And while things aren't always perfect between them, Middle Guy can usually be counted on to look out for his little brother with love and patience. When possible, he tries his hardest to include him in his activities and even goes above and beyond by trying to plan special events he feels Little Guy would like.
Unfortunately, even the best of intentions can sometimes go wrong when dealing with someone on the spectrum.
There have been recent occasions when Middle Guy's efforts have "backfired". The worst was about a month ago, when he decided to spend some of his money to buy Little Guy a small lego set he wanted. Middle Guy doesn't have a job, so his money is hard to come by, and he tends to be quite protective of it. However, he and his little brother share a love of legos, so Middle Guy decided to generously help Little Guy build his own collection.
The drama started at the store; they didn't carry the exact set Little Guy wanted. Middle Guy was able to persuade his younger brother into going with a different set, but upon inspection of the box, he discovered it had been opened. None of the bags with lego pieces inside had been opened, but there was no way of knowing if all the bags were present. It was the only one on the shelf, so it couldn't be swapped out, and Little Guy was VERY adament it was the one he wanted. Middle Guy ended up purchasing it, but showed the opened end to the cashier and was told he could return it if any pieces were missing.
Little Guy wanted his brother to begin working on it the minute we arrived home. We walked into the kitchen, were I began cooking dinner and Middle Guy started building the set. Within five minutes, it was apparent that pieces were indeed missing.
That's when things came apart.
Little Guy began screaming and crying, insisting that his brother "fix" the problem. While Middle Guy is a whiz at lego construction, the missing pieces were highly specialized and there was nothing in our spare lego bucket to fix it with. Little Guy started grabbing pieces off the table, taking them into his room and trying to hide them in different places. Middle Guy tried to reason with him, telling him he needed to return the pieces so we could take it back to the store and get a new set. Little Guy began to hold the pieces tightly in his hands, to prevent his brother from prying them loose. He began shouting, "I hate legos, I never want to play with them again! This is all your fault!" before running into his room and slamming the door in his brother's face.
After talking with a sobbing Little Guy (and getting the pieces from him), I decided it would be best to leave him in his room until he could calm down. I walked into the kitchen and resumed my dinner preparations, when suddenly I heard a sigh from the table. I glanced over at Middle Guy, who had his head in his hands. There were tears in his eyes as he looked at me and said, "I feel like crying, Mom. I was only trying to do something special for Little Guy, something I thought he'd like."
My heart ached for my son, who had tried so hard to make his little brother happy. I thanked him for his efforts before gently reminding him that the episode had been triggered by Little Guy's autistic behaviors, and to try not to take it personally. I ended by telling him what a wonderful brother he is.
Luckily, we were able to exchange the lego set for another that Little Guy fancied - one with ALL the pieces included. The evening ended on a happier note, although some of the excitement had evaporated from Middle Guy. I just hope he won't be reluctant to plan special things for his brother in the future; although it may be difficult for Little Guy to express it, I know he treasures the time he spends with his big brother.