Growing Up With An Autistic Sibling

Growing Up With An Autistic Sibling

The stigma around autism needs to end.
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Autism is something that kind of gets swept under the carpet, and In america there is way too much of a negative stigma on autism. For some odd reason people think that someone is autistic is stupid, which is just not true. Autism for one, is a broad spectrum so I don't know how you could nail a narrow minded word such as “stupid” on such a large variety of humans. Some people who have Autism can seem like your everyday person, and some are just unique in their own way- but that doesn't make them stupid. Many autistic children may lack social graces or whatever the case may be, again it's hard to say because the autism spectrum is so large, but they typically have a strong suit in other ways. I strongly believe it is time to end the stigma, and treat autistic people just like you’d treat anybody else.

My brother is autistic, and my family and I refer to him more as nonverbal than anything else because that's really what it boils down to as far as the way he behaves. He just cant speak, so he communicates with sign language and gestures. He acts like a normal teenager, watching YouTube videos and attached to the computer. Even though he may have a hard time communicating, he does everyday things like making his dinner plate and cleaning his room. A lot of times people may stare at him in public because he outwardly shows such joy for everything with laughs and giggles which isn't typical in our society. Do I think he’s stupid for the small social flaws? Absolutely not. He’s so smart, he can probably work a computer better than any typical kid his age. Because somehow he knows how to play 10+ videos at the same time.

I think it's a blessing to have grown up with a brother who is autistic, because it teaches you about the world. For me, it has taught me that you should take those two seconds and smell the roses and live in the moment, and find the happiness in the small things. My brother is always smiling and laughing at something, whether it's getting excited about his favorite food or a silly YouTube video--he finds joy in all the small things. Sure sometimes I might feel weird getting stares when we go out with my brother, but I just remember that some people are just ignorant to the fact that all people are different.

My mom always says that she believes everyone is a little bit autistic. everyone's brain functions a little bit differently, and everyone has their own struggles within themselves. Weather it be something like ADD/ADHD, Depression, anxiety, etc. we all process things differently because of these differences- autistic children just have a different level of brain development. autistic children aren't weird or stupid, they're just unique children.

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To The Sister About To Move Away, Girl, You've Got This

You may not physically be here right now, but you're always with our family.

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You were there on the day I was born, somehow sleeping soundly as our mom gave birth to me. I'll never forget the photograph of her presenting me to the world and you sitting beside her, holding up your newly-purchased beanie baby with pride as if being handed this toy was equal to the miracle of birth.

It was a crab, by the way, which somehow makes it funnier.

Growing up, you loved to trick me. You'd make me do chores for you and steal my favorite Barbies, but I think that's just part of being an older sister. I'd stick my tongue out at you and cry out the same phrase, "Mooooom, Sissy is being mean to me!" In fact, I yelled this phrase so often that it began to take on a musical quality.

You were mean at times, but you always had my back. You physically beat up other children that had wronged me, and you let me crawl into your bed so we could watch TV together and exchange stories. We'd often immerse ourselves in fantasy worlds where we were princesses and we rode unicorns side-by-side.

But we grew up, and our fantasy world evaporated like the muddy puddles we'd play in after stormy nights. One second it was there, and then, it was just gone. I remember having a conversation a few years back where we wondered if we had known the last time we played Barbies would, in fact, be our last.

When I was a seventh grader, you were a junior in high school. Our problems were very different back then, but that didn't stop us from talking endlessly about them. We were so similar. We bonded over cheerleading, cute boys, books and music. But even more than that, we bonded over our similar life views and questions about the universe. We both possessed an innate love for life yet we were both distrustful of society's guidelines.

Watching you enter new life phases enthralled me. I thought, Wow, that will be me someday. I danced around the house in each of your four prom dresses, my imagination taking me to a place much grander than a high school gymnasium. Through your stories, I romanticized the future and hoped that I would be as cool as you.

It was a little tough at times, though, always longing for a different part of life. When I entered junior high, all I wanted was to be in high school. When I entered high school, I decided college was much cooler because that's what you said. And you were certainly right about that one.

You were the only one I felt comfortable sharing my writing with, the only one I knew could read the meaning behind my sideways glances. We just got each other in every way.

And we still do. To this day, you are one of the people I love and trust most. I don't know what I am going to do without you by my side, as you've been right there for 20 years. But I'm so proud of you. Of the many things we would lay around and talk about throughout the years, one topic persisted: moving away. Moving used to be a pipe dream, something beautiful that lived in your mind but would never come to pass.

And then you took a chance. And now that dream is a reality.

I want you to know how much I admire you. You are so incredible and resilient. I've never met anyone so strong-minded and willing to fight for what she believes in. You would never compromise yourself or your values for another person, but you are generous with others and so kind-hearted.

You are curious about the world and have a desire to learn about life and the richness it has to offer. That is a special quality that cannot be learned. You are beautiful in every way and are truly a blessing to have as a sister.

And it is from these very qualities and so many others that I know you will do great on your own. Sure, it's super tough at first; nobody said it would be easy. But if anyone can do it, then that person is certainly you.

I will always cherish our moments together, and you can always count on me to be there on the sidelines cheering you on, no matter where your adventure takes you.

Much love,

Your Little Sis

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