Walk a Mile in Autism

A poem for my 16-year-old brother with autism:

Neil Kurshan said, “Walk a mile in my shoes is good advice. Our children will learn to respect others if they are used to imagining themselves in another’s place”.
But Mom, people cannot put themselves in my shoes, not unless they live it too.
Friends and classmates use the words ‘weird’ and ‘autistic’ as if they’re the same.
It hurts my heart and I want to get angry, but I continue to smile anyway.
But I’m tired of smiling and I’m tired of changing the subject.
So, I started to advocate, and I started to educate.
Because this boy, my best friend, my brother, he deserves so much more.
More than classmates who label, more than strangers who stare, and more than family members who just do not understand.
He deserves classmates, family, friends, and even absolute strangers who will not stop to stare but stop to admire.
Admire not just how incredibly smart he is, but the way that he can make anyone, and everyone smile.
That is why I wish, Mom, that they could walk in my shoes.
This way they could see him like I do.
They could see that even though he cannot often empathize, he has the biggest heart.
They could see that although autism is stigmatized with special education, he is excelling in all subjects and was able to help me with college-level math at the age of 15.
They could see why, out of everyone in the world, he is my best and closest friend.
This is why I want people to be educated about autism.
Because although he doesn’t see it, and may never will, my brother is the best person I know.

———-

My name is Chloe Kendall, and I have a 16-year-old brother with high functioning autism spectrum disorder. As my brother and I got older, we grew a strong friendship and connection. He is not only my sibling, but also my closest friend.

Throughout the years I have come across endless individuals misusing the words ‘autism’, ‘the R word’, and weird as if they were all synonyms. This not only hurt my heart as an autism sibling, but also as a future educator. I have struggled to find out how I could put my words and experiences out there for people to see.

I not only want them to learn but to understand, laugh, smile, and cry. This way more people around the world could see not only the affect that their words have but also the joyous things that they are blind to. I want to share my experiences in hopes to reach people, who wouldn’t otherwise know, and educate them. Maybe they will walk away with a different or better perspective than they had before.

During my poetry unit of creative writing this semester in college, the students were asked to write a poem about something that they were passionate about and later read that poem aloud for the class.

At first, I was stumped by this assignment. What was something that I could write about passionately? Or, more likely, how could I choose just one subject that stood above all others?

A couple days went by and a totally unrelated issue arose. I had a conversation with my mom about it in hopes she could give me wise words of advice and ease my frustration. Little did I know, it would spark the idea for my poem.

Among finishing the poem, I was not sure that it was something that I wanted to share with my class. This was something very personal and made me feel vulnerable.

However, after sharing it with my mom for the first time and sharing a tear-filled moment together, I knew that it was the poem I had to submit and something I needed to share with not only my class, but others as well.

Written by, Chloe Kendall

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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