I am a twenty year old English major (beginning to work towards a masters in occupational therapy), who just so happens to have a wonderful brother that struggles with the spectrum disorder called autism.
Now a days it seems to me that many people know someone with this disorder or perhaps even struggles with it them selves. However, every individual is marvelously unique, and every story is different.
My brother Daniel and my story begins with his first appearance to the world. As soon as he was born I went into a protective older sister role and I was so happy to have a little brother to play with! But as two years passed my parents realized that he wasn’t progressing at the same rate that I did. In fact, they actually thought he was deaf because he wasn’t responding to his name or would even look at them when they entered the room. So we took him to a doctor and he was diagnosed with autism.
At the time, there was little if no information about this disorder; which made finding the right programs and therapies that would be good for him rather difficult to find. So my mother ceased going to college to start working with him daily on the things that he needed to improve on; such as: communication, motor skills, etc. Eventually my parents were able to find some suitable therapists and other programs that could work with him daily or weekly, which then allowed my mother to go back to college.
My role from the beginning of my brothers diagnosis was as a third parent. I would keep an eye out for any dangerous behaviors (like climbing on our concrete fence,swimming alone in our pool, or eating something un-digestable), making sure that he didn’t soil him self, and making sure he didn’t hurt anyone. That last job actually could use some explanation. You see, as my brother grew older he began to experience some behavioral issues; we believed that this was due to a lack of proper medications, not being able to communicate effectively, and having a diet that wasn’t appropriate for his needs. His behavioral issues included things like pinching, biting, hitting, kicking, headbutting, hair pulling, etc. These behaviors are not ones that we as a family indorsed, but in public situations we were limited in what we could control and could not control. Therefore, in a public setting, my parents would hold both of his hands and I would stand in front of him as a blockade so he would not lash out at a stranger.
From about age eight to age fourteen my brother wasn’t the most pleasant individual to spend your time with. But as he grew older and our methods became more refined, he developed into an impressive young man. Now we can go out to eat, see a movie, go hiking, go swimming, have long car rides, the world is so much more available to him now.
With this blog I hope to share some of my experiences and knowledge as well as learn from others. I want to contribute more to our special needs community. When growing up I found it difficult at times relating to kids my age because they really didn’t understand my situation, and I know there are other kids and parents who feel or felt the same way that I did. Hopefully, this will help add to our blooming community and support systems. 🙂