The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

24 October 2012

The Story I Don’t Want To Tell

By Cheska Managbanag, 11 years old, ASP Ormoc

When I was a toddler, I used to ask my parents every night before I go to bed when will be the day I can cuddle my little brother. Why ? I had this funny feeling that I was so alone and lonely then because I don’t have a playmate as what most of my classmates and friends have. Mommy always told me to wait but I was so persistent.

Exactly six years and ten months ago, a cute and bubbly, healthy baby boy came to our lives. I felt I was the happiest sister in the whole world, that I waited until wee hours in the morning just to be the first one to catch a glimpse of my brother. Yes, I was already an Ate! My heart screamed with so much joy. I will have someone to camp with me whenever my family would go out for a picnic or a simple family bonding. I would have someone to care of and protect. He will be my best friend and bodyguard from bullies. When my baby brother cooed and uttered his first syllables, I was ecstatic. It was music to my ears.

But life is not always a bed of roses .The biggest blow came to us when 30 months after, Lorenzo was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). It was vague to me at first. ASD? What’s that? Is it contagious? Is it like the big C? I was so confused. I couldn’t communicate with Lorenzo. He can’t even look at me whenever I tried to hug him. He’s so touchy. It took me a little while before all the unusual things my brother does began to sink in. Lorenzo, at first sight, is a typical hyperactive kid. Good-looking with smiling eyes especially when he suddenly burst into a hearty laugh. But he is a Child With Autism. And CWAs have peculiar characteristics and have special needs.

I was devastated. Everyone was!

At home and in school, it's always Lorenzo’s situation that concerns almost everyone in the family. Mommy is working terribly harder because of him. She left us for months for trainings in special education and juggles two part time jobs all because of Lorenzo. Daddy, on the other hand, works double time and is so engrossed with autism advocacies that oftentimes, he forgets the fact that they still have two other “normal” kids.

Yeeaah... I know I shouldn’t even have thoughts and feelings like these but I’m just human. The pressure and emotional tension, not to mention the high expectations of my parents on me towards my brother, is taking a toll on me, too. I’m still a kid. I also wanted to enjoy my childhood while I still can. Lorenzo is austistic! That’s it! No wonder he usually gets most of my parents’ attention and care next to Andre, our youngest. That’s why he always gets the first “pasalubong“, the first glass of milk, the first pack of cookies... and all other firsts! I hated it.

But when my mom and dad started to bring me to Lorenzo’s therapies and advocacy trainings with teachers in all the six central schools in Ormoc, it slowly dawned on me. It’s not just part of their job that they are doing it; but it’s their strong commitment to raise awareness to all families with special children that really caught me off-guard. There had been countless trials and challenges in our family in the past; but not once did I ever witness my parents question God about all these. Not once did I see them quiver in their faith. And I asked myself, why am I having these evil thoughts towards my brother? What if I was the special child and not him? Will he think of me as such also? Will he hate me too?

Lorenzo is just like me, only he is special. But I love him so much. I would rather feel and experience pain than to see my brother feel it. He is non-verbal, so he could hardly express himself. It may seem difficult to watch a special child; but it is so easy and endearing to love one. In spite of the fact that he could not possibly work at the same pace like regular kids or has equal chances of success as we chase our childhood dreams. For me, Lorenzo will always be the brother I dreamed him to be.

Everything happens for a purpose. For me, God made Lorenzo special because he is an angel brought from heaven to make our lives’ happier and more meaningful than ever. He gave him to us because He knows that we can go through it with flying colors. Now, a day for me isn’t called a day without seeing my brother’s smile. And after a lot of good and not-so-good things that had happened, I am glad Lorenzo is special. After all, WE ARE ALL SPECIAL!


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