Life is beautiful, and it's amazing how things really do come full circle. A few months ago I worked on set of the new, upcoming Netflix show ‘Atypical.’ I wrote a blog post on it all the way back in January that you can read here.
Being home, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my little brother. As I mentioned in the post from January, he was having a tough time in middle school. I didn’t go into too much detail in that previous piece because I wrote it while on set, but I did mention that kids picked on him because of his differences.
My little brother has Autism, and a lot of people don’t fully understand what that means for him or for others on the Spectrum. When he showed up on our doorstep with my two other siblings, I also didn’t have as much knowledge on the subject as I do now. That’s why I am so appreciative of shows like ‘Atypical’ or ‘Parenthood,’ which have very real depictions of characters on the spectrum.
When I look at my little brother, I don’t see a kid with Autism. I see a little boy who is incredibly intelligent, kind, loving, and handsome and who is so much better at video games than I could ever dream to be (and whose mastery of history is really impressive).
I see a little boy who didn’t have the easiest start in life in foster care but ended up with a family who loves the hell out of him and whose biological parents have really started to get their lives together, opening the door for a better relationship.
I see a little boy who - to this day - talks about the time I took him to New York City for his birthday in great detail (even though it was 5 years ago).
I see a little boy who got mercilessly bullied in his middle school but didn’t bully back. He got shoved into lockers, punched, kicked, and told to go kill himself. And yet, he never retaliated because he would never hurt a fly. He would always just ask what he’d done to deserve that sort of treatment.
And the answer is nothing. He didn’t do anything to deserve that kind of torture. I pulled him aside when I was home over Christmas and tried to explain why, I thought, the other kids might be being mean to him—
Hurt people hurt people.
The oppressed often become the worst oppressors. That’s it. It didn’t have anything to do with anything my little brother had actually done; it probably had to do with differences out of his control but never anything malicious. People who are hurting hurt other people in order to feel better about themselves and to lessen their own pain. In this context, it was bullies at school, so I explained to my little brother that although the kids bullying him were in the wrong, he should work twice as hard to be nice to them because they must be learning that behavior from somewhere. If you can only control yourself, your words, and your actions, make them kind ones. Hurting other people won't actually make you feel better.
My little brother gets to go to a new school this year that has a curriculum specifically structured for kids like him. I went with him to visit while I was home to see if it was a good fit and a place he might want to go, and next thing I knew, I was crying. I held it together in front of him because I would never want him to think they were tears of sadness, but I couldn’t help myself at the sense of relief I felt. They were truly tears of joy.
My little brother has been tortured for the better part of the past two years at his middle school, but now he gets to go somewhere loving and accepting where people understand him.
He’s going to have a community where others will love and accept him for who he is, and it is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It’s been a long time coming for him, and I am just so happy and so relieved.
That’s all anyone wants, right? To be loved, understood, and accepted for who they are? If i had a nickel for every time I say “human beings crave community and connection,” I’d probably have like at least a dollar. Seeing a place tailor-made for my brother where he can just be himself, I realized that it’s going to be such a beautiful healing process for him. Time and love heal everything, and his time is now. I’m so excited to hear all about his new friendships and adventures in such a loving atmosphere.
Thank you so much for reading, and, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further with me, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so grateful you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really challenging questions and even better feedback from a community all over the world. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! I’m here for you, and I love hearing from you, too! You’re the best, and you have everything you need inside of you! Please believe it! Starve your ego, feed your soul - and follow your heart!