My Brother's Keeper

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Hello. If you are reading this, you: a.) stumbled upon this from one of AID of Indiana’s social media pages; b.) are actually interested in my input about the world of developmental disabilities and where I fit into it; or c.) are one of my friends or family members keeping tabs on me (hi mom). Regardless of who you are, I would like to thank you for taking time out of your day to read about my life, my opinions, and other miscellaneous things you may find in this blog. I am not sure what to expect with this, as I have never written a blog before… and you probably are not too sure yourself either, so maybe we can figure this out together.

Let’s start with my background, we can call this the ‘About the Author page.’ My name is TJ, son of Valerie, and Tim. I was born during the ‘Blizzard of 99’’, in Lafayette, IN (Boiler Up!). Fast-forward a year or so, we now reside in Fort Wayne, IN, and have ever since. Everything I know is Fort Wayne, I have lived here almost my whole life. I had a normal childhood, spent most summers outside at the pool, with my cousins, or my friends. My main interests were playing sports, WWE, and pizza. Just your basic kid living his basic life.

Around the age of 5 or 6, talks about me having a sibling were starting to come about in the house. I was so excited! I could have someone to practice those wrestling moves from WWE they tell you not to try at home. March 3rd, my brother, Jack, was born. This changed the complete dynamic of the house, since there was another kid to take care of… meaning less attention for me. This was something I did not want to get use to, I loved the attention I was getting for being an only child. Little did I know, the attention that I was getting would all quickly shift over to the new kid, Jack.

When I was around the age of 8 or 9, Jack was diagnosed with autism. I did not know how to take the news, just for the simple fact that I had no clue what a developmental disability was. I figured autism was just an illness that would go away in a couple weeks. As I grew older, I became more and more aware of what autism was through my mom explaining things to me and watching how my brother behaved. One way my mom helped me was by putting me in a sibling support group called SibShop. It was a group of kids who played games, ate food, and talked about their brothers and sisters who had developmental disabilities. This program really helped me come to the conclusion of: ‘this is how my brother is, and he is not so different from everybody else.’ I later became a mentor and leader of the sibling support group, and started a teen support group of my own with a few friends from the previous group. It was a lot of fun, and an experience I will always thank my mom for letting me be a part of.

It has been a wild ride with Jack so far. At first, he was nonverbal and not doing very well with his communication skills. Through extensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy, he now talks so much, we cannot get him to shut up! Not only does he talk any chance he gets, he is a superb athlete. He had just won rookie of the year for his team’s state winning cross country team this past fall. Jack just started his 2nd semester of 6th grade and has straight A’s in all normal classes. It has been so great being a part of his journey, watching him progress into who he is now, and seeing how he has affected me too. He really is my best friend, and I cannot wait for you readers to learn more about him!

 

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TJ Potchka

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