Not Selfish

Buddy adores his sister, Lily. He always has. He somehow knew I was pregnant before I did. I was doing anything I could to encourage his vocabulary, and I was trying to get him to learn parts of the body. I pointed to my belly and said, “belly.” He looked at it and said, “baby.” I tried correcting him, but he kept insisting. I smiled at him and went to tell him such a thing wasn’t possible, when I realized… I hadn’t had my period. In fact, I was a week overdue. A test confirmed it; I was pregnant with Lily. I have no idea how he knew.

Since then, the two have been inseparable. They do everything together. Even when I was holding her, he would try to get my attention to the fact that she was crying, and I needed to fix it. When he steals food, he sneaks her some. (I wish I could get him to understand that chocolate makes her sick!) When she needs blood drawn, I have to physically restrain him, or he attacks the doctors. When she was too small to climb, he would try to pick her up and help her. When he’s not in his own little world, his revolves around her.

I firmly believe that religious or not, everyone should take at least one day and set it aside to rest. I do no work that day, including cooking. Breakfast is doughnuts. This past Sunday, I set them on the table and gave one to each child, and told them that there was one more each if they wanted them. My bowels let me know they needed to empty now, so I rushed toward the bathroom to relieve myself. I eventually heard cries, so I tried to keep things inside and went back out. Lily is sobbing, her poor little heart broken. Buddy had decided that he wanted more than just one more doughnut, so he ate hers, too.

“Buddy ate my doughnut!” she cries, looking at me with all the expectation that Mama can make it better. I go and find Buddy.

“Buddy, did you eat Karen’s doughnut?”

“Yes.”

“Why? That was Karen’s doughnut.”

“But I was hungry.”

That, right there, sums up the way he thinks. Someone recently told me that Asperger’s is just a way for selfishness to be accepted. It hurt to hear. Buddy loves his sister. His thinking was simply, “I am hungry. I see food. I’ll eat the food and not be hungry.” That’s it. It wasn’t like he thought, “I know Lily wants her doughnut, but I’m hungry, so I’ll take it and she can deal.”

This is where people cannot seem to understand autism. He is not intentionally selfish; it just doesn’t occur to him to think of others. Does he? Yes, sometimes, as I stated, he sneaks his sister snacks. Sometimes, he’ll ask her if she wants to watch a movie, and then he’ll put it in for her. (Don’t I get a say in if it’s movie time or not?) To hear that it’s “bad parenting” or “a spoiled child” shows how much more understand and acceptance autism needs. We don’t need awareness; we need education. We don’t need judgements; we need patience. Buddy is one of the most loving people I know; he can’t help but focus on his own needs, sometimes. Hopefully, with work and time, he will get better about it. I’ll keep you posted.

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