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8 things I've learned having a brother with autism

This post is by 18-year-old Seana Wheeler, a loving sibling to her brother with ASD. Seana aspires to raise more awareness through her writing and hopes to advocate for autism further in the future.


BEING MORE THAN A SIBLING

At times, I have felt more of mother to my brother than a sister. I have felt protective of him so fiercely it defies any other sibling relationship I've seen. Our bond is strong and unbreakable. I cannot for a moment imagine my life without him. He has taught me more about myself than anyone ever has and for that I thank God for bringing him into my life.

LOVE, HATE AND LAUGH

Laughter in most eventualities regarding autism is what helps ease the hardship that comes with it. After all, laughter is one of life’s greatest medicines (apart from the occasional tub of Ben & Jerry's).

Days will contain moments of loving the person your sibling is and others with hate for the way autism has affected them. You are not angry with them. You will understand the meaning of this, if you do not already, soon.

HELPING MY PARENTS

I have seen the stress my brother’s autism has had on my parents. I have wished I could do more to ease their worries. The simple truth is that there isn't anymore I can do for them or my brother, but offer as much support and love as I can.

THE FUTURE

Comprehending the future is a concept I find to be the most daunting of all worries in my life. I worry what will happen for the two of us. A worry I feel more so in the past two years since my mother being diagnosed with cancer in 2015. I do not say this for pity, more so as a simple truth. It is a blunt delivery of my situation but it is a truthful one.

Ethan is the gentlest human on this earth. He encompasses innocence and gentility all into one. He is a better version of myself and possesses qualities that I believe everyone should take example from.

Yet, as an 18 year old woman I have felt the strain on what the future may hold for us. I feel the weight of the constant worry for the future every single day. The weight on my shoulders is an overwhelming feeling that is difficult to justify into words. I am sure any sibling of a person with autism can relate to this. 

SELFISHNESS

I have always felt selfish for the way I sometimes perceive my circumstances. I feel selfish that, possibly I am not appreciative of the incredible family God has blessed me with and the invaluable lessons my brother has taught me. I find myself wishing, at times that I could be a better daughter in the moments where I feel anger or sadness.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL

Although I personally feel at times that I am being selfish in these moments, it is still of utmost importance to let yourself feel the weight of your situation in all its painful glory. It will hurt to feel it... but you need to. You need to endure the emotions that run through you in these moments in order to better understand yourself.

People will always act as though they understand. This may irritate you but you have to accept this and move on. People often don’t know what to say because they cannot comprehend the hardships you may be dealing with. 

ANXIETY

Anxiety also becomes one of your friends. It is normal to feel anxious about the future and present. It is even more normal to feel anxious around your sibling with autism. I have always suffered with the anxiety of the future of Ethan and myself. As I know for a fact my parents do also. When you love a person the way I love Ethan anxiety is a natural string to its bow.

YOUR FAMILY ISN'T PERFECT BUT THEY ARE YOURS

My family will always have its ups and downs. We get through the down times with laughter and support. We laugh at the things probably no one else would find funny. It helps us to move on and most importantly carry on. Any situation can be lightened with laughter and kindness to one another.

No family is perfect.

This is the simple fact of the matter.

Your family is yours.

They are your gift to have. Even in all the forms they take, all the valuable lessons they will teach you.

As I know mine are and always will be.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with autism and you are in need of support, please see our  Family Support Tool Kits

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.