Siblings who live with autism may not be thinking in terms of interest and mystery!
Victor gives the poignant insight into life with an autistic brother used as the title for this post. It’s very difficult for parents to cope with an autistic child and give other children the time and attention they need.
Robert feels angry and despondent about his severely autistic brother, Barry:
I’m 14 and I have an older 18 year old brother who is autistic and also has severe learning disabilities. He has the understanding and emotions of a 3 year old. He drives me nuts and ruins my life. I can’t have friends over because Barry will get upset because strangers make him nervous. I can’t eat snack foods I like at home because they make Barry too hyper and it wouldn’t be fair if I ate them myself. I have to answer all his ridiculous questions that he asks a million times a day and I have to give him exactly the same answer every time because he will get upset and go into melt down if I say anything different or do not answer him. I always have to take second place in the family because Barry is so “special” and has to be considered first. Barry always comes first because everyone, including my parents are frightened of him. He also gets often hits me suddenly for no reason and then running away and he is BIG, like 6 feet and 16 stone
On top of it my parents are always saying how I will have to take care of Barry when they get too old. Wonderful. Like I will ever be able to have a wife and family of my own with an autistic brother stuck In my house terrifying everyone. I honestly hate him. He’s even worse than worthless because he makes me miserable and makes my life into hell.
My counsellor always tells me to have patience and that Barry’s special and I have to love and understand him but I know if she had to spend an hour with him she would want to kill him. Everyone who doesn’t live with an autistic person is always talking like that. They are so patient and kind and understanding and tolerant but how would they like my life????? Bet they would go totally insane in a week.
A huge challenge is how to support the Victors and Roberts and their parents in ways that are really helpful to them – as well as acknowledging the reality of the issues that they face. What are your views on what helps and what doesn’t – particularly if you have faced similar problems or have found ways of helping those who have them.