A good friend sent me the following short essay written by Dylan, an 11 year old girl whose 8 year old brother has autism. The essay accompanies an appeal for donations to the upcoming Autism Speaks walk in Los Angeles. Siblings of those with autism and other developmental disabilities are sometimes lost in the shuffle for obvious reasons. Statistics indicate higher rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues for siblings of the disabled, too. It's something most of us who extreme parent are painfully conscious of, I'd venture to say, every single moment. Those of us who parent "typical" children are often told that they will grow up to be more compassionate because of the relationship, and while I find this somewhat comforting, I subscribe more to the who the hell knows how we all turn out mode of thinking. That being said, I found Dylan's essay so profound, moving and authentic that I asked whether I could share it here. This is an extraordinary child, a sibling of another extraordinary child.
My little brother is autistic. It doesn't bother me much. He's different, but in a way, just the same. I don't ever find myself wishing he wan't who he was. I would not be myself if he was someone else. My parents say they were devastated when they were told that he was autistic. I most likely wondered why they were crying. What about this was bad? Of course, I was too young to understand. I didn't notice he acted somewhat different than others until I got older. One way I could tell was because some people stared at him, or gave him strange, sometimes rude looks, and some people still do. Not many understand. Luckily, my friends have accepted his differences, and are able to have nice conversations with him, despite his disabilities.
We like to play together, my brother and I. Sometimes tag, hop-scotch, hide-and-go-seek, or any game that siblings enjoy. We have a great time. It is within these moments that I realize: he is not at all different from anybody else in the world. There are many stereotypes that claim that anybody who is different is bad. Back in ancient Greece, the government would leave children who were weak or different out far away to die. It is not only wrong that different is bad, but the way they are using the word "different" is wrong, too. Technically, nobody is exactly the same. There is no "normal" human being. Everyone is different.
There are some things about him that annoy me, some things that make me laugh my guts out, and some things that just blow my mind away. It's annoying when he throws tantrums (which is rather often), and when he hums and moans for no reason. Well, maybe, there is a reason, just one that none of us know of or think is particularly important. It's also not that pleasant when he breaks things. I feel like he only ruins my stuff, but I'm sure I'm wrong. And when he pauses and rewinds movies when I'm trying to watch. But, it is very funny when he sometimes says sentences or words incorrectly. "Come for here," or "I was born until 2005." "Yesterday, for longer time ago," means a while ago, or sometime in the past. Every once-in-a-while, he'll say to us, "What the fu-heck?" He used to call the ocean the "ochin", and tells my pregnant aunt, "You have a full tummy." His enthusiasm is hilarious, too. It's like putting a thousand exclamation marks after a sentence. Even though it makes me angry, it cracks me up when he scolds me. "If you don't do homework, you get no [devices], Dyl-wan." I keep telling him he's not in charge, but I don't think he will ever stop scolding me. His memory is amazing. He can easily memorize addresses. If he ever doesn't remember, he'll ask, "What's that's number for?" Dates are also very easy for him to remember. His drawing skills are definitely incredible.
If a cure for autism was ever created, I would refuse our offer. My brother is the best brother anyone could ever ask for. I would never change him for the world, but I know I will change the world for him.
If you would like to join us on walk day, please click the link below and search for Team Bachman: