My Brother Is On The Autism Spectrum, But He's Also The Sunshine Of My Life

My Brother Is On The Autism Spectrum, But He's Also The Sunshine Of My Life

And why his disability shouldn't be considered a burden.

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Recently while scrolling through Twitter, I saw a post by an anti-vaccination mother, who was using a photo of her son "not doing what he should be for his age" to promote her agenda.

Regardless of how I feel about vaccinations, I know for a fact my brother's autism was not caused by a vaccination, as he developed it long before he received any of them. It upset me that she basically devalued her son for the sake of her own political/moral agenda.

As a sister of a teenager with autism (well, almost, he's 12), I would never want to make him feel like he's anything less than wonderful even if he does have autism, the fact that I have to speak this way is abhorrent to me.

None of us are perfect human beings, so stop acting like you are, I'm sure everyone has a personality or medical trait that is considered less than ideal. Just because we can diagnose something, doesn't mean that the person should be considered lesser than.

My brother and I at my quinceañera 

Henry Gonzalez Photography

Let me give you some background on my sunshine boy.

My brother Elisha is one of my best friends in the entire world. He is the purest human being on this earth, and I will go to my grave believing so. He is the most joyful, kind, and compassionate people I know. I knew the moment he was born that he was going to be such a special part of my life.

My brother and I at a young age

Being 8 years older than him, I took it upon myself to be a true older sister and teach him everything I could.

When we started to notice that he preferred to play alone, and did not speak correctly (in fact, he hardly spoke at all), it was slightly frustrating. I know the "diagnosis" was hard on our family, but I'm absolutely positive it was a blessing in disguise.

He was raised believing that he was no different than anyone else, and we treated him like you would any other "normal" little boy.

My brother sending me off to prom 

Henry Gonzalez Photography

Of course, his life is not met without challenges by society, and there are some physical problems he's had, there have been so many surgeries for that boy, he's such a trooper.

It hurts my heart when I hear about the kids at school giving him a hard time, and when we get strange looks in public because the intonations in his voice don't sound right to people, but every day I see him make progress socially and it warms my heart.

Often times people tell me stories of meeting people with autism, they say that people with autism are hard to communicate with, and can be hard to relate to, or even like. Not Elisha. He wants to be a basketball playing chef when he grows up, or a janitor because he loves to clean. You'll never meet a sweeter boy who is so invested in appliances, or kind to everyone he sees.

My handsome brother on the way to his first junior high dance

Now that I'm in college, I don't get to see him as much as I would like to, but my brother Elisha is a joy in my life, and as much as I hoped I could teach him, he has taught me so much more. He has taught me how to be a selfless and kind individual, even if it seems like the whole world is ready to put you down.

While there are times I wish my brother did not have to live with some of these difficulties, he would not be the sweet boy that he is today.

I have seen such bravery and kindness from this boy, it inspires me to be a better friend, a better sister, a better daughter, and a better person every day. I love my brother and all of his quirks, I have no doubt they will be assets in his future, and he makes my world a better place to be in.

I just hope that perhaps one day the rest of the world will be as accepting and opening to all he has to offer because of his Autism, rather than reject him in spite of it.

Explore Odyssey's featured Autism Awareness content here.

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When You Make A Girl An Aunt, You Change Her World In All The Best Ways

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest girl in the world.

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My brother and his wife recently blessed our family with the sweetest bundle of joy on planet earth. OK, I may be a little bias but I believe it to be completely true. I have never been baby crazy, but this sweet-cheeked angel is the only exception. I am at an age where I do not want children yet, but being able to love on my nephew like he is my own is so satisfying.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a very protective person.

From making sure the car seat is strapped in properly before every trip, to watching baby boy breathe while he sleeps, you'll never meet someone, besides mommy and daddy of course, who is more concerned with the safety of that little person than me.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her a miniature best friend.

There is something about an aunt that is so fun. An aunt is a person you go to when you think you're in trouble or when you want something mom and dad said you couldn't have. An aunt is someone who takes you to get ice cream and play in the park to cool down after having a temper tantrum. I can't wait to be the one he runs to.

When you make a girl an aunt, she gets to skip on the difficulty of disciplining.

Being an aunt means you get to be fun. Not to say I wouldn't correct my nephew if he were behaving poorly, but for the most part, I get to giggle and play and leave the hard stuff for my brother.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her the best listening ears.

As of right now I only listen to the sweet coos and hungry cries but I am fully prepared to listen to all the problems in his life in the future.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the best advice giver.

By the time my nephew needs advice, hopefully, I will have all of my life lessons perfected into relatable stories.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a number-one fan

Anything you do in life sweet boy, I will be cheering you on. I already know you are going to do great things.

When you make a girl an aunt, she learns what true love is.

The love I have for my nephew is so pure. Its the love that is just there. I don't have to choose to show love every day, I don't have to forgive, I don't have to worry if it is reciprocated, it is just there.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest person in the world.

I cannot wait to watch my precious nephew grow into the amazing person that I know he is going to be.

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10 Things People With Autism Are Exhausted Of Hearing In 2019

Like, seriously?

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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.

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