Through His Puzzled Eyes - Jonathan Learns To Run - 4
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February 25, 2015
Through his Puzzled Eyes - Our Autism Superman - The Introduction 1
January 2, 2015
My name is Verlaine Brunot and this blog is an extension of a life story that I've had the privilege to share with many people around the world. I hope it brings you a an enhanced perspective of not only autism, but the pervasive nature of developmental disabilities and how they affect the community at large.
The impetus for this blog is my youngest brother Jonathan. He is my hero.... and he doesn't even know it.
Jonathan is 25 years old, undeniably handsome with an effervescent smile and a hearty “Eddie Murphy”-type laugh that resonates everytime you hear it. He has simple loves and simple interests; home-cooked Haitian food, musicals like Mary Poppins, Disney/Pixar movies and his number one passion; to run.
Jonathan is a passionate and dedicated runner, more specifically a marathoner. He has completed 14 marathons to date and an Ultra Marathon (30k) in Caumsett Park NY. He has run the Boston Marathon 6 times including 2013* and has completed the NYC Marathon 6 times and the Long Island Marathon once in 2013.
Jonathan also happens to have autism.
Growing up with a sibling that has autism has impacted my personal growth in a beautiful and meaningful way. That's not to say that it has been easy.... it most certainly has not!
Most people have pre-conceived notions of what something like autism entails. Throughout my childhood, I had friends who thought my brother had special abilities a la the movie Rainman, while others assumed he was a danger or aggressive or ou of control.
The truth of the matter is that Autism is a spectrum disorder, and he happens to be on the severe end of the spectrum, meaning that many of his mental deficits are so pervasive that he needs 24/7 supervision. An autistic individual oftentimes needs help with everyday processes that us “neuro-typical” individuals take for granted. Here is a crash course in some of Jonathan's daily struggles.
Jonathan is capable of “doing” many things, but his depth of comprehension prohibits him from completing many mundane tasks without assistance. This includes brushing his teeth (needs verbal prompting) bathing ( he can't regulate the water temperature in the shower) and even getting dressed provides problems (he can't adjust his wardrobe to be weather appropriate)
Jonathan has no sense of safety, in the home, on the street even in the classroom he has to be monitored to avoid potentially hazardous situations.
Jonathan needs assistance to prepare food, set the table, eat in moderation, and supervision in cleaning up
Jonathan can recognize words and phrases but can't read or write sentences (He has hundreds of mastered words and phrases in his lexicon)
Jonathan needs help picking out weather-appropriate attire, as well as guidance to put his clothing on properly (not inside out, or backwards)
These are only a few of the challenges that can present themselves when dealing with an individual with autism anywhere on the spectrum.
The story I will tell over this series of blog posts is one that I've lived for twenty nine years of my life, a period of time that has been challenging, rewarding and humbling all wrapped into one.
My mother always taught me growing up that my brother Jonathan wasn't merely autistic....WE were an autistic family.
It took a collective effort of sweat, persistence, discipline and committment to get Jonathan up on that billboard in Times Square, but the full story behind that will come soon.
Suffice to say... it is our favorite picture in the world.
99% of the people you will meet in your lifetime will never be on a billboard... and my incredible brother with severe autism did it.