Quiet House

Two brothers standing next to each otherMy wife started it.

Attempting to get some conversation going with Clay on the keyboard he uses to communicate, she typed: “The house is quiet without your brother here.”

We had dropped Clay’s older brother back at college that afternoon after a five-week winter break.

“So true,” Clay typed back. “We are sad that he is back at school. Sorry that he is not here.”

It seemed like it would end there, but it didn’t. As with many things, it is hard to read Clay on his relationship with his brother, who is five years older. They seem to mostly connect through roughhousing. They will roll around together on the floor, both of them laughing. Often, Clay will run at his brother full speed, leading with his head in a manner that would get him suspended in the NFL. His brother blocks the move by squeezing Clay’s head between his hands, which of course is exactly the kind of “deep pressure” stimulation the little guy is looking for.

Clay’s brother is also a good mimic. He imitates phrases and noises Clay blurts out, usually eliciting a smile from his little brother.

It can be hard to relate to a brother who doesn’t talk or participate in any of the kinds of activities other siblings might. They’ve worked it out as best they can, though, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that Clay became agitated after the exchange with his Mom. We could hear him upstairs, rolling on the floor, raging about something. My wife went back in with the keyboard.

“What’s wrong?”


“Because your brother is at school?”


So, my wife decided to send a message from Clay to his brother. She texted him.

“Message from Clay: We are sad that you are back at school. Sorry that you are not here.”

Moments later, her phone beeped with a reply.

“Message for Clay: I’ll be back before you know it.”

She read Clay the message, and the agitation ended.

Not wanting to lose momentum, my wife typed to Clay on his keyboard, “Maybe you can email each other to stay in touch?”

“A good idea,” he typed back.

Another connection established.


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  1. #1 by Loretta on January 24, 2011 - 8:42 am

    Ross is a sensitive and loving brother. And we see the same is true of Clay. How wonderful that they’ll have the means to communicate that to each other. You did good, Roe and Lar!

    • #2 by Larry Blumenthal on January 24, 2011 - 11:39 am

      The relationship between Clay and his brother hasn’t been without its bumps and bruises, but given the obstacles, they are doing great. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. #3 by Kathy Perry on January 24, 2011 - 10:39 am

    What a great way to continue this strong relationship while the boys are separated!

    • #4 by Larry Blumenthal on January 24, 2011 - 11:37 am

      We’ll keep everyone posted on how the email connection is going. Stay tuned.

  3. #5 by kim mccafferty on January 24, 2011 - 11:17 am

    Am storing these tips in my brain for down the road, thanks for sharing!

    • #6 by Larry Blumenthal on January 24, 2011 - 11:36 am

      Glad this was helpful.

  4. #7 by The Domestic Goddess on January 24, 2011 - 11:24 am

    Hm. Good reminder that even if we think they don’t feel it, they do. Sometimes they just show it in a different way.

    • #8 by Larry Blumenthal on January 24, 2011 - 11:35 am

      One of the biggest results from Clay learning to type is that our Advil expenses have dropped – for him and us. Like all of us, he feels things intensely. Now that he can share his feelings, and we can acknowledge them and take some action to help, we are all less frustrated. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  5. #9 by Gpa Tony on January 28, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Clay and Ross are just having a healthy brother relationship. Ask his mother about the bouts she experienced as she was growing up with her four brothers and sisters. It sure is great to hear the talking machine is so vital to Clay. We now know what he is thinking. What is the relationship with Clay and Miles (his dog)? Thanks for keeping us informed about Clay. You are doing a great job Larry.

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