Patience is not my Virtue

Anyone who has ever met my older brother Bradley can attest that he is quite the character. I feel like growing up my entire life just 5 years in age behind a brother on the spectrum has given me a slightly different perspective than most people who are just being introduced for the first time to a life that revolves around autism. Autism has been a large part of my everyday life since the beginning, and even though my brother does plenty to test my own patience at times, I am thankful to get to see things from this different view.

Bradley is fairly high functioning. Although he can’t drive and may never live on his own, he can do a lot for himself and can communicate very well. I can have full conversations with Bradley, although they tend to be dominated by mostly things that he is interested in talking about. But when he is not quizzing me on Pokémon or if I remember some old cartoon that debuted around the time I was born, he sometimes hits me with things that I just can’t help but smile about, like the “Bradley saying”, “Patience is not my virtue.”

It is by far one of my all-time favorite mantras of Bradley’s that I feel rings so true for many on the autism spectrum, including my boys. Bradley has repeated this statement so many times within my life, as my mother would often tell him to have patience while waiting for something and he would immediately belt back this response. Bradley is relentless. If there is something that he wants, even if it is just a response to something, he will bug you to death until you give it. Just the other day he called to tell me what he wanted for his birthday and then proceeded to call me an absurd number of times per day until I gave him the response he was looking for.

Waiting for anything has always been a struggle with my boys as well. Damion was born with the same restlessness Bradley has to bug you to death about whatever it is that he wants. Waiting for things physically or mentally is a struggle for him, and many other kids on the spectrum. That is why there are so many places that thankfully have programs in place to help with this very issue. That is also why I think the best thing we can do to help counteract their lack of patience (other than finding these programs and accommodations when available) is to find a larger amount of patience within ourselves. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. But I do find that when I am calm and patient through my son’s lack thereof, things get better.

Now like I said before, I have been dealing with this stuff for a lifetime, and even with that fact in place, there are plenty of days that I still struggle to make up for that extra patience that my son is lacking. But I try my best and that is really all that I could ever do. The patience I have needed as a mom is much more than was ever required of me from my sister roll, but I do sometimes think that God was helping me prepare for my boys by giving me a big brother to learn from.

Maybe that is what gets me so much about Bradley’s saying, that it is this big thing that so many kids on the spectrum suffer with, and that Bradley succinctly phrases so well. I have so many Bradley stories that I could tell, like I said, he can be quite the character. But I will just leave it with that small bit of wisdom from Bradley for today. For all the parents being hounded by their kids over something, or struggling through a meltdown situation because there is a wait that is just too long for your child to handle, just know that you are not alone. Patience is not their virtue, but maybe we can learn to make it ours.