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My brother has autism, this is what it feels like to be his sister

This is post by Lulu Mann, age nine. Lulu's brother has autism. The post originally appeared on the lifestyle platform WOLF + FRIENDS here.

The Look

The look is something that all people like me see, all the time. The look is not pleasant, not at all. People with autism are...different. People with sensory issues are different. Everybody knows that. They are different. Not weird, not awkward, different.

No one, not even me, could say they are normal, and that’s the truth, but we can’t look at them like they are weird, or awkward because that can hurt people, and I'm going to tell you why, and also the different types of looks.

One type of look that people do is the look that people make when they try to look sorry for you. This look hurts people because it makes people feel bad. This look is mostly towards the family, and often seen at an airport, a zoo, a beach, or other public places. People feel bad when they see this look because they feel like people are feeling sorry for them because they are a weird family when they are not. Their family is different, yes, but so is yours. But people don’t feel sorry for you because your family is different, do they? This is why you shouldn’t feel sorry for people with special needs family members.

“People with special needs are not awkward. They’re not weird, not gross, uncool. People with special needs are different.”

Another type of look is where people look to see what’s happening, and then look away, thinking that they weren’t seen. The thing is, this look is very noticeable. People often make this look without realizing it, because it is kind of a reflex to look over if you hear a noise. You should definitely avoid making this look, even though it is hard because it is hurtful to people because they realize they are causing a commotion. This look is mostly found in public places with lots of people, such as the mall, the airport, or the grocery store.

Another type of look is the snobby look. When people make this look it’s showing that they think because someone has special needs, or is in a family with someone with special needs, that they are above them, and cooler. This look can be very hurtful because it can make people feel odd, and out of place compared to other people when really there is nothing odd about them, they are just different. According to my dad, people in families with special needs people are the chosen ones, and I think that really, there are benefits of being in a family with someone that has special needs because you get excuses, special treatments, and sometimes even lower prices! Take that snob!

Another type of look is the grossed out look. The people that make this look don’t think before they do things. They only think of themselves and making themselves look good. People make this look when they are close to someone with special needs, at somewhere like a playground, or a public pool. They usually move away when they do this look. This can make siblings of the person with special needs that are around their sister or brother feel like the person that made that look moved away because of them, and sometimes people (including me) feel like they’re weird too, just because their siblings are different. 

This isn’t a look, but it’s something that can make people really sad. Sometimes you lose a friend because they think your sibling is weird, which makes them think you’re weird. This makes people unimaginably sad, and sometimes people misunderstand autism, and other special needs, thinking that because you're related to someone different, you are someone like that. People often make the look without knowing, so after reading this, you should remember not to do the look, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and to think before you do things. And always remember, people with special needs are not awkward. They're not weird, not gross, uncool. People with special needs are different.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.