She sat beside me in the car, diligently working on sorting letters from the Elmo case she so often carries in her clutches, occupying much of her days.

We waited for her brother who, inside the adjacent building, sat working on his own set of goals, alongside his SLP and OT.

“A for Apple! B is for Baby!” Eva proudly exclaimed, gazing up at me, her smile filled with wonder and excitement. A girl after my own hearther love of books, words, and the letters that encompass them all emanates through her in the most joyous way.

I watched my girl revel in the same activity I’ve worked on with Leo since he was her age.

Those same letters, which brought my sweet boy joy by him lining them up in a meticulous, and repetitive fashion.

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They also represent so much in the way of his challenges.

Leo’s primary way of communicating for the past 10 years has been the epitome of the saying “love needs no words.” I am constantly in awe of his ability to connect with myself and others through unspoken language.

Yet, it doesn’t negate the fact that having more language, more words would make life infinitely less challenging for my boy. And despite how hard he works, those words in so many ways continue to elude us.

“OK, Eva, it’s time to put letters away, we need to go get Bro Bro, he’s almost done with speech.”

“Bro Bro!” she yelled out with excitement as she hurriedly secured her letters and shut the case.

Leo’s happy squeals resonated through the hallway as we approached the therapy room. Eva giggled in response to hearing her brother’s voice, audible through her tiny mask.

He was finishing up an activity on the iPad as we entered the room, his baby sissy staring up at him in awe of her cool big brother while we gathered his belongings and chatted briefly with his SLP.

Walking toward our car, my two babies in tow, I couldn’t help but think about their bond, as I often do.

I know there will be changes as they grow as is the case with most sibling relationships. But I hope through it all, Eva will always look at her brother with that same sense of love and adoration.

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A few days ago, while in the throes of our morning routine, Eva babbled away in her highchair chomping away on some Cheerios as I busily organized materials for remote learning that day. In the midst of it all, I turned to find Leo standing in front of me holding out the TV remote, a look of intent burrowed within his brows as he pursed his lips together, concentrating on the words, each syllable, and the sounds he wanted so badly to say.

“A for apple! B . . . baby!” he blurted out, for the first time, as clear as day, his gaze fixed on mine, before slowly shifting towards his baby sissy.

Eva’s favorite video currently is an alphabet phonics song, which she requests often using the phrase, “A is for apple.”

As I listened to the familiar tune, watching my two children soak in what each letter stands for, I took such comfort in the realization that as they grow, they will continue to not just watch out for and adore one another but learn from each other as well.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

Ellie Whetzel

Ellie Whetzel is a wife, mother, and a fierce advocate for her amazing son, Leo, who has autism. She shares her family’s journey on her blog- https://www.facebook.com/mylifewithleo/