He is brilliant.
He is priceless. His brain works in ways that mine never will. But he does not fit society’s ‘norm’ and these unique, amazing skills he possesses can often go unappreciated. My brother has autism.I have had a unique life. I grew up with an older brother whose needs were always more important than mine.
Acceptance took longer than I wanted it to… strange looks when Blake acted out in public, the uncomfortable look on my friend’s faces when i decided (after many months of internal debate) I would invite them over to play.
Sometimes when a sibling has a disability you feel pressure to compensate for it. I wanted to be the best at everything and go above and beyond in every minute detail of my life. I was hyper aware of my dire need to succeed for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be the athlete I imagined my father longed for. I wanted to be the smartest student my mother would beam over – this was all self-provoked and not at all from my parents.
I selfishly considered myself the only possible ‘proof’ that my parents were good parents and could raise ‘good’ children. Who else did they have? Who will take care of them someday? I realise now I could not have been more wrong.To be the brother of a child with autism means every day is crazy and you never know what to expect.
It’s stressful. It’s chaotic. You grow up very quickly. Whining about staying up later or wanting the newest phone seems completely insignificant when your sibling is struggling with basic life skills. You deal with a lot of emotions and anxieties that never cross the minds of other 8-years- olds.
Why are those kids staring at my brother? What are they saying? Please stop flapping your arms. You hate your sibling, you love your sibling. It is overwhelming at first and that’s okay. You lose a lot – that fun looking holiday attraction that might overwhelm him and not having simple things like balloons at a party as a kid as it might irritate his sensory issues.
However, what you gain are irreplaceable life experiences that turn you into a strong, independent and caring human being who knows the true meaning of love, hard work, patience and family.When I was little, the doctors said Blake would have speech and cognitive issues, not being able to speak and understand in the way other kids his age could. I wondered if my brother would ever be able to talk to me and tell me how he felt and why he cried and screamed. I wondered why we couldn’t leave the house without tears, even to go to the grocery store or why my mum was tying his shoes at ten years old.
I didn’t understand why he didn’t respond when we screamed “BLAKE!” over and over the day my mom asked me to watch him for two minutes and he wandered away. I wondered how many other six-year-olds had lost their brother before and if they understood the guilt.People fear what they do not understand. Understanding is the key to acceptance; to understand that everyone is different and some people need extra help, extra time, extra attention and a little extra love. Understand that a disability does not give you the right to ever feel you are worthier than someone else. Autism exposes some tough, scary feelings.
It forces you to reevaluate and abandon the life you may have envisioned and begin a new, untraveled, unplanned path.But thats okay when you have an overwhelming amount of support from loving friends and family and I still wouldn’t change him for the world.