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  • Kala Pierson

An Open Letter to My Brother with Autism

Dear Max,

It was Valentine’s Day 2001 when Mom told me you were joining our family. Our family had been trying to adopt for years, but we could never find the right fit. I was eight and couldn’t wait for you to come home. I helped set up your room, helped pick out your name, and had lots of talks with Mom and Dad about what it would mean to be a big sister. When we brought you home, we were filled with so much excitement for your life and the life we would build together as a family. You don’t remember this, but I would sit and watch you for hours, to make sure you were safe and protected. Then, when you were first diagnosed with Autism among other things at age 2, we were unsure about what this meant for you. There was a lot of fear, frustration, and anger because why would God allow this to happen? Since then we’ve learned and experienced so much. Now that you’re 21 there are a few things I want to say:

Thank you.

I thank you for showing me how to love freely and without judgment . You’re the most disciplined, consistent, punctual person I know. I’ve learned so much from you. Thank you for always being honest with me, even when I don’t appreciate it in the moment. Thank you for your good morning texts and always being down for adventures. You’ve taught me everything there is to know about bowling, down to the types of oil patterns they use for the lanes, who the top PBA bowlers are, and how many kids they have. You’ve shown me what it looks like to tap into your genius and shine unapologetically. Everytime you’d pitch a no-hitter on the baseball field, kill a drum solo without lessons, or bowl a 300 game in bowling was a true testament to your God-given talent, your focus, and dedication to your craft. Whatever it was at the time.

I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry for the ways in which the world has failed to recognize your brilliance. It’s been heartbreaking to see you experience the pain of rejection. I know at times you understandably feel hurt, frustrated, and misunderstood but please know that you have so much more going for you than you know.

I’m sorry for the ways I’ve failed you, as a sister . For the times I didn’t understand you or your needs. For losing my patience and the times I focused on improvement over being present with you. Even when one moment is challenging, I try to start fresh with the next one, just like you’ve always done for me.

I’m proud of you.

Mom, Dad, and I are so proud of you. We no longer ask why you’ve been given these challenges, but we do our best to show up each day to make sure you have what you need to overcome them. Watching you grow from a shy little boy into a young man always willing to share your talents, knowledge, and opinions( 🤣) has been such a beautiful journey for me as your sister. I love it when we go out and I randomly see you deep in conversation with a stranger. You’re responsible, kind, and helpful. I want to always be a safe space for you to feel seen, affirmed, and loved. I’ll always be here encouraging you, fighting for you, and reminding you how amazing you are! Not watching you as closely, but still always making sure you are safe and protected.

I love you, brother.



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