By Clara H
Before I began, I want to share how awesome my brother is so the information shared will make more sense. My brother is a person who has a significant impact on why my story is the way it is. Who I am, has an effect on him as well, but you already know a lot about me, so I don't need to explain all that.
He is pretty much the polar opposite of me. People will forget that we are even related. He does not enjoy writing, but he loves performing arts, gaming, and playing tennis. He's best known for his incredible talent for making people laugh.
If you read the title, you might be wondering why exactly I am jealous of him. Let me tell you; it's his ability to socialize. The skills he has in the area he is the ones I can only dream of having myself.
This isn't recent that has been going on. It's been that way forever. I've always watched and wondered how he is doing it on earth. It's almost like he flicks a switch and everyone comes over to talk to him. He seems always to know what to say to make people feel good.
I am not that way at all, not naturally anyway. Most of the conversations I have are a big mess of confusion. I misunderstand things, and others misinterpret what I am trying to say. He's in the center of the room, and I get shoved in the corner; he creates the parties, and I unintentionally end them.
Conversations are something that I've struggled with all my life. Every day I live in fear from knowing that I could accidentally offend somebody at any given moment, or they could anciently offend me. That's where my social anxiety comes in.
I know that everyone can have these problems when having a conversation. As for me, as someone who has a diagnosis claiming that these things are challenging. It just shows you how difficult I have it when trying to socializing than most people in the world.
I think that miscommunication is the most common when it comes to siblings. I've seen it everywhere. In restaurants, on television, around the neighborhood, in schools, parks, grocery stores, you name it. Arguments between brother and sister, sister and sister, and brother and brother are something that the world knows is happening. It's no secret.
Imagine if one of the siblings is on the spectrum. As in, they have a communication disability. Their brain makes it, so they already suffer from constant miscommunications. The disagreements I have with my brother are a place where disability challenges always take over.
My brother was told I had autism before I was able to figure it out. He was nine, I believe. Looking back, it seemed like he thought of autism as a bad thing. During the altercations we would have, he would throw the r-word and "brain damage" around. I would get offended, as so would most people. I didn't understand why he was saying those things.
I later found out that those terms were not just things he called me to my face. I remember one day, I was in my fifth-grade class, that topic somehow came up. I told a group of people that my brother thought I had brain damage. A bunch of students responded, saying that he had said to them that before. They then go on to claim that they did not believe him.
I never did approach my brother about that conversation I had at school. As long as the other kids didn't think it was truthful, I was okay with it.
Looking back on it today, I know he had good intentions. He was a child at the time and didn't know what those words meant. This story has no intention to bring shame to him. He has always had a big heart.
Not long after I found out that I was autistic, I began to unmask. This means that I felt comfortable showing my true self and no longer had the need to blend in with the rest of society. My brother did not understand what was going on. He assumed I was pretending so I could get attention.
I don't blame him for thinking that. It would be odd, especially for someone who grew up knowing me before bringing out my "hidden identity." He probably felt like his life was a lie. For years he didn't know what kind of person his sister really was.
I am still his sister, no matter what. I am still the same person as I was yesterday. I do grow every day, but it can be a big mess of confusion when a person changes quickly.
It's evident to me that he did not get a clear understanding of what autism was. More specifically, how it looked in me, his sister. That's the message I hope people will take away from these stories I'm telling you. If a child gets the wrong idea of who their sibling is, it can transform their entire relationship into something you don't want.
The number one advice I give to parents educating their children on their sibling's autism is to help them develop a clear understanding of what exactly it is. Talk to them about how it looks in their life and not just in anyone's life. Autism is different for everyone.
Don't just say, "she has autism, which affects her ability to communicate." Tell them how it does so.
Please explain what the difference is between them (an NT person) and their autistic sibling.
Teach them how to help.
If their sibling was just diagnosed, discuss what changes will be happening to help them.
Let them ask questions along the way.
Make sure they know that autism does not make them any less of a person.
I will have you know that my brother is one of my best friends. He was able to get a better grip on autism. While our parents are away, he helps me out when I am struggling and can better explain to his friends his about sister's disability. Yes, we still have difficult times, but we can always turn things back around. He sees me beyond my autism, and that's what matters most.
As I always say, I do not know what everyone is going through. What went well and didn't go well for me doesn't always mean that it will be the same for you. Please, do not worry if my suggestions don't go the way you expect. There is more than one technique. Remember to have hope.
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