Best Friends


In my family growing up, there were three girls and one boy (and he was the youngest; poor kid). My husband grew up with a twin brother. Watching my husband and his brother interact over the years made me realize how unique and special brother relationships are. I’d never seen two brothers like that. I think because my brother didn’t have a brother. But there’s something great about that relationship. Maybe it’s the physical aspect (wrestling and what not). Maybe it’s the gross humor (my husband STILL laughs at fart jokes). I don’t know. But there is something special about it.

I have three children: two boys and one girl. Cooper and Semmes, my two sons, are best friends.  Just ask Semmes.  If you ask him, “Who is your best friend?”  he will say, “Cooper,” without hesitation. But Cooper has special needs. He’s nonverbal, non ambulatory, etc.   So Cooper and Semmes will never have the traditional brother relationship that I wish they could have. But being best friends is still something I want to instill in Semmes early.

Posts like this make me want to cry. Cooper will never protect Semmes like a ninja or have candid, never-ending talk sessions.  He will never save him from trouble, share any secrets with him, or fight over silly things.  And that’s fine.  There are many other ways to interact.  I dream about waking up one morning to Semmes and Cooper in one bed because Semmes crawled in there with him overnight.  I hope Semmes talks to Cooper, telling him all his secrets that he knows Cooper will never tell anyone.  I want them to be best friends in this way, since there are so many ways that they can’t be best friends.  And this is why I have taught Semmes, all his life, that Cooper is his best friend.

The day may will come when Semmes will resent Cooper for something.  Our little family will never be able to all play together; someone will always have to be with Cooper. We will have to take turns riding rides or swimming or kicking the ball or whatever.  There is much you have to put aside when you have a child with special needs, and that’s ok, but I know that at some point Semmes will complain and whine that it’s unfair, and he will be right.  It is unfair, but Cooper will still be his best friend.  Because he was taught, from a young age, that Cooper is his brother, and therefore his best friend.

Specific Ideas for Siblings to Interact without Talking:

  • “Read” books. My barely 5 year old can’t actually read yet. But he can look at pictures and tell his big brother a story. This is a great pre-reading skill for my little one and my big one likes that his brother is talking to him! Win-win.
  • Watching movies together. Cooper LOVES music and lights. So brightly colored, animated movies with songs in them are his favorite. Their current favorite is Rio!
  • Dyeing Easter eggs. This was a big hit! We did the thing where you put food coloring in whip cream, and the boys had a blast rolling the eggs around in the mess.
  • Dance party! I’ll put Pandora on a fun channel (“Happy Radio” is my favorite) and dance around with Semmes. Cooper finds this hilarious and laughs along!
  • Swimming. Or really, just being in the water together. Cooper has this crazy floaty and Semmes can make it to the side if he falls in, so I’m hesitant to call it swimming. But they both love the water and it’s something they can do at the same time.

Let me know of any other fun things two brothers best friends can do without talking!


  1. Thank you so much for this! My daughter has infantile spasms she is also nonverbal and autistic and I worry constantly about the relationship she has with my 8 year old son! I’ve read all of your stories and they hit so so close to home!

    • My son also had infantile spasms. I now have an almost 2 year old daughter as well. She loves to give Cooper a hug and kiss before bed. Just keep fostering their relationship. Make it a priority.

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