Autism Acceptance Month: A Sibling Bond
There is a certain unspoken bond between siblings – a fierce loyalty and love that knows no bounds. When their mother passed, it was only natural that Jack would assume care of his older brother, Jimmy.
Jimmy faced two immediate hurdles when he was diagnosed with autism at a young age. The stigma of living with an intellectual or developmental disability, as well as severely lacking supports and programs. As his guardian, Jack works with Jimmy to make sure he is living the fullest life possible both at home and in the community.
It is no secret that the pandemic has been incredibly disruptive for day-to-day life, but even more so for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who depend on consistency and routine. Jack noted that the level of care Jimmy has received over the years is incomparable, especially since the onset of the pandemic and initial suspension of our in-person supports.
He mentioned that Jayne Rachier, program manager at Incompass, has gone above and beyond. “Jimmy hasn’t returned to day programs since last March because we’re worried about his health, but Jayne calls every week to check on him.”
After nearly 30 years attending our day programs, it goes without saying that Jimmy has left his mark on staff and peers alike. Prior to the pandemic, you would find him co-leading the morning exercise routine and reviewing the Morning Meeting Board to get familiar with the day’s schedule. There is one activity, however, that Jimmy finds the most solace in. Music.
Music isn’t only a source of comfort but also serves as a tool to build his communication skills. Jimmy has been nonverbal for the majority of his life but gets creative in the ways he expresses himself. If there was ever a special occasion, such as a multicultural celebration or Urban Youth activity, Jimmy would open with the National Anthem. Baseball bingo activities were commemorated with his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.
Health and safety concerns may have halted these experiences, but it certainly hasn’t slowed Jimmy down one bit. He faithfully wakes up his brother each morning to lead his exercise routine at home. We all plan on taking a page out of his book – teamwork makes the dreamwork. Looking forward to having you in the Incompass halls again soon, Jimmy!