My brother Tim is autistic. When we were little girls, the term "autism" was not in use as it is today, in fact most professionals knew so little about it that they often blamed the parents for the condition of the child. Many parents don't know the cause of their child's autism, but my mother knows exactly what happened to her firstborn son. An induced labor left her unable to breathe and her newborn son with brain damage.
Mom and Dad never hid Tim away or pretended he didn't exist. They kept him home for as long as they were able and, when circumstances made it necessary to find him a new home, they searched diligently for the best place. In the 1960's there weren't many options and Tim eventually ended up being placed in the State School. Every other Sunday we took a forty-five minute drive to Newark, NY and took Tim out for a ride to get a hamburger and a milk shake.
The State School has now been shut down and most of its residents live in smaller group homes of 10-12 residents. It is a far cry from the institutional setting where they once spent their days. I don't see my brother often, but since my father's passing, Rachel has taken up the task of taking Mom to visit Tim and go out for a drive to Wendy's each week where they buy a few Frosties and enjoy some time together.
Today was the annual Christmas Tea at the house where Tim lives. We missed Dad with his banjo and harmonica, playing and singing Christmas carols, but it was a good time anyway. And all three sisters were able to be there along with Mom and Aunt Margie.
(Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time each week to show your love, not only for Mom and Tim, but for Dad as well. We all know it would mean the world to him. I think he's smiling now.)
14 hours ago