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
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
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.