I have a unique family situation that has caused me to abide by different rules and alter my lifestyle completely. My brother has autism /, a disability that causes learning and speech delays, which can often result in hectic and stressful days. Events that are supposed to be calm and relaxing may turn out to be loud and chaotic, leaving the whole entire family frazzled. //~

Individuals with autism, including my brother, have idiosyncrasies and rituals they follow to remain calm. If these are not fulfilled, the person can become upset and extremely anxious about the current situation. A simple family outing to a neighborhood restaurant can become a huge ~ production!/ Often times after Mass on Sundays, my family goes out for breakfast. On one occasion during the ride to the restaurant, my brother began complaining that my father was driving in the left lane. He has mentioned this on car rides before and it drives us insane!/ My dad told him that it is the way to the restaurant, but the best thing we can do is ignore him./ My dad turned left and drove into the parking lot, picking the first available spot, like any driver would typically do. However, when counting the parking spots from the end, it was spot number seven. My brother has an issue with spot number seven. Then he began screaming, with tears rolling down his red, puffy cheeks./ My mother convinced him to come inside. The waitress led us to a booth at the far right and we sat down./ That day it happened that my brother did not like the booth and his anxiety started up again. He began repeating phrases such as “why~ did dad park there?” and “Get in the right lane!” The whole entire time I was listening to this, I admit I felt embarrassed. I am aware of my brother’s issues, but he was causing a ruckus in a public place where people aren’t aware of different challenges we face. In fact, the table to our left was staring at us the entire time. I could only imagine they were thinking what is wrong with that kid? He’s acting like a brat./ This whole scene was upsetting and it bothered me that people were looking judgmentally at my family./

I believe in tolerating differences in people. / Tolerance means accepting an inconvenience and going about your business. I’m sure the people in the restaurant wanted a quieter environment, but the being rude to my family wasn’t~ the best option./ This country has many diverse people and it’s necessary to be able to communicate and get along with others.// Since I have a brother with special needs, I am routinely exposed to unexpected situations, and I recognized the value of tolerance.