April is World Autism month. In honor of this month, I will be focusing on my baby brother Alan, Jr. who has autism. I write this for awareness and understanding of people with autism.
Recently Alan and I lunched together and had a mini interview. I asked if I can write about him on my blog.
“Autism doesn’t define me. It is a part of me but not me.” – Alan.
He says he doesn’t really like to talk about his autism.
“What do you want the world to know about Autism?” I asked.
“It’s more neurological than mental. Everyone is different with it. Some is more extreme than others.” Alan answered.
Alan is a 6’3” gentle giant. He graduated from a culinary school. For the past 12 years he lives in his own apartment. He drives. Is always employed in the food service industry, usually as a cook. And still searching for that special woman (yes, he does date!)
He loves playing video games, watching tv, music and going to museums. I remember when he got the Nintendo game console. He was too excited!
He likes sports and lifting weights. The young Alan used to play baseball. Frist t-ball then regular hard ball. He collects baseball cards. Alan could tell you every statistic for each player.
He is a hard core fan of WWE (World Wresting Entertainment). Alan attends the Arnold Classic almost every year in Columbus, OH. He loves to share those stories.
Alan’s memory is phenomenal. He is also a talented artist who likes being by himself at times.
He is part of an autism group that meets throughout the month. Alan meets them usually once a month because of his busy work schedule. They talk, bowl, BBQ, have fun and support each other. People with autism still need to be in relationship with others. God created us that way to help each other thrive and survive in this world.
Alan lives life to the fullest.
According to AutismSpeaks.org: Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
Alan’s autism is characterized by his loud speech, repetitive conversations revolving around his interests, inability to fully read social cues and facial expressions. He reminds me of being a perpetual teen.
Autism is usually not a disorder that is seen visually. If my brother was in a group of people and you had to choose who has autism, it would be a challenge to pick out the correct person.
God has a reason for everything and a purpose for everyone. It is up to us to understand and be considerate of that fact. Growing up with my brother makes me see the intrinsic value that everyone has. The beauty of God’s precious creations.
Let’s be aware of whom we meet. Mindful, understanding and considerate of their disorders, abilities and disabilities. We never know who we might be in the presence of:
“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:1-2 NLT
As Christians we are called to live by the Spirit all the time. Bearing fruit to everyone we meet so they can experience God’s goodness, too.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
I know it’s not easy. I can sometimes be short and impatient with my brother. I step outside of myself mindful of my actions. I open up to the Spirit letting Him fill me with His love for others. This love pours out to Alan and others I meet with words and actions. Thank you, Jesus for your grace and mercy.
How is the Spirit moving you in your interaction with others?
Thank you for reading! Alan granted me permission to write about him. I didn’t want to post anything without his permission. For more information on autism go to www.AutismSpeaks.org. I love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences with autism.
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Christina Leeman MPH, writer and health educator, emboldens women to be the She Who Honors God with her all - body, thoughts, words, actions.
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