“But A doesn’t care, if she accomplishes a simple skill like hopping she is so proud of herself and it puts her in a good mood for the rest of the day. Asperger’s isn’t all bad, A has a really good long term memory. She can remember little facts about things that happened over eight years ago, like what clothes she was wearing…”, Rebecca Noble, Age 15, about her younger sibling Amy
By Rebecca Noble
My sister is different. She has a disability. My mum and dad kept it to themselves at first. Making me feel left out, angry at them that they wouldn’t tell me why they were crying, arguing or why the conversations stopped when I walked into the room. I couldn’t stand watching my parents fall out over how one of them did something wrong when dealing with my sister. My heart would drop when I found my mum crying and when asking what was wrong and just getting “I’m fine” as a reply.
Ever since we found out, these past five years for my family have been especially hard: numerous meltdowns, meetings with mental disability specialists and tears, lots of tears. This is all because of A, my little sister. You see, she doesn’t look like she has anything wrong with her. When you look at her you see a small, green eyed girl with gorgeous, short, auburn hair. She has rosy cheeks and always has the biggest grin on her face, that’s when she isn’t having a meltdown. My parents first started seeing signs that she was different when she was only seven years old.
A is such a loving, kind hearted girl but when she gets worked up, stressed or there is a lot going on around her she becomes really loud, hyper and jumpy or she has a huge meltdown and scream, hit, be cheeky and throw things. This is all because A has “High Functioning Autism” which is also referred to as “Asperger’s Syndrome.”
Asperger’s Syndrome is a mental disability that affects the brain in a lot of different ways. In my sister’s case it affects her concentration, her understanding of sarcasm, her tidiness, her short- term memory and her coordination skills. I feel so bad for her that she struggles with these things.
She always tries to keep up with me and wants to be able to do everything that I can do. Due to her autism she can’t do any of it. But A doesn’t care, if she accomplishes a simple skill like hopping she is so proud of herself and it puts her in a good mood for the rest of the day. Asperger’s isn’t all bad, A has a really good long term memory. She can remember little facts about things that happened over eight years ago, like what clothes she was wearing when we went to Heads of Ayr Farm Park. Unfortunately, she has a really bad short-term memory, struggling to remember instructions from only a few minutes ago. However her disability isn’t physical, her brain is just wired differently, affecting how she processes information.
Months after my parents found out she had it and had been acting differently, they sat me down and told me what had been going on. At first I was speechless and confused. I didn’t know what Autism was and I had no idea that they had been looking into a diagnosis for A. My mum explained it all and told me about why A acts the way she does. I remember my heart sinking. I felt awful for A, the little girl upstairs playing with her dolls doesn’t deserve such a hard life. My dad also told me that A didn’t know about it so I wasn’t allowed to tell her. For weeks after I found out, every time I looked at her I felt bad for her. I regretted every time I laughed at her for doing something wrong because it wasn’t her fault, she doesn’t try to act like that or make herself look stupid. I had to keep reminding myself: even though she has been diagnosed with autism, she is still the same person she was before.
I struggled adjusting to the changes we had to make. But just like a baby plant my relationship with my sister grew better and stronger. At first I was always angry at A. I hate people going through my things, but A doesn’t understand that, so she does it anyway. I get so mad at her but she doesn’t listen, she doesn’t hear the anger in my voice or see the look of anger on my face. A doesn’t see feelings in people, she can’t read facial expressions. I have to deal with it though, it’s part of her autism and she will never change, which makes me so frustrated. I have to change the way I act around her and to her. I still find this really difficult and struggle most of the time. I haven’t changed the way I act and I still don’t treat her the way I’m supposed to. I am ashamed of how I treat her but sometimes I can’t help it. She makes me so livid that I just want to scream.
But outside the home A was bullied.
We had the same friends when we were younger but as we got a little older the girls started to leave her out. I may be mean to A but if someone else is hurting her I will always stand up for her. She is my sister.
A has recently joined a social group for children with autism. Since then, she has been so much happier, made some great friends and has been in a better mood. It makes me so proud that she finally has friends. I love it when she is happy, it makes me over the moon.
This experience has changed our family so much. It has caused a lot of arguments and has stopped my family from doing things together as A always tries to take over or has a meltdown. It has also made me see her differently, I see her as a normal person. Recently A has told her class about her autism, which was a very difficult thing to do and I am so proud of her.
It shows her class that she’s not weird, just wired differently.
Rebecca is 15 years old and her sister Amy is 13. Rebecca wrote this essay on her experience of being a sibling for a class in school.
This was originally published on the Scottish Autism website under the title She’s Human. Rebecca’s parents have a current crowdfunder to keep services open in their community. The Scottish Autism Lanarkshire One Stop Shop is closing due to both the local councils and the Scottish Government not willing to continue the funding.