We Need Each Other

I have been surprised to find many times, instead of me teaching my kids, it’s my kids teaching me.

When Matthias was in first grade, David’s 1st-3rd grade special needs class would walk over to Matthias’ classroom for reading time, language arts and special projects. Mainstreaming created a space for students with special needs to learn beside their typical peers. In this environment every child benefits and grows.

While Steve and I love mainstreaming and having special needs kids working with typical peers, we were concerned for Matthias. He had just begun first grade and was adjusting to a full day at school. We didn’t want him to have to explain why his brother had only two fingers on his left hand or why his brother couldn’t speak with words. We didn’t want Matthias to feel he was in the spotlight. We wanted Matthias to have his own space at school. We explained our concerns to David’s teacher and we all agreed it would be best to have David work on skills such as kicking a ball or sorting colored blocks, while the other special needs student mainstreamed into Matthias’ classroom.

A couple months into the school year, David was playing in the small playground next to the larger playground. Matthias spotted David and his aide over on the little playground.

“Oh my gosh!” Matthias yelled as he ran over to the chain link fence separating the two playgrounds.

“David, DAVID! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” he yelled, waving and calling to David.

As David and his aide made their way toward the Matthias, Matthias turned and called his friends over.

“You guys, come here! Quick! I want you to meet my brother.” Matthias said.

Matthias was joined at the chain link fence by three or four friends. On the other side of the fence stood David and his aide.

“This is my brother!” Matthias said with pride. “When David was in my mom’s tummy his instructions got mixed up. That is why he only has two fingers on his left hand. That is why he is so small. That is why he can’t talk. But isn’t he AWESOME?!”

Matthias’ friends nodded with smiles.

“Bye David!” they all yelled as they ran back to their game.

When I arrived at the school that afternoon David’s aide recounted the whole story to me. I could feel the lump in my throat as she described how excited Matthias was to see David and introduce him to his friends.

I felt tears filling up my eyes as I realized I didn’t need to worry about Matthias. I didn’t need to create a safe place where he could be himself without having to explain about his brother with special needs. Not only was Matthias capable of explaining David’s special needs to his peers, he was proud of his brother. He loved his brother. He wanted to be near his brother. Matthias is better because of David and David is better because of Matthias.

{The Cross Bar Birthstone Necklace represents stability and strength}

We need each other. Together we have stability. Together we are stronger.
Family is messy and imperfect. Family is the foundation that keeps us on solid ground. Family is love. And love is everything.

Matthias has taught me so much about what it means to LOVE with your whole heart.
These two are better together.


  1. My son Ian has two fingers on his right hand, he’s trached and is on a vent. My older son is SO proud of him. He always asks me to bring Ian to school. And when we go to the playground after school he always shows his friends how awesome his brother is. ❤?

  2. Our daughter Juls is 19… she has special needs . She has made her big sister Jen, (29), and Drew, (23) and my husband and me all better people. We try to live the change with love, acceptance and tolerance of all people. People with special needs are angels placed on this earth to spread love❤️. I placed an order from you tonight, then I read about your family and it adds even more beauty to your jewelry!

  3. Our 5 year old son is non verbal & has hearing loss & a learning disability. He has been in a special classroom in the early learning program this year but next year he starts kindergarten. I hope he will be accepted like this little boy. He is such a sweet, happy little boy!

  4. As a former Special Needs Preschool teacher, I witnessed some bullying to my students. However, the majority of the students accepted and included them. The the joy and acceptance Matthias had for his brother, David, was pure love and a tribute to your lovely family.

  5. I just love this story! What a wonderful relationship your boys have. How wonderful to be loved so very much by your younger brother. I have re-read this story several times since I discovered it last night. It blesses my heart so much and really touches me! I had to share it on facebook. Beautiful!

  6. What a beautiful story!! Makes me want to hug my brothers & sisters! The bond between siblings is pure love! Your posts grab my heart! ❤️

  7. Dang Lisa I knew you were an amazing person it shines bright threw your art & family Behind all beautiful children are awesome parents. Keep spreading your love & joy ❤️Shine on ?

  8. My youngest was a boy with a seizure disorder. It never was under control and caused learning disabilities. His six older sisters took such good care of him. He and his sister who was 22 monrhs older, were especially close. He taught us so much! He had a good life. We lost him last month after a gran mall seizure. He never came out of it. What wonderful memories we have! And beautiful love/loss rings from you!

  9. This post reminds me of watching my 10 yr old grandson help his almost 17 yr old brother, who has autism, at Christmas. It was such a sweet exchange. They had no idea I was watching. It has occurred to me many times over the last 15 yrs that the lessons we have learned as a family could not have been taught any other way. Its not always easy, but its worth it, right?! You are a blessing to all who read your posts. Thank you!!

  10. This story reminded me of our grandson – Jared 15 – who was born with Down’s Syndrome. He has two sisters – Abbey 18 & Emma 13. They treat Jared as though there is nothing wrong – the love they have for each other warms our hearts. Jared attends almost all of his sisters games (basketball & soccer) and even cheers appropriately to their scoring. And, their teammates always greet Jared verbally – sometimes even with a hug. What a BLESSING our grandchildren have been to us and the things they have taught us are immeasurable. We LOVE them & try not to miss telling them so.

  11. What an amazing story. When my childhood neighbor had a special needs Grandson, Her
    remark was, God gives Special people, “Special Needs” children. That’s been over 35 years
    ago, and I have never forgotten that comment. Your family is truly SPECIAL !!

  12. Your life stories are so inspiring….they make me want to be a better person. Thank you. Love to your awesome family.

  13. I taught “special needs children” for 39 years (retiring at the age of 79!!!). Loved your story. Brought back lots of memories. You sound like great parents. God bless you.

  14. As a special educator, I has observed over the past thirty plus years that children with disabilities teach our typically developing children has much, if not more, than typically developing child teach our special kids.

  15. Loving this story…I’m an aide with autistic friend and I couldn’t picture my life without them..l am supposed to be their teacher but the four year old olds teach me way more than I could ever teach them

    1. I know exactly how you feel. I am an aide to an amazing friend. People always say how lucky my student is to have me. But I always correct them to let them know that I am the lucky one. She blesses my life beyond words.

  16. After reading all the hatred being spread after this election, it feels so good reading a story like this. You both must be amazing parents. And by the way, I love my Gino, and Louie rings.

    1. Regarding “mainstreamed” autistic children who are unable to communicate verbally: A teacher had an inspired guess how to communicate. It worked. She then tested many, many mainstreamed children. Not only did she find that nearly all of them had learned nearly everything they had heard in class while “just sitting in” over the years, but most of them, tested using her communication protocols, scored at the “bright student” level.

      Using her communication protocols, she, and others, found they could communicate “real time” with many of these children.

  17. Aw man, you warned me, but glad I had my makeup off! I have been a special ed teacher for years and a social worker before that. I can’t tell you how any times I have been humbled by the ‘mouths of babes’. Keep on loving yours

  18. Tears welled in my eyes when I read this. Aren’t our kids just the perfect glimpse of God…they have everything the need. Our son, now 37, was diagnosed with a very severe speech problem at age 2; now our grand daughter, age 2, has been diagnosed with the same speech problem. I can look back and see how our son’s struggles with speech, education, social skills and ‘life in general’ brought much heart ache and many tears, it was though these struggles that God modeled him into the amazing son, husband, father and friend he is today. Thank you so much for sharing precious stories of David and Matthias. I can’t wait to get my bracelet I ordered that Jesus at the beginning and end of our son, daughter-we-love and grand childen’s names listed. It will be a special treasure to wear and share.

  19. ACK!!!!! So much LOVE for this – ” Matthias is better because of David and David is better because of Matthias.” Lisa, this spoke to me so much.
    Yes they are better for having each other. We have a similar situation – and yes they bring out the best sides of each other (when they aren’t fighting – sigh!!)
    Thank you for sharing!

  20. This is a loving and beautiful post. I am sharing this to my best friend of over 50+ years. Her son,Michael, who owns a chunk of my heart, also was born with CDLS. May God continue to bless your wonderful family. <3

  21. What a loving family. Thank you for sharing what you have learned through adversity. It changes us for the better I think. 🙂

  22. Lisa, as i was reading this all i could think about was today’s political climate and how many people could learn a lot from this post. Safe spaces are not the answer. Most times we have to stretch our boundaries in order to grow and learn and understand the world around us. It’s a process. L.i.f.e. is a process. My hope is for peace for all of those who are fenced in by their anger.

  23. Lisa, I Love this story,your children are so adorable,plus it doesn’t matter how you look, sound.I have a disability too. I wear hearing aides in both ears and they help for so long, because the older you get your hearing gets worse. I got them when I was in grade school,plus I was in a special needs class,because I was slow. Now I am 55 years old and have anxiety and depression.It is hard at times to cope with this. I take a lot of medications.I have faith that one day it will be better, but is so hard since My dog Mookie died.Now we have a dog named Bo.

    1. Rita, I am sure you have seen some good changes in your 55 years that have enabled you to communicate more effectively with limited hearing, for example, the internet. Do you find this to be true?
      Sorry your dog Mookie died, i can relate to this as my dog died recently as well. I hope you will find comfort with Bo.

  24. Awww…I love this story. It’s a natural and beautiful way to grow up–knowing people are different but everyone is important and special.

  25. I have a special son who is 29 years old. He was our first child! He is an amazing young man who has touched so many people in his 29 years. We also have a daughter. She has no special needs but your comment about Matthias being a better person because of David struck a note in my heart. Andrew my “special” one is kind, gentle, loving and the most truly accepting person you will ever meet. His entire attitude is full of a happy spirit. Because of him and his differences our daughter, Emily, has chosen to be a nurse. She graduated with honors and works as an emergency room trauma nurse. One day when she was deciding her occupation she told us that living with Andrew made her want to help others. She wanted to give back because she was given so much! I don’t think there are better words to hear from your child. She and Andrew are both amazing young adults. Our pride of each of them is huge. I often have to thank God for thinking us capable of raising one of his “special” children. We have been blessed beyond understanding. I love your stories and I love you jewelry! Sally Allee

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