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What This 8 Year Old with Autism Wants To Do for her Disabled Brother

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

We are very blessed that not only is our local park just around the corner, but it has also recently been rebuilt so both children gain so much from it.

There are of course lots of things they are unable to access like the zip slide and spiders web as they both have additional support needs but they enjoy an accessible roundabout, a large see-saw, some rocking and spinning equipment for younger children and of course a slide.

They are happy.

Or so I thought.

This morning I was walking my daughter to school and she was talking to her friend about the park.

She was telling her about the slide and the see-saw and the roundabout. But then she paused and sighed.

"There's something missing", she said to her friend with sorrow in her eyes, “I wish there was a swing for my brother. He is too big for the baby ones and can't do the normal ones and I saw him look at me on the swing and I know he loves it too."

"I want to buy him a swing for that park"

And at that she began thinking of fundraising ideas in order to make our public park more accessible for her brother with complex needs.

She asked me to get a picture of the swing he needs and prices.

At 8 years old and having autism herself she is so serious about this.

With two baby swings, four traditional flat seat swings and a basket swing already in the park she just cannot understand why there is not one like this for her brother...

She is right.

We pay lip service at times to inclusion.

We put token things in place like a wheelchair roundabout and feel we can tick the box to say we are 'accessible'.

But what if what that isn't actually what disabled people really want?

I need to sit down with my 8 year old tonight and explain that even if she fundraises for a swing there is no guarantee it could go in the park. That will be hard for her to understand.

She wants her brother to be able to access everything she can and she is right.

I don't want to change that determination or thoughtfulness and I am proud of her for caring.

I had plans to take the kids back to the park tonight.

I thought it was a great place for them but my 8 year old daughter with autism has taught me to look at things differently.

As I will push her in the swing tonight watching her brother flapping and laughing I will realise that sadly so much in life will never be accessible to him.

Yet, I also know that his sister will do everything she can in life to help change that.

That is the power of sibling love.

Actually you know what...let's make this happen...I am going to encourage her to fundraise AND in the meantime I am off to contact everyone I can to change this.

If an 8 year old wants to change the world for her brother...I should be helping her.

It's too easy for me as an adult to become cynical and think nothing will change.

I have battled so much for my son and almost get to the point of accepting little because that is all I get used to getting.

My daughter is right though. Her brother loves a swing and why should he not have one!

My 8 year old wants to change things and I am going to help her achieve that.

Watch this space!


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