Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – Imagination

In Their Own Words – Imagination

This “In Their Own Words” is by Robin Alvarado, who has two children; her younger son has autism.

My three-year-old son was diagnosed with autism in November, 2009. Since then, he has been enrolled in special education preschool, therapies, etc., He was also classified as high-functioning. I must say my son has really come a long way these past eight months.

Although my six-year-old daughter is still young, and knows that her little brother is different than she is, she still views him as just that – her little brother. She is so compassionate with him, as if she is a little mommy. She loves to take care of him and is such a big helper to me.

She will also force him to play with her and interact with her. Not in a mean way, but in a way where he really has no other choice but to pay attention to her. I’m not sure that she understands why it is so difficult, but she still pushes him. Sometimes it will be overwhelming for him and I have to tell her to give him a minute to calm down, or that he needs a break. But she is so persistent. I’m not certain that she even realizes what she’s doing but I believe it is really good for him.

Last week, I was sitting in the living room watching TV and both my son and daughter came in the living room, dressed up in play clothes I have for her. She then introduced them as a prince and princess. I noticed that my son face looked as if he was having fun. He was smiling ear-to-ear. They then went back to her room. A few minutes later, they both walked in pretending they were ninjas. Believe it or not, my son was punching kicking the air, and making sound effects to go with the punches and kicks. He was doing imaginary play. That was huge for me to see. He has never done anything of the sort. EVER!!

I really believe that my daughter forcing him out of his comfort zone is doing him a world of good. If she can get him to participate in imaginary play, what else will she be able to get him to do? Thank God for my daughter.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.


  1. Dilara
    August 27, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I’m a 16 year old sister of an 8 year old brother with autism. I know the feeling that little girl has because i never view my brother as different then everyone else, I just view him as my friend and companion. I treat him normally, I talk to him like i would to talk any of my friends, I play with him, & I respect him. Our bond as siblings is perhaps stronger then those of normal sibling.

  2. Jessica N
    August 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

    My son was also diagnosed in 2009- in may, also high functioning. I love hearing your story about how far along he has come. My son just started his aba therapy and is also doing well. He put a WHOLE puzzle together the other day with no help and I almost cried to see how far he’s come in just a week! I share your joy for your son as I do for mine. Remember- our kids are angels. They don’t speak because god kissed them extra hard so they can’t tell us what heaven is like :)

  3. Nikki
    August 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

    My children are triplets – 2 typical girls and one boy with high functioning ASD – I believe that God gave them to me as triplets for a reason and it has been such a blessing. My girls push my son, they force him to play and I believe that his early diagnosis (at age 2) was due in large part to the fact that I had the ability to watch their development and see the differences form between them. In just a few more days I will put all three of them on the school bus for the first time as they head off to kindergarten, I will cry, but I know that they are heading out into the world as a team.

  4. Nikki
    August 27, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Wow Robin, it’s as if you’re reading a story from my life. I share the same experience. I have a 7 year old daughter & 3 year old high functioning autistic son. My daughter nurtures him in so many ways and he learns a great deal from her. There is something that the older sibling can provide that we, as parents, can not. I always say she is his angel. My son started in a special education program as well. I am noticing subtle progess. Early intervention definitely makes one more hopeful and optimistic. Good luck on your journey!

  5. Amy
    August 27, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I have a 3year old daughter diagnosed with moderate to severe Autism, and a 6 1/2year old son who is a lot like your daughter. He’s always concerned about his sister and when we came home from one of her appointments my son, Angelus said “I know what I have to do for Faith” I said, “What’s that?” His response; “I have to talk to her a lot and play with her a lot or she might get trapped on a land inside her brain.” –this is what he’s taken away from how we’ve tried to explain it all to him. What wonderful children we all have.

  6. christine c guerra
    August 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Amy, your story really touched me, my son Alex is 4yrs old and was diagnosed as high functioning last year. Shortly after my son was diagnosed I became pregnant with our second child, I hate to say this but I stressed my entire pregnancy over whether the new baby would be autistic as well, read all the data studies and researched as much as my heart would let me. I have to tell you though Zoe is a god send, she is able to calm Alex with her smile and he is so good around her, he doesn’t run or jump around her, but she’s now almost 6mths and he will come and sit by us and let her paw at him without pulling away. I can tell he loves his sister and she loves him too, I think that they will only grow closer with time and growth and I thank God everyday for them both.

  7. Dennis S.Anderson
    August 27, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I believe that children learn so much from other children. It changed my 2 step-sons world for the positive when my sons and all there friends treated them just like all the other children, also having 2 big dogs that took thoses 2 boys under thier paws and helped bring them into the mainstream was a true blessing. Local animal shelters have dogs all the time that can help all te time.

  8. Rose
    August 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    We have the reverse, Our 5 yr old ASD son has a 2 1/2 yr old sister who is his best therapist. I tried to have some special time for her & took her to a friends t-ball game, I loved watching her be”normal”. On the way home she asked if her brother could come next time after talking about it I said we would ask him. The next morning she told him all about the kids the game the playset and said mom said you could go next time. He jumped up said shoe sock go, after 10 times and a calander we finaly got him settled down, next week. They went to go play and my daughter came back told me don’t worry mom I’ll watch him those kids are my new best friend but he is my old best friend & brother so I love him most.

  9. Katie wright
    August 27, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    That is a beautiful story- one that I wish was more common.

    When my eldest son started regressing my toddler would get very upset asking why his brother can’t talk anymore. Despite therapy it got worse and my younger son cried when his brother no longer seemed to recognize him. Now my younger son no longer remembers his brother speaking or playing with him- at all

    For many siblings autism is so painful

    When christian’s gut pain is bad his brother cried. I try to get him out of the room as fast as possible but he asks me all the time why we can’t fix the problem.

    • Melissa Cruz-Skaggs
      September 3, 2010 at 8:03 pm


      God Bless You and your Family. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I was having a very isolated feeling kind of day today and realized I have so much. We really do, although your son feels the pain of his brother he also must be so compassionate and tolerant towards others. I have two sons too and there are times I feel so bad for my non-autistic son as it does pain him, although I am so grateful he is in his brother’s life. Keep up the good work, and know that you’re doing a great job!

  10. Kelly R
    August 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I am 18 years old and I have a 16 year old brother with autism. I just left for college yesterday, and reading this made me very emotional because I truly feel like I have left behind not only my little brother, but my best friend. Just like your daughter, I have always tried to get my brother to interact with me. I always make him say “Hello, Kelly” when I see him, and I was the one to teach him to say “please” and “thank you.” Kevin communicates through music a lot by having the person he is interacting with finish the words to a song, and I am a singer, so we share a great bond with our love of music.

    I remember dressing up Kevin when we were little just like your daughter does! That’s absolutely amazing that he started imaginary play.

    I really believe that the bond between special needs children and their “normal” siblings is incredibly strong. It is very hard leaving my brother to go to school, but I am studying to become a special education teacher, so that makes it all worth it. I hope that someday I can start some sort of group for siblings of children with special needs, because I always wanted to meet another kid who was in a similar situation as me.

    I know your son and daughter will continue to have a great relationship! God bless you!

  11. Kris Meier
    August 27, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I am new to this blog, but I am hooked! I have a son that is almost 3 and was diagnosed with Autism about a year ago. We also have a little girl that is almost a year old, I believe she has been so wonderful for our son, pushing him out of his comfort zone like you described. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Jacqueline
    August 28, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I have the opposite situation. My 12 year old son is autistic and my 3 year old daughter is not. Ever since she was born, he has been fascinated with her and has come out of his shell to interact with her. He lets her touch him, HE holds interactions with HER, and has the patience of Job in playing with her. He finally learned all the imaginative play he had missed along with her and all the little songs and games because he wanted to play them with her. The progress he has made in three years has been exponential. I never thought the blessing of our daughter would extend to this area. He is the best big brother ever.

  13. August 28, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    It would be great if people didn’t have to say “high functioning” all the time. My son is 19 and has been called everything, from severe to high functioning, depending on who’s looking at him. It means nothing and it’s mean, the way people who don’t have dissabilities are mean to people who do.

    I need to hear more about people who are not so high functioning. Autism affect speech and socialization. So much of what I read in the Autism Blog is about people who would never be considered Autistic 10 years ago. They have Aspergers if they can talk and others can understand them. This is a problem because if everyone has Autism, or one in 98 people like they talk about here in NJ, and so many are “high functioning”, the people like my son are seen as someone who is too Autistic to be accepted into programs, and too difficult to be placed in a home. We should be very careful about including way too many people onto a spectrum that indludes people in desperate need of services for their entire life time, not just until they are in the second grade. Thank you.

  14. Katie Wright
    August 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Vicky u aren’t alone. I am a Mom of a nonverbal severely and medically affected child. My child can do none of the above activities either.

  15. Barbara Pons
    August 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Hurrah for your daughter!!!! My daughter is younger than my son. She is 8 and my high functioning son is 10. she is like a mother to him. she tries to calm him down and talk to him. She is the best!!!

  16. Toni Pederson
    September 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I always thought that the best therapy is a sibling for a special needs child. When our daughter was born we didn’t know our two year old son had autism until a year later. She was his best therapy. She was and is very social and wouldn’t let him alone, so he had to participate and use his words. There was this 18 month old going up to her big brother prompting him to “Say…” Now at 16 and she 14, she is the one main person who can get him to laugh and “get out” of his ‘negative speak’ when he’s upset.

  17. Anna Diehl
    September 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Don’t underestimate your daughter… I suspect she knows EXACTLY what she’s doing!

  18. September 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I would start my own blog, but I have no idea how, so your was closest to what I am doing. A few parents has gotten together to start a place made just for kids with autism, currently on the site is a story about flying that has help hundreds of kids feel more confident getting on an airplane. Also are easy magic tricks the kids can watch, learn and perform, with all the necessary materisl for FREE. We have been accepted into many autism schools, and we have doctors telling their patients about it. We would like to do the stories in animation, but it costs soo much! Then this month we got into the Pepsi Contest, and if we win, we will have videos out within 3 months.

    I need your help, imaginatin is so important, and what we give our kids needs to be safe. We can’t win without everybody’s support!! This is for the entire country, not just 1 state, and our 3’s are not improving. We were ranked at #217 yesterday, today its 235, We can’t do this unless people vote!! I am paying for everything myself right now, and I really don’t have it, but it helps so many, that I am willing to sacrifice.

    Please post, make a blog, tell me how, Just please I ask for u or anyone who read this, their help!! The place to vote is http://www.refresheverything.com/autismhelp2

    The websites are: http://www.samfoundationusa.org & http://www.sameasme.com

    Please help me, I’m just trying to help, and do the best I can to help, I’d so appreciate anything, anybody can do, I can be reached at sherylappel@yahoo.com please anybody who wants to help, contact me. Thank YOU!!!

  19. September 3, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Sorry for all the type o’s, misspelling, I’m tying to do so much in such a small window of time!! I try to write everyone from my heart! However, I need to re-read before I send!! Thank U for your understanding!!

  20. Melissa Cruz-Skaggs
    September 3, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Awesome! Yes, our little helpers (siblings) really do make a huge difference in their siblings interactions. The other night my son (Seth-7) said, “mom, I calmed Zachary (my other son-5) down when he was getting upset last night before bed.” I have a monitor in my room and honestly I fell asleep before them which rarely happens although exhaustion does win at times. I said, “really buddy, you are so good at that!: He said, “yea, you just have to stay calm so he does. I said, yep-you’re right!

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