A Sibling with Autism (Essay)

loving a sibling with autism

When I was seven years old, I was sure that if my brother’s autism didn’t exist, everything would be better.

It would be easier to get a genuine smile out of him. At school he wouldn’t be surrounded by people who said nothing to him except for “retard.” He’d laugh at my jokes, protect me like an older sibling ought to, and have petty disagreements with me instead of fights that ended with his violent outbursts and my guilt for getting angry at something he couldn’t control. Without autism, I wouldn’t need to help him with his homework as if he were in kindergarten instead of 11th grade.

But as I grew older these thoughts wavered, particularly after incidents that didn’t involve me at all. Once a boy at school was walking down the hallways, surrounded by friends. As they walked by, a special education student dropped her papers. In response, the boy and his friends kept walking without pause.

As I bent over to pick up the stray papers, I realized that my brother’s autism had rendered me more understanding and patient. After all, while my parents focused much of their time and attention on him, I grew up myself. Due to Willy’s medical condition, I never had a “normal” older brother. However, I had come to understand that life was not a candy-giving machine, and I could either ignore my brother or include him in my life – no matter how nerve-wracking his behaviors could be.

Before I was sure that autism was a disease, a malfunction of the body – that it ought to be “cured.” Yes, I admit, there are many times when I have wished he was not this way: when he shrieks and dances in front of my friends, when he laughs with his classmates even though they are laughing at him, when he slaps tables and rips papers because he doesn’t know how to channel his anger, when he comes home crying because of mistreatment by his peers. But there are other moments, too, fragments that happen much less frequently but still manage to stay in my mind.

I remember yelling at a popular boy to stop giggling at Willy and seeing Willy’s face light up. I remember him clutching my hand and laughing. I remember his bursting into my room to tell me about his day. I remember greeting each special education child at my school whenever I saw them because I knew that’s what Willy would want.

I am not sure now whether autism is good or bad, whether it has affected me and my brother for the better or for the worse. After all, it kills me to know that Willy will never live alone, never drive a car, most likely never get married. Without autism, would I have the patience I possess now? Would I have the bravery to calm his tantrums? Would I try to help the other special education students at my school? The answer is probably no.

Written by Tiffany Liu, San Francisco Bay Area High Schools

This entry was posted in Autism Advocacy, Autism Awareness, Autism California, Autism Symptoms, Featured, Personal Essay and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>