Autism and other learning/mental disorders are a growing topic in today's society, and while others may believe that it can hurt a family as a whole, I wholeheartedly believe that our experiences in the world of Autism have only made my family stronger. My brother, Tristian, has Autism, and he does not deserve to be labeled as a "failure."
Tristian is one of the main reasons I love my life. I was there when he took his first steps and said his first words and he was there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. I don't think there's been a time where I wasn't thinking about him or the moments we've shared in one way or another. He is the absolute sweetest child you could ever meet, as well as one of the most determined.
There is no measure of the amount of love I have for that little boy, and he just happens to have Autism. In others' eyes, he'll never amount to anything in the "big picture." In our society, he is praised outwardly, yet is limited by the constructs we put up. He'll never have a "normal" or "meaningful" life and will "always need constant care." But what gave everyone the right to rate the happiness and potential of another human being? Why are we not asking the right questions?
Instead of judging or casting off people who suffer from a disability, why are we not collectively pushing to make their lives live up to our own standards? If we're not doing anything to help families suffering, we have no place to comment on the occurrence of disabilities in such families.
In my own experiences, when anyone says that a mental disability, like Autism, is a burden or a "waste of life," I can't help but disagree with that mindset. Of course, every family, in general, goes through their own set of medical problems, but the idea that a ruined life is synonymous with living with a disability is downright cynical and uncaring. Your life does not end when God presents you with new obstacles. Obstacles in life only make you stronger and the absence of said obstacles breeds complacency and discrimination.
My life with my brother and his diagnosis has only made me more grateful for the things I've been given. Whether Tristian had Autism or not, I would still have someone that I would be proud to call my brother. Autism has never and will never impede on his idea of self-worth or confidence. My family's bond may not be the strongest the world has ever seen, but the love surrounding us is undeniable.
No family should be labeled by the disability their child has. Their time is not wasted or thrown away, and their potential shouldn't be demeaned by stigmas that society has a hard time letting go.