Meet Sofia G.
Sofia G., 11
I want to be the voice for my sister when she can’t use her words to communicate exactly what she’s feeling.
Sofia was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. One of five children in a big Texas family, she has plenty of people making sure she always feels included and is encouraged to be herself. Although she struggles with expressing herself at times and has sensory challenges that impact her daily life, once she is comfortable, Sofia’s bright smile and lively personality can light up a room.
Her brother, Justin, 28, recently moved out of the family home, but still makes it a point to see his younger sister at least once a week. He wants the world to realize what he and the rest of his family already know: Sofia might have autism, but her autism doesn’t define her.
“Just because Sofia is the middle child of five, it doesn’t mean she can’t be the star of the show,” he says. “She is a ball of fun and very artistic and creative. Sure, she can be shy when meeting new people or in new environments, but over time she has become very open and loves to have fun. For me, it was hard at first trying to understand her needs as someone with autism, but our entire family has learned how to help her express herself and allow her love and light to shine bright!”
Justin says his 14-year-old sister, Myranda, is super close with Sofia and is always there to ensure her sister is being treated with kindness and respect. Separated by just three years, the sisters share a passion for arts and crafts, but their bond extends much further than that.
Learn more about Sofia, her connection with her sister and her tight-knit relationship with her family in this Q&A with her sister, Myranda:
What advice do you have for other siblings and family members with autism?
I am 14 years old and have four siblings. Three of us, including Sofia, live at home. I’ve learned that when you have someone in your house with autism, the best thing you can do is have patience. You never know how they’re going to be any day of the week - some days are better than others and some days are really tough. I think the way I really learned about autism is by living it each day with my sister. The more you understand, the more patience you’ll have.
Why is being an advocate and sharing your sister’s story so important to you?
Sadly, I know many autistic children are bullied for being different. I want to be the voice for my sister when she can’t use her words to communicate exactly what she’s feeling.
Also, since I’m starting high school in the fall and will be playing sports, I want to educate my future teammates about autism so they can interact with my sister. She is my biggest fan and always comes to cheer me on.
Were there times you saw your sister being mistreated or discriminated against?
Yes! One example was during one of my cheer competitions. Some of the other cheerleaders were making fun of her only because she was trying to hide under the bleachers. The noise was too much for her, and she was trying to find her comfort spot.
How can we create a better world for people with autism and other disabilities?
The world needs to understand that overstimulation can occur with autistic children and autistic people in general. They should never be looked down upon simply because of how they react in certain situations. I believe all restaurants and stores should have a quiet zone for children with autism so they can feel included and safe.
Can you share one or two stories that show the bond between you and your sister?
We share a love for art and love to draw and sketch. We make jewelry together and do creative things that make us happy. My sister will never conform to “normal” society,” and that’s why I love her so much. Autism is what makes Sofia unique and she’s proud of who she is. I like to say that Sofia may have autism, but autism will never have Sofia.
What is your connection to Autism Speaks?
We attend Autism Speaks Walk events and I also play in a softball event to help raise money for the organization. I am proud to support those who support people with autism like my sister.