My Brother and Autism

Catherine Aviles, Utah, USA

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    One day when I was seven years old, my family and I went to the park. My mother pulled me aside and told me she needed to tell me something important. She told me that my brother Pedro had autism. She explained that it was a condition that would affect his thinking and his ability to communicate. She asked if I understood. I nodded, but really I didn’t know what she meant. Then she asked me to help watch over him as his older sister. That of course, I did understand. I had been doing it all along.

    Being Pedro’s sister has been a blessing for me. He helps all of us be better. He wakes up our family in the morning and gathers us for family prayer and reminds us about family home evening. He is a great example of keeping the Sabbath, and it always makes me smile to hear him encourage us not to do certain things by saying, “No, today is Sunday.” If only we all understood the important things as well as Pedro does.

    I remember when he was ordained a deacon. It was a very spiritual experience for our whole family; we felt the Spirit so strongly.

    I know that even though my brother has autism, he is very special. I know that Heavenly Father loves Pedro and sees him in ways that others don’t. Sometimes people call Pedro retarded as an insult, but perhaps they don’t understand what they’re doing. They don’t understand how frustrated he gets when he does not comprehend something. They don’t see how much he understands with his heart. They aren’t there to observe him offering hugs to friends and family or greeting people he does not know. They don’t see his ability to notice nearly everything or his capacity to make our family laugh.

    I know the Lord put him in our family for a reason. Pedro reminds us of the powerful admonition in Matthew 18:3: “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”