The bond between siblings is generally very special, but the bond between Calvin, a neurotypical second grader and his brother with autism spectrum disorder, is something parents dream about.
During World Autism Awareness Day at Barrington Elementary students were encouraged to wear blue in recognition of people on the spectrum. Well, Calvin wasn’t satisfied with just wearing a color, he knew that wasn’t enough to educate his friends on what it is like to be on the spectrum. He was determined for his classmates to know more about autism and his brother, Andrew a pre-k student in the ECSE Program.
After expressing his passion and disappointment, Barrington’s school principal, Ruth Riha, was inspired to do more.
“Calvin’s mother shared how disappointed he was with our autism awareness efforts,” said Riha. “After our conversation I felt strongly the school could do more to educate students and staff. Thankfully, another autism parent, and teacher, pointed us towards Hope For Three’s programming.”
Calvin, 8, with his 5-year-old brother.*
Hope For Three, Fort Bend County’s local nonprofit and autism advocacy organization provided “It’s Cool to Care,” a virtual interactive presentation that provides insight on the characteristics of autism and provides students a first-hand look at the challenges their differently-able peers endure. Students walk away with tips and strategies on how students can be a “good friend.” During the presentation to second-graders, Calvin was able to share details on his relationship with his brother and his own tips for caring for others.
“Calvin is a true advocate for his brother, and we need more kids like him in the world today,” said Mother Ashley. “He couldn’t stop smiling following the presentation to his classmates and also learned a thing or two from the program.”
The ‘It’s Cool to Care’ program derived from another Hope For Three effort, Teen Huddle, which consists of a group of 25 teen volunteers with the mission to ‘Increase autism awareness and acceptance among teens.’ The group also provides programming for families such as a parent’s night out and events for siblings. To learn more about Teen Huddle and Its Cool to Care program, visit www.hopeforthree.org. Applications are now open for Teen Huddle volunteers for the 2021-2022 school year.
*Photo Courtesy of Mom, Ashley Bennett: L to R, Calvin, age 8, second grader and brother Andrew, age 5, Pre-K, both students at Barrington Elementary School.