When the time came to finally start thinking about what I should do for my capstone project, I had so many ideas in my mind. But when I really thought about it, there was one person that kept lingering in the back of my head: my brother.
My brother, Maurice, has autism; and I knew that no matter where I went, I would eventually have to care for him when my parents were no longer able.
All my life, I have had to help take care of my brother. Whether it was watching him while my parents went out, going to IHOP, our favorite restaurant to go to together, helping to teach him new things or even taking him to prom, I have done it all. Taking care of my brother -- younger by only 15 months, by the way -- was something that just came naturally to me.
Of course, I had to mature much faster than my peers because I also took on the responsibility of helping my parents with my brother, but if I had not, then I would not be the person I am today. I have always been called a grandma or mom or any other nurturing nickname you can think of; and I know it is because of Maurice.
Now that he's in the next chapter of his life, I feel as if I am experiencing everything with him. Just as I was there for the Individualized Education Program meetings, school plays, dances and, yes, even having to defend him against bullies, I am still there now, even though we are over 2,000 miles away.
I had the same worried feelings of the parents I spoke with during this project. Many of the questions that I had were also questions that they had. Doing this project helped me to realize that we are not the only family going through this transition process.
Right now, Maurice is attending a vocational school back home in Detroit, and he is even in a work based learning program that he really enjoys. When Maurice graduated from high school in 2015, I had no idea how this entire process would go, but so far it has not been too bad. Of course, Maurice still has his challenges, but who doesn’t? All I want for him is to be able to take care of himself, achieve all he wants in life and eventually cook me a meal or two one day!
I seriously couldn’t ask for a better brother. Maurice is literally my best friend and has been my daily inspiration throughout this capstone project.