My younger brother, Jake, is 12 years old. He has an uncommon syndrome called Optiz syndrome. It is a form of high functioning autism.
Let me tell you about Jake. He’s almost thirteen, but his mind has developed only to around the age of eight. He goes to junior high but is in a special education class because he doesn’t learn as quickly as others. He loves to read and enjoys Legos. He can make amazing trucks and trailers out of those small blocks I could never dream of building. Legos are his best friends. Jake also enjoys playing with his siblings. He is always so kind to my siblings and me no matter what. One of his favorite things to do is to pass the sacrament at our church. Every week he makes sure he looks nice enough, he smiles at everyone he passes it to, and takes it seriously.
The thing I enjoy most about my brother is that he is always happy and friendly. Jake has never disliked anyone. He is always smiling and energetic. He’ll talk to anyone he meets and it always makes their day. There is a light in my little brother that I haven’t seen in anyone else. He is truly the most Christlike person I have ever met.
Sometimes my brother gets teased because he is different. It brings me to tears to see him bullied and picked on and he doesn’t even know it. People throughout his life have manipulated him into doing things he shouldn’t do. They take advantage because he doesn’t know any better. Every time my brother is bullied, I always wonder: What do you have against him? He is the sweetest person you could ever meet. I know for a fact that he is one of God’s most prized children. I believe that no matter what he does, he is going straight to Heaven. He, and other children like him, hold no grudges, they are never rude and usually have smiles on their faces.
The Savior has commanded us to be kind to ALL of our brothers and sisters. We have also been commanded to not judge other people. President Monson said, “True love can alter human lives and change human nature. I plead with you to have the courage to refrain from judging and criticizing those around you. As well as the courage to make certain everyone is included and everyone feels loved and valued.” There are going to be people we meet that may act different or look different; but if we just showed them love, our lives would be happier.
A few weeks ago I found a quote I have grown to love. It says, “When you judge someone based on a diagnosis you miss out on their abilities, beauty and uniqueness.” I find it sad people are so focused on the bad that they forget the good. Yes, some people may look different, but they are equally as beautiful and unique. The Lord has given all of us things that make us different. Kids like my brother may be more obviously different, but I’m grateful for it.
Through the years, I’ve meet more and more kids like Jake who inspire me–give me hope that everything is okay and who help me remain strong. When I’m having a bad day, all I have to say to Jake is, “I need a hug.” He’ll always ask me, “A big one or a soft one?” Jake is always there for me. He is the best comforter and he knows how to make my day bright. Jake always holds up the “I Love You” sign, and I smile every single time. Jake is the cutest and most genuine kid I know. He’s not only my brother, but my best friend. I will always be there for him. And even though he’s different, I cant imagine loving anyone more than I love him.