Although at my mother's house all three of her children suffer from different neurological disorders, we have never seen each other as different. We have always treated each other the way "normal" families would. Our methods of handling situations may have been a little strange at times, but we always managed. My youngest brother has Autism. His story far surpasses that of my other brother and my own. Mason is a 16-year-old lively soul. He always has something to talk about, whether it is his love for music or my new puppy, Gypsie. Mason is my best friend, and I believe that his story deserves to be told.
For all of my friends and family, Mason is the person that everybody loves, so we do not see him as any different from the rest of us. We were always taught to treat him the same as we would each other. My friends have always been accepting of him and all the things that come along with his disability. To anybody that wasn't extremely close with him or our family, Mason and his behaviors might seem a bit odd.
When Mason was around 18 months old, my mother started noticing that Mason had some differences from other children. His speech started to regress, he started only eating select foods (hotdogs, peanut butter sandwiches, chips, chicken nuggets, and cereal), he started to become obsessed with objects and Thomas the Tank Engine, and he had difficulties with telling us the things he wanted or needed. My mother, being the overbearing mother she is, took note of these issues and reported them to our family doctor. Although our doctor told my mother to relax and said that all the things Mason was experiencing were because he was the third child, my mother was unconvinced, and she started her long journey of finding out the reason Mason was having such a hard time at a year and a half.
At three years old, Mason was still having all of these problems. He did not speak very well. He spoke gibberish, using maybe a handful of actual words a day. We always said he had his own language because we usually were able to figure out what he was saying. At this time he had a speech and hearing test and they concluded that he needed speech therapy. He went every other week, and by the second session the therapists asked if they could evaluate Mason. My mom, of course, said yes. The conclusion of the evaluation came in my mother's favor. They had come to the official conclusion that Mason was autistic. My mom cried out of relief. The relief being that somebody finally believed that something was wrong and now she had the building blocks to get some occupational and speech therapy started. At first, we were told that Mason would not be able to do a lot of things that "normal" children could do, like play sports, but he defied the odds the doctors put against him. He played flag football for one year.
Last year was a rough year for my baby brother. He is at the age where young men start their journey through puberty. When you have autism, you experience puberty quite differently than any other young man going through this stage in life. HIs body experienced the changing hormones differently and caused him to have extreme rage. Sometimes he had violent outbursts, usually causing him to get physically violent. He did not understand what was happening and why he was reacting like this. My mother took him to the University of Iowa Hospital and they got him all straightened out. He was put on a different set of medicine to help control his anger and now has no problems controlling his anger.
Recently Mason turned 14 and he bought a violin. He has come so far in his life. Together, as a family we have seen him go from not talking to being very grammatically accelerated. He has given all of us a new view on life that without him, we would have never gotten. He has given me so many things, patience being a big one. And he is the best gift any one family could ever receive.