Jayla is 8 years old and the middle child of 5 children. Both of her brothers have Autism Jayden is 13 yrs old and Jayceon is 6 yrs old.
Jayla is very smart and attends a gifted school “Sara M.Gilmore Academy” she is in 3rd grade now. Last year Jayla and her little sister Jaylani (7yrs old) are extremely understanding of their brothers and the challenges that come from both of their brothers being on the spectrum. Last year, Jayla had spoken to a few friends about her brothers and their struggles. One day while in Media Center she chose a book about a boy with special needs. A classmate asked her why she chose that book and Jayla replied “both of my brothers have autism remember?” To Jayla’s surprise her classmate said “Eww they’re weird and dumb.” Jayla can home distraught crying how it was her worst day of school ever. Now this is a child that cries during summer break because school is over and she will not be receiving any more homework. She began to tell me what happened on the way home. Instantly, my heart was shattered for Jayla and myself and most importantly for my boys.
After all these years they’re still being mocked and ridiculed for a disability they have no control over and have never wanted. So I asked Jayla, well Jayla what do you think we should do? Jayla’s reply was “we need to teach her about autism so she won’t be scared of any kids like they boys who have it.” I was impressed but most importantly bursting with pride. She didn’t even want to get her classmate in trouble she wanted to educate her. She asked me if I can speak with her schools counselor Mrs. Torres to ask if she would be able to bring in a book I have read to all of my kids about autism “My Brother Charlie.” Mrs. Torres loved the idea and Jayla was able to read it to her both 2nd grade classes. Then Mrs. Perez (her schools principal) got wind of it all and called me in to commend me on Jayla handling the matter in such a mature fashion and wanting to educate the other students. Mrs. Perez asked Jayla if she would like to read the story to grade 1-4 in the auditorium. Jayla obliged and although she has stage fright she faced her fears and practiced at home and read the story with her principal beside her. Her principal who also has a son on the spectrum so this was a matter that hit her close to home as well. She got choked up a bit and took a minute to get herself together but all in all I’m so proud. Proud I raised such a wonderful and thoughtful little girl who thinks of everyone’s needs before her own. Who rather educate her peers rather then get them in trouble. Who at the age of 7 stood up for her brothers and faced her fears to make sure her brothers will be understood but most importantly accepted.
This is what makes my Jayla a “Special Needs Sibling!”