Growing up, I knew my brother and sister were different. I have triplet siblings, two brothers and a sister. My middle brother was fine but my other brother and sister were different. At 3 years old, after having outburst at their preschool, my parents took them to a peadetrican and there was when they were both diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My brother and sister are on the Autism spectrum but on different levels.
My sister, Andrea, has Aspbergers but she was still developing at a regular. She has emotional outbursts and always talked for long periods of time. She has mood swings that were understandable but are very annoying at times. But she is smart and goes to school like a regular person. My brother Louis, who we call Tata because he's named after our grandpa, was diagnosed with severe autism. He's nonverbal and his motor skills are minimal. To explain it in simple terms, he's a ten month old baby in a twenty year old's body. He has meltdowns everyday and would run across the room. He always covers his head by pulling part of his shirt over his head. He would hit himself so much that he would have to have gloves put on him so her wouldn't scratch himself because he hated having his nails clipped. We have to brush his teeth, give him baths, dress him, feed him. He can't do anything for himself. He requires 24/7 care or else he would tear apart the house or run off to God knows where. He's on medication now to calm his migraines so her would be less aggrivated.
As a kid, I not gonna to deny this, I was jealous of my brother and sister. They got most of the attention from our mom because they required more hands on attention. Meanwhile I was daddy's girl because he didn't want me or my other brother, Kevin, to feel like we were neglected. As a teenager, it felt like we were taking care of a pet when we had to watch him. I know that sounds horrible to say but for a thirteen year old, it felt like that to me. We didn't really have a close relationship with our mother until we were in our late teens. Before our dad died, there was a detachment we didn't know there was but after, we became closer and mended that broken tie. I started researching what Autism was as soon as a knew what the name was. Knowing what I know now, I get why my brother and sister acted the way they did.
Most of all, I understand how much my mom went through and how much she's sacrificed for my brother and my siblings. Why she would be tired and why she get mad. Why she would cry some nights and her and dad fought constantly. The strain it took on their marriage and why my brother and sister went to a different school while me and my other went to a regular public school. Being a parent is hard enough but raising two disabled children is even harder.
She was a stay at home mom for eight years before she went back to work. She does so much self sacrificing and I was so oblivious to it until I got older to understand what was going on. I want to take care of her more now because she's getting older. Right now, it's little things like taking her to lunch or buying her something she would put off. Taking care of an autistic adult is also a financial strain. My mom makes enough to care for my brother and take care of the house and herself but I always send her some money just to make it a little easier for her. She never asks but I want to take care of my mom now that I'm able to. Today, she works at a job she enjoys while still taking care of my brother but now has a caregiver in the house to take care of him while she's not at home. And we have so many family members who understand and help him in anyway they can. Whether it be watching him for a day or taking him to a doctor's appointment. We have a village behind us and will always be there for us in anyway possible.
People look at people with Autism or other mental disorders like Down's Syndrome and feel sorry for them and their families because they think they got the short end of the stick in life. And to that I say, "We don't need the sympathy.". People underestimate the strength people have to handle life's challenges. My mom is the strongest woman I know. Raising four kids, two of them being on the spectrum, and still managing to pursue her career is amazing. I'm so proud of her and hope to be half as amazing of a mother that she is. She raised four great kids and I'm so thankful for her.
I know a lot of people whose kids or family members are newly diagnosed on the spectrum. If I had to give any advice into how to respond or how to feel about the situation, I would say this. As a family, this is a change that will affect not just you as parents but also the person's siblings, grandparents, and immediate family.They are going to need more attention and your kids are going to feel a form of neglect. You and your spouse are going to have rough patches and may seaperate from each other. You're going to get tired and angry and feel like nothing is working and that's okay. It's going to be hard and you are doing the best you can. You are a good parent and a good brother or sister to him or her. It's constant learning but it will be okay.