Autism Does Not Define My Brother, It's Just One Part Of What Makes Him So Great

Autism Does Not Define My Brother, It's Just One Part Of What Makes Him So Great

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Let's light it up blue.
147
views

About 25 years ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide campaign to help raise awareness and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). April was then named National Autism Awareness Month. Autism Awareness Day takes place on April 2.

In the past, 30 countries and thousands of buildings around the globe participated in lighting it up blue including places like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza, Niagra Falls, Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids of Giza and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

What is autism, you ask?

Autism Speaks defines autism as, "refer[ring] to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences."

Put simply, ASD is when your brain works differently affecting your ability to process information and communicate.

Why does it matter?

Autism now affects 1 in every 68 children in the U.S. alone. This number is only expected to increase in the future until a definitive cause is discovered.

How do I light it up blue?

I am heavily involved with Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is a national nonprofit organization that promotes advocacy and support for individuals affected by autism and their families. I helped start the Autism Speaks U club at the University of Missouri.

The club plan to host Columbia, Missouri's first Autism Speaks Walk for Autism later this month. To further raise awareness, I post my experiences with autism on multiple social media platforms.

How does autism affect me?

When I was about 1 year old, my mom had twins. My sister began reaching all her milestones while my brother lagged behind. He wasn't making eye contact with us when we talked to him, and he didn't learn how to speak until a while after my sister had.

He was diagnosed with ASD when he was about 14 months old.

Growing up with a brother affected by autism has been all I've known. I would say it has a substantial impact on my life as he is very co-dependent and relies heavily on us as a family. My brother is someone I've always admired. He is smart, kind, funny, dependable and a great secret-keeper.

Autism does not define who he is. It's just a piece of the puzzle that makes him so great.

Explore Odyssey's featured Autism Awareness content here.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

Popular Right Now

Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

175262
views

We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

10 Things People With Autism Are Exhausted Of Hearing In 2019

Like, seriously?

403
views

Since Autism Awareness Month is here, I thought I would share some things that people with autism often hear but they are tired of hearing it is time that we all end stereotypes and start raising awareness in order to gain acceptance.

As people on the spectrum, we are tired of being placed in this bubble. We are way more than a disability. We are human and we want to live our lives like everyone else.

1. "You don't look autistic."

I didn't know that we had to have a certain look—that's like telling someone they don't look gay or they don't look like they are from Africa. You are really getting into stereotypes, aren't you? Are we supposed to have green skin, horns, red eyes? No one with autism has a certain look.

2. "You can be normal if you tried."

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I would be rich. What is normal anyway? If everyone was normal then the world would be so, so boring. Normal is just a setting on a washer.

3. "You should work harder at fixing your traits (the annoying ones)."

We are all annoying in some way (disabled or not), but telling a person with autism to act "normal" is like telling someone in a wheelchair to just get up and walk. We often mask our symptoms because we don't want people to know that we are dealing with sensory overload. We are working hard to meet you halfway—we put up with the things that annoy us, so do the same, OK?

4. "Must have been vaccinated, huh?"

Seriously, just stop! There is no proof that vaccines cause autism so take a seat.

5. "You must be really good at math."

Please stop comparing us to "Rain Man"—don't forget that it is a movie. Not every one of us is good at math. I'm actually bad at math and better at English.

6. "How can you have autism? You're a girl."

While yes, boys tend to get diagnosed more than females, it doesn't mean that we don't exist.

7. "I'm so sorry."

What is there to be sorry for if we are happy and living our lives? You have nothing to be sorry for.

8. "Don't get offended if I use the R word. Free speech y'all!"

NEVER use that word! I got called that a lot growing up, and I still hate that word to this day. Yes, I am for free speech being a journalism major, but there is a difference between using free speech for your rights and using it to be a jerk.

9. "Does that mean you don't have to work?"

Ummm some of us actually want jobs. We don't want to live off the government, we have our own bills to pay, we actually have passions and dreams that we wish to achieve.

10.  "You must be violent and a danger to others."

That is one of the most dangerous assumptions that you can make about us. Because not only does it increase stigma, but it will also make people think differently of us.

I believe that if people spent more time educating themselves about what autism is instead of making assumptions about us then maybe this would be a less ignorant world. So not just in April but all year round, educate yourselves on what autism is because with awareness comes acceptance.

Related Content

Facebook Comments