Jane Springer is the grandmother of twins, one of whom has autism. The post below is a letter from Jane to her granddaughter, Harper, whose twin brother Granger has autism. Jane is a certified life and wellness coach who helps parents and grandparents of children on the autism spectrum. For more from Jane, check out her website here.
I am writing this to you so that you will know how very important you are to me and how much I have loved you since you were in your mama’s belly with your brother. Someday when I am no longer here, you will read this and know how special you are to me. First, I would like you to know how sorry I am for the times when I could not give you the attention you deserved and needed, because I had to attend to your brother. You are just as important to me as Granger is and you have been very patient with me in your six short years. From the time I saw you on the sonogram machine (again, with your brother) I have looked forward to getting to know you and spending time with you. We did not know at that time how much extra time and attention Granger would need.
Second, I have enjoyed every second of being with you, from the time you were swaddled up like a burrito as a baby, to rocking you to sleep and singing “Tender Shepherd” to you as a toddler, to watching you perform in plays at your preschool – even our shopping expeditions to the mall to buy your mommy some birthday presents. Over the years there have been times when you had little snits or exhibited all-out rebellion, but I loved you even then. I suspect much of the attitudes you displayed were because we were always having to watch what your brother was doing or not doing. We are so proud of all your accomplishments, like in your art work, your singing, your acting and your schoolwork. We admire your love of animals, real and stuffed.
Third, I want to commend you on your patience and tolerance of your brother and his idiosyncrasies. I know that at times you have been embarrassed or angry about things he has done in public. I know you have probably wanted him to be a ”normal” brother who would play with you like a typical brother would do. Thankfully, you have had lots of cousins and friends to fill in the gaps in that department. You have tolerated too many rides on elevators to count, just to go along with your brother’s preoccupation with elevators. You have cheered him on in horse shows and put up with his hair-pulling or bites when he was younger and almost never retaliated, knowing you are bigger and stronger than him.
I know it is hard to understand at your age why he is the way he is, but someday, when you are older, it will be much clearer. Meanwhile, just do the best you can, as you already are, of loving him as your quirky brother and we promise to give you more of the time and attention that you need in the future. You are a sweet, lovely and awesome granddaughter and I love you bunches.
Hugs and kisses,
See more blog posts from Jane, including 5 Tips for Grandparents of Children with Autism, here.