The sibling relationship is often the most long lasting relationship a person has in their lifetimes. It is often life-changing for the sibling who is not disabled. Siblings tend to be more sensitive to others being bullied, more empathetic to people with differences, and often times go into careers in the “helper” field. We’ve heard so many stories over the years of how having an autistic brother or sister has changed a person (most times for the better but sometimes there is resentment, shame, guilt or embarrassment). We’d like to share six sound bites and blogs from our archives about the sibling experience.
“Stop wasting energy on things you have no control over, it literally is the biggest brain drain out there.” Natalie Breen shares five things her autistic brother Pat taught her without even trying.
“Sibtain taught me to love my life. He has taught me to be thankful and to stop complaining because darkness leads to light… always!” Bushra Junejo shares eight things her brother Sibtain taught her.
The next two women have started nonprofits because of their autistic siblings.
“I remember the first time we spoke together. Brent told me ‘Jenny calm down. If you mess up, I’ll cover for you.'” Jenny Anderson talks about her nonprofit Celebrate Edu and how her brother Brent has changed her life. Celebrate Edu focuses on giving people with special needs the skills they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.
“Being Paul’s sister was a combination of devotion, nonsense, bewilderment, embarrassment and shame…shame for the times I was impatient or angry at him for being the way he was. Shame that he ’embarrassed’ me for his oddly peculiar behaviors which drew unwanted attention to us.” MaryAnn La Roche shares her story of her love for her brother Paul (who now is deceased). Paul inspired her to create the nonprofit SEEDS for Autism which providea a path from “learning to earning” for young adults with autism through education, vocational training and social development in Phoenix, Arizona.
Often times the sibling relationship effects relationships with others in profound ways.
“From when I was very young, I watched people’s behavior. If someone was purposely rude, or mistreated people, I immediately lost all interest in them. If someone tried to bully me, I immediately thought, well, if I’m too different for them, they’d never accept Anthony…I don’t want anyone in my life who wouldn’t accept Anthony.” Natalie Palumbo shares why she is single.
“He might not talk with his voice but he could get his point across on his Ipad. I can honestly say I was never so happy to be sworn at as the time I was when Joe typed on his Ipad he was” being loud because I was a nagging b*tch!” Nicola Farrell a few years ago shared with the Art of Autism her hopes and dreams for her younger brother Joe in a piece titled – My Brother My Friend.
“At three years old, I had a larger vocabulary and spoke more fluidly; and as a five-foot tall ten year-old, for reasons I did not yet understand, Taylor could not be trusted to be alone with me. One day, these differences were explained to me; Taylor had ‘autism.'” Jace King shared his admission paper to law school in which he talked about his relationship with his brother Taylor Cross and how his family was propelled into social advocacy.
Are you a sibling? Do you have a blog you’d like to share? The Art of Autism would love to hear your stories.