My life with a little brother on the autism spectrum
EDITOR’S NOTE: Braden Watkins, 11, offered to share a story about his brother Scott, who has autism, with CBC Kids News.
The family has struggled to get Scott into therapy in Ontario.
The Ontario government is making changes to its autism therapy program on April 1.
The goal is to reduce the wait-list, which has 23,000 names on it, by giving families money for treatment. Money will be given out based on the age of the child and the family’s income.
Some families are against the changes because they worry it won’t be enough money to cover the cost of therapy. Costs vary depending on how severe each child’s autism is.
Here is Braden’s story.
My youngest brother, Scott, is five. He has autism.
How autism affects Scott
His disorder isn’t something you can see — not right away, at least.
You might know other people with autism, and their characteristics could be very different than Scott’s.
That’s why they say it’s a spectrum.
Braden Watkins, top left, with his siblings Sean, Emma and Scott. Scott is on the autism spectrum. (Submitted by Aubrey Watkins)
When we first learned about Scott’s autism, he had difficulty interacting and talking with people.
He had trouble going to the bathroom by himself and telling people what he wanted.
It was hard for Scott to make eye contact and he liked to play by himself.
Getting help for Scott
Scott has been waiting for support from the government for therapy for almost two years.
Once his name got to the top of the wait-list, my parents were supposed to get help to pay for the therapy that Scott needed, based on the severity of his autism.
But a few weeks ago, the government announced changes to the program.
My family is worried that kids with severe autism won’t get the therapy they need.
Scott Watkins, centre, with his dad, Brad, and brother Braden at a Blue Jays game. (Submitted by Aubrey Watkins)
How we have fun together
Scott and I are six years apart, but I am a huge fan of the little dude.
Even though he has challenges, our relationship is priceless.
Scott and I build forts and play with toys together. He loves to use his imagination.
He will grab my hand and say, “Let’s go!” and drag me all over the house.
He laughs a lot. We sing songs together. He sits and reads with me.
Scott and Braden Watkins enjoy reading together. (Submitted by Aubrey Watkins)
I love him and he loves me, and I know this because he tells me before he goes to sleep every night.
How therapy has helped him
When Scott started kindergarten last year, he also started to go to therapy, which my family is paying for while we wait for him to move up on the government’s wait-list.
He went to school half the time and my parents paid for therapy the other half.
I liked to volunteer in his class at lunch time so I could spend more time with him.
But the therapy has made a big difference.
Braden Watkins, left, says therapy has helped his brother Scott in many ways. (Submitted by Aubrey Watkins)
Scott can now tell an adult when he needs to go to the bathroom. Most of the time, he can tell you if he wants something.
He remembers names. He makes eye contact. He holds our hand when we are out together.
Those things may not seem like a lot, but it’s a big deal for us.
Therapy has been a huge help, but it costs us a lot of money. Scott needs to continue therapy so he can practice the skills he learned.
We are cheering for Scott
He is such a smart little guy and he amazes us every day.
My wish is that one day, I will be able to have a conversation with him.
Braden Watkins, left, hopes his brother Scott can continue getting treatment for autism. (Submitted by Aubrey Watkins)
He would tell me how his day was and what he wants to be when he grows up.
We all want what’s best for him, and I hope my little brother and all kids with autism will always be able to get the help they need.
I think that all kids deserve a chance to become the best they can be.