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Autism Appreciation Month: The Wee Family

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

By Melissa Lushington, "Don't Cut Corners...Unless It's Cake" - Blog Series Vol. 4, Slice #4

Welcome to another year of Autism Acceptance Month! Previously around this time, I’ve

talked about what autism means to me, the importance of autism acceptance, and why we

celebrate Autism Acceptance Month in the first place, but until now I’ve never talked much

about how important it is for us as a community to appreciate each other. I mean I did start a

mini blog series last year about appreciating/ recognizing autistic people of color (Black Autistic

Voices) and in the same year, I started another mini-blog series about appreciating/ recognizing autism moms as well as some moms who might be autistic themselves (Autism Mom

Appreciation Month), but I want us to start appreciating/recognizing all members of the autism

community, especially if they have made a positive impact in our lives through sharing their

lives on social media. Therefore, every year for Autism Acceptance Month, I will be dedicating

my April blogs to many members of the autism community and express how much of a positive

impact they’ve had in my life as an autistic individual through a new mini-blog series called

Autism Appreciation Month. The first shout-out I will give in this series will be to a YouTube

autism family channel known as The Wee Family. I was introduced to The Wee Family on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, and ever since then, I’ve personally bonded with them through watching their videos. Photo Courtesy of The Wee Family

It’s worth mentioning that I have talked about The Wee Family before twice in previous blogs. The first one I wrote, was in December of 2021 for the Verge of Independence Project blog post titled, A Year of Reflection: Breaking the Walls of Autism Myths. The second one I wrote in April 2022 is titled Vaccination: The Safety Shield for Autism. The blog was published on Daniel Jones’s website known as The Aspie World. Jones who is autistic has a YouTube channel with the same name as their website. In the second blog post, I wrote about how I was introduced to The Wee Family. I’ve personally bonded with them through watching their videos of autism acceptance and inclusion. The very first video I ever watched of The Wee Family, was the one where they talked about how autism awareness and acceptance are today and every day. The video is titled Autism Awareness & Autism Acceptance Is Today and Everyday | Getting Involved With Shopping, and in the description box, they stated that the reason why they made their YouTube channel, is because they want to spread awareness about the realities of autism and they also wanted to spread the importance of accepting autism as something normal but different. I thought to myself that this is such an awesome family to have such an amazing mindset on helping to make autism be accepted as something normal as well as educate people on how autism is unfortunately misunderstood and misrepresented by the public due to lack of knowledge and willingness to be open-minded. In every video that I watched since then, I’ve seen them practice their beliefs strongly based on the way I’ve seen them treat their autistic daughter Braylee. David and Stacey treat Braylee like a human being, and not a tool or a pet.

They see Braylee as an intelligent, independent, and strong individual who’s not afraid to speak her mind about how she feels or what she wants. They never underestimate her capabilities of doing anything she sets her mind to, but they’re also not afraid to be realistic about the limits that Braylee has and they never force Braylee to go beyond anything if she’s not comfortable with it. They also never shame Braylee for being the way she is, which is another thing that I admire about this family. David and Stacey are open and honest about the bad days they have with Braylee, but they never do it in a way that makes it look like it’s Braylee fault because they understand the difference between a meltdown and a temper tantrum which is that a temper tantrum is something you can control, whereas an autistic meltdown is something you can’t control. Also, autistic meltdowns are something that autistic people can easily feel insecure and embarrassed about, but David and Stacey never make Braylee feel insecure or embarrassed.

They make Braylee feel like her meltdowns are a normal part of who she is, and you can tell by the way they explain her meltdowns on camera by saying that they get through it and make plans to have another adventure for another day. Another thing I admire about The Wee Family is the amount of growth and development that I’ve seen in Braylee in the short time that I’ve been viewing their channel. She went from spending most of her time with her parents, to now having a small group of friends name Emma and Dominic to spend time with instead.

Emma and Dominic were first introduced on the channel on March 15, 2022, in a YouTube video titled A Friendship Story. The video was about how Braylee made a best friend at school, and that it’s the most wholesome friendship that David and Stacey have ever encountered. They talked about fortunate they are to see their friendship grow, and the bond that Braylee and her friends have made is simply love that needs no words. Stacey explains in the video how she reached out to a mom online and told her how Braylee and her daughter Emma are getting along well with each other, and she asked if the two girls can get together. Emma’s mom was excited about it and agreed to make the arrangements for Braylee and Emma to meet. Since then, Braylee and Emma have spent time together more than once, and Stacey has explained how their friendship is something that is so amazing, and beautiful, and warms her heart greatly. She explains how their friendship makes her emotional at times, and there are no words to fully explain the beauty of their relationship. Emma is in Braylee’s class, so they get to interact during the day. Outside of school, Stacey has explained how she sees Emma with Braylee and describes Emma as someone who is kind, considerate, and really cares about Braylee. Stacey describes Emma as being a really sweet kid, and she loves her to pieces. She explains that Braylee loves Emma as well, and you can tell because the feeling between Braylee and Emma is very mutual and they love to be around each other, and they’re always smiling when they’re together. They even hold hands and are always hugging each other, and Emma makes Braylee feel comfortable and confident making her a great peer model as well. The most amazing thing about this friendship is that Braylee picked her own friend this time instead of having it be arranged for her. This is one of my favorite videos from The Wee Family because not only do you see how autism inclusion and acceptance is displayed through the family themselves, but you also get to see it fully displayed by others as well who interact with The Wee Family.

It’s very common for people to isolate others and treat people unfairly simply because they are different from everyone else, especially in a school setting where grade schoolers, middle schoolers, and even high schoolers are trying to figure out their identity while also trying to figure out their place in the world and peer pressure, self-esteem, and a desire to be accepted by others can cause students to act cruelly towards one another. Thankfully Emma and Dominic don’t seem fazed at all by the toxicity of peer pressure, and they don’t seem to care much about being accepted by popular kids in school. The only thing that truly matters to them, is being friends with Braylee. The moment they met Braylee, they fully accepted her with open arms and their parents did the same. They also took the time to know Braylee and understand her as an autistic individual, and this is really important because it shows a willingness and desire to let yourself understand and be educated about something that is unknown to you instead of being

judgmental and letting yourself be ignorant of something you don’t understand. Also, the fact that Emma, Dominic, and their parents were willing to let themselves know more about autism and Braylee’s autism shows how much they truly care about Braylee in terms of putting her needs first so they can adapt and make themselves accommodate to make Braylee feel more comfortable and included. Some of my other favorite Wee Family videos are the ones where we see Emma, Dominic, and their mom spend time with Braylee, David, and Stacey by going to events such as an Avril Lavigne concert. Emma, Braylee, and Dominic have become so close that at this point they’re not seen as friends anymore…they’re seen as new members of the family. I remember watching a video where David explained how they didn’t just meet new friends, they met new members of the family. It was one of those moments that really made my day because it really showed how far they’ve come in their journey of friendship. Looking at the thumbnails of their earlier videos from three years ago, I can tell there have been some attempts where Braylee tried to make a friend, but it, unfortunately, didn’t stick. However, the friendship that Braylee has with Emma and Dominic is the longest that a friendship has ever stuck for Braylee to the point where David and Stacey now have some friends that they consistently hang out with as well.

Another moment that really made my day, was when David made a comment in one of his videos about how fortunate they are to have friends like Emma and Dominic for Braylee, and how this friendship may not have been possible if they hadn’t moved to Minnesota. That moment hit me hard because it made me reflect on myself, and see how much positive progress I’ve made by simply moving to North Philadelphia. From being placed in the IEP program in sixth grade which helped me improve my grades at school, to discovering myself as autistic in 2017, to being given an internship opportunity at Community College of Philadelphia to be a blogger for the Verge of Independence Project Organization that I am currently still doing today. I think about how much of my life would have changed if I hadn’t moved to North Philadelphia, at the time that I did.

Would I have still been placed in the IEP program? Would I have still discovered myself to be autistic? Would I still have ended up being a blogger for the Non-profit Organization Verge of Independence Project, or would my life have taken an opposite turn? Regardless of the what-ifs I ask myself, I’m ultimately grateful for where I am right now and all the events that had to happen for me to get here. I’m also grateful for where The Wee Family is right now, and all the events that had to happen for them to get here for the betterment of Braylee’s development. My favorite video from The Wee Family of all is the video that they made about me. I’ve told this story briefly in the blog post I mentioned previously, but for those of you who are new here and this is the first blog post that you’re reading of mine, I’m happy to share with you my story again. On August 6, 2021, I emailed The Wee Family about the wonderful content that they make on their channel, and I also shared with them my blogs as a link attachment. By the next month in September, I received a reply email from David, who gave such thoughtful words of gratitude and encouragement when he stated, "Hi Melissa, Thank you for your message! We are happy you found our YouTube channel, and it is good to hear that you find value in our videos. I have seen your emails and messages about your blog, and I was finally able to take some time and check it out. You are a talented writer, and I think it's time to share what you do." Then on October 1, 2021, The Wee Family uploaded their video wherein David shared and promoted my blogs in his segment called Coffee with David. The video where the segment took place is called, AFTER SCHOOL ROUTINE... KIND OF | WHAT IS A LCD WRITING SCREEN | COFFEE WITH DAVID, and watching that segment was easily one of the happiest moments of my life. I felt emotional in seeing how much my blogs made a positive impact in their lives, and after watching the video I felt so motivated to continue sharing my blogs with members of the autism community in which they all responded to me with warmth and kindness. Watching the same video, a year later, I saw that I’ve grown so much from the September blog post I wrote in 2021 and I’m happy to see myself continue to grow creatively as a blogger to this day.

In conclusion, The Wee Family is amazing at what they do as contributing members of the autism community. They dedicate themselves to sharing their lives and producing good quality content for the viewers watching their channel. They don’t do this for fame, they don’t do this to be financially rich, they do this because autism is real, the way that autism is misrepresented and misunderstood by the public is real, and all they want is to educate people about what autism truly is through sharing their daily lives with the world so that autism can be seen as nothing more or less than normal. If it can help one person’s life become better, that will make this YouTube journey worthwhile. That’s what David told me once during our online conversation when he states, “I remember when we first started making videos 3 years ago, I said this will be worth the time and work if our videos just help 1 person in the world or make 1 person’s day better. It has been amazing to see the community around our channel develop and we have gotten so many positive messages. Glad we never stopped doing this and messages like this one keep us going. Thank you.” I’m happy to say that The Wee Family, has grown tremendously large following on all their social media platforms by just simply being themselves, I’m happy to say that The Wee Family are still going strong after their three year journey on YouTube, I’m happy and thankful to say that I played a small part of their journey through the video they made about my blogs, and I’m happy to know that people like The Wee Family exist in this world to help make autistic life more understood and accepted by society. Thank you Wee Family, for all that you do. I encourage you to please keep going and know that everything you do is well appreciated by me, other members of the autism community, and everyone else who views your channel. Please give your support to The Wee Family, by checking out their YouTube channel at the link down below and subscribing, please check out the YouTube video The Wee Family made about my blogs in a link down below, and please check out the other blog post I wrote about The Wee Family that’s posted on Daniel Jones’s website The Aspie World. Thank you, and Happy Autism Acceptance Month!

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