Autism and Siblings


Several years ago, I worked for an incredible family that had two children. The oldest brother was exceptionally bright and had an incredible eye for photography and film. His younger brother had severe Autism as well a whole slew of other issues affecting his growth and development, but he was such a love, and thrived on hugs, kisses, and tickles.

But putting my adoration for this family aside, the older brother was always on top… or so he seemed to be. He was athletic, ridiculously smart, had a ton of friends, he was popular, and had parents who catered to his every whim and interest. Believe it or not, even I was a little jealous at times. Who wouldn’t be! Right?

But I wonder if this boy was ever asked, “what is your life like with an Autistic sibling?” Is it easy? Hard? Fair? What do you wish for when it comes to your brother? Do you do fun things together? What do your friends think of your brother? Do you love/understand your brother?

I’m almost positive that I can answer these question myself, but I know that this brother felt left out a lot of the time. In his house, therapists came and went like a well oiled machine. I was there 2-3 days a week after school, for three hours a session, and sometimes I took one or both boys out to have some fun; bowling, ice cream, bouncy house places, etc. This family was incredible, but I could tell that the older brother had an emptiness inside of him that couldn’t be filled, no matter how many friends he had, no matter how many new X-Box games he had, or endless attention from his parents. But, he had a brother who he loved, and the love in return was beautiful.

I haven’t seen this family in a couple of years, but I hear from friends that they are all doing very well. The older brother is thriving and the younger brother is doing exceptionally well. I miss them terribly but I know they have each other, and that is what really counts.

Enjoy the Oprah video. It really does give some excellent insight into families and how siblings feel about their Autistic brother or sister.

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