It makes sense why I talk about Joshua all the time here on the Orange Effect Foundation blog. After all, he is the reason the foundation even exists. If you need some quick background, check out this post.
Rarely however do I talk about Adam. That’s a shame because he played such an integral role in Joshua’s success. Additionally, he’s a really cool kid.
Joshua is older than Adam by 19 months. Because we held Joshua back for school they are only one school year apart. They are best friends. Honestly. I can’t think of one time that they fought with each other. I watch old home movies and it is all love and sharing. It sounds crazy, right? A huge part of the reason they didn’t fight as toddlers is because of Joshua’s demeanor that I attribute to his autism. Adam would want a turn with a toy. Joshua didn’t have the social skills to do anything about it, so he would just move on to the next thing. Joshua would always stop what he was doing to help Adam. Joshua (even to this day) cared and worked hard to make sure Adam was happy.
Adam hit every milestone like clockwork. Sat on his own at six months. Stood at ten months. Walked at 12 months. First words by 12 months. It is actually part of what helped us recognize that Joshua was delayed. As first time parents, we would constantly tell people that Joshua wasn’t talking yet because we gave him everything he needed without even having to ask. Seeing Adam naturally progress was an additional piece to the inner voice telling us that something was different about Joshua.
Adam didn’t even know it, but he taught Joshua SO much. Before we even had a diagnosis for Joshua, Adam was teaching him things. While Joshua had no interest in other children, Adam was top on the inquisitive side. Joshua would watch from the sidelines and observe a “typical” child in action.
Adam would ask for the most important things in life, like snacks and whatever movie he wanted to watch. Joshua would patiently observe this behavior and even though he didn’t have the vocabulary yet, would start to mimic the actions and facial expressions of his brother. I tell people often that Adam is a huge part of Joshua’s success.
Just this past week Joshua and Adam moved to separate bedrooms. For the first 17 years of Adam’s life (and 18 of Joshua’s) they had shared a bedroom. It was interesting because I thought Adam would want some newfound independence, but he was actually a bit sad the first few days and even told his grandparents it was a little lonely.
What else is amazing about Adam is that he is extremely accepting of anyone. He can find the good in everyone and often challenges me, his mom, when I am being judgy or only have one side of a story.
While it’s clear that Adam taught his brother so much, the reverse is also true. Joshua has taught Adam compassion, perspective, patience, and selflessness. While not all special needs children are fortunate to have siblings, I can attest to the importance of having “typical” peers in the presence of a special needs child. Maybe even MORE importantly, the importance of having a special needs child in a typical child’s life.