Yesterday afternoon I stood in the playground waiting for Billy.
My friend who is a TA and whose son is one of Billy’s best friends came up to me wanting to show me a picture she had taken of Billy, her son and their other close friend with an autism aware bear that Billy had taken in to school.
I knew Billy was taking a bear in to class, he’d asked me if he could but I didn’t quite expect what I was told.
Before long we’d been joined by Billy’s TA from last year, his teacher from last year and his teacher from this year.
They went on to explain to me that Billy hadn’t just taken an autism aware bear in to school. He’d done so much more. He had stood up in assembly and told the whole school all about them and about autism. He told them what the bears are all about and why we do what we do. When the head teacher asked children to raise their hand if they knew about autism, the whole of Billy’s class put their hands up. Billy has always told them all about his sister and about her autism diagnosis. He’s stood up in class before now aged just seven and answered their questions about his sister.
They know about autism because of him.
The autism aware bear that Billy took in to school is now ‘Spotty’ the class bear, it will go home with worker of the week each Friday and will help the children learn all about autism and difference.
After Billy’s very brave talk in assembly we’ve had more teachers request bears which just blows me away.
Billy’s teachers told me they think he’s amazing, that Isla is lucky to have such an amazing big brother, they know how special he is even if he doesn’t know himself.
On the way home I told him how very proud I was, how Isla is so very blessed in the brother department and how special he is. He turned and said to me ‘I don’t care about that Mum, I care about other people’.
A nine year old boy has taught more people about autism than most people could ever wish to.
Billy didn’t tell his whole school about autism because he had to, he did so because he wanted to. He wanted to tell everybody about his sister, he wanted to tell them she’s different but not less, he wanted to show them autism isn’t a bad thing, he wanted to explain it to them so they’d understand Isla better, he told them because he wants people to love her for who she is, he told them because of the pure, unconditional love he has for his little sister.
It’s not easy having an autistic sibling but he takes it all in his stride. He’s the most incredible advocate. He doesn’t complain, he adores his sister and their bond is something that is so beautiful I simply don’t have the words to describe it.
Not only is he Islas best friend, he’s her hero and the most amazing son we could wish for.
I never anticipated how involved Billy would become on our mission to raise autism awareness. I just wish he could see how special he is.
He wants to change the world for his sister and children like her and I think he just might do that, if he can do all that he does at just 9 years of age, as an adult he will move mountains.