In 2003, my younger brother Taylor was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a disorder that causes him to think and grow differently. In addition, he always feels hungry even after eating a full meal, so food can potentially be dangerous to him. In 2011, my family adopted a girl named Lizzie who also has Prader-Willi. Living with Taylor and Lizzie has taught me some interesting and important things that have helped develop me into who I am.
1. Patience is very important.
One of the most important things I have learned from my siblings is how to be patient. A lot of times they may not follow directions, simply because they can't understand it. So I had to learn to not get mad quickly but understand them instead. Patience is important because is the essence of peace and happiness, so the more patient you can be the smoother your life will go.
2. Making interesting connections between unrelated topics is an art.
Taylor can make some really random and interesting connections. For example, when ever he disagrees on something and realizes he's wrong, he'll start repeating his point and then afterwards say, "I'm Elf!" Just about everyone is confused about it but I figured out that he's referencing the movie "Elf" by taking on Buddy The Elf's rhetorical tactics of repetition. Extremely creative connections like this is what sets Taylor's humor apart from anyone else's.
3. Sports are cooler than I thought.
Taylor consults with the umpires and coaches after a bad call on the field.
Andrea Curtis Warren / Facebook
I have never been much of a sports fan but Taylor knows pretty much every major league sports player. And when I say he knows them, I mean he gives them a bro hug when he sees them. One of our family friends plays for the Minnesota Vikings, and whenever he is home Taylor will ask if he can visit. Meanwhile, The manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clint Hurdle, invites Taylor to come to the game because his daughter also has Prader-Willi Syndrome.
We love taking Taylor to sports games cause he gets really involved and he will have us get there early so he can sit on the sideline and talk to the players when they warm up. Then the day after, we'll go outside and reenact his favorite moments from the game in our backyard. He usually beats me even when I try really hard!
4. Little things can make the difference.
Many people don't think about the small things they do, but Lizzie is very good at noticing and keeping track of every little thing you do. I have learned from her that small things can make the difference and that doing small things will help make other people happy. When she was learning to write she would write "I LoVE SAmMMy" and leave it outside my door. Even though it was a piece of paper with barely legible writing it always made my day.
5. But if they don't work out it's okay.
Even though small things make a difference they will not cause the world to end though it may seem like it. While some small things like who gets to feed the dog may cause an argument between siblings it always works out in the end. Like my Mom says and my sister repeats, "Sometimes you just have to be flexible!"
6. Different people have different needs.
It's something you may not consider, but people that aren't you may have different needs. It is important because if you do not think about other people's needs when interacting with them you actions may cause tension, frustration and miscommunication. Remember that everyone thinks differently so make sure to treat them accordingly.
7. Being hungry make people unhappy.
Being hangry is a real thing and you don't realize how much it can affect your mood until you live with people that get hungrier faster than you. But that being said I am glad to be able to solve most problems in my family with just a hot dog or a snack bag!
8. Anything is possible for anyone
It doesn't matter what you have been through, what you're going through or what sets you back, if you put your mind to it you can be just as good as the rest. Taylor and Lizzie may have mental and physical disabilities but that does not stop them from doing incredible things. Taylor is the all-star sports star of the local special needs sports team, and Lizzie is an amazing caretaker, horseback rider and swimmer. I am very proud of the things my siblings have accomplished and cannot wait to see what else they do in the future!
Bob Warren / Facebook