During my lunch break on Monday, I got an email from the local siblings program in DC. In the email was an article written for the sibling without a disability. Here is the: Letter to the typical siblings I didn't have the heart to read it during my lunch break because I knew there would be tears involved, but it got me thinking on my way home.
I will admit I have thought about what life would be like without having a brother with Autism. Thinking that I would probably still be a journalism/communications major and probably having a boring life without all these life lessons. I wouldn't have gotten to go many new places and meet people from all over the country, but who really knows what I would be doing if I didn't have a sibling with a disability.
If I didn't have a brother with a disability, I wouldn't have met a lot of people who have impacted my life, gone to school to work with people with disabilities, gotten a job working with people with disabilities, taken my first plane ride to watch my brother play in a different country and had many life lessons that not many people get. My brother has taught me a lot in his 20 years of life that will always be with me. He has taught me to be patient, to laugh a lot and appreciate the little things in life.
I am fortunate to have two younger siblings. As the oldest and finding out you have a brother with a disability is hard. Don't get me wrong. There's no book that anyone could give you to tell you what you need to know because trust me every person is different. Being the first child I never really had another sibling who was in the same situation as me. Nobody to tell me, "Your brother is different, but that doesn't mean that he can't do the same things as you." I thought I was alone, but I've came to realize I'm not. I recently joined the DC Sibs, the communications committee for the Siblings Leadership Network and I am working with a lady to get a statewide siblings support group in the state of Virginia.
My brother didn't start talking until he was 8 years old. My brother was a runner. He once got our front door unlocked and ran outside when we had a babysitter. If he didn't trip and start laughing we'd probably would not have caught him. I guess he wanted to keep life interesting for us.
Next year, my brother is graduating high school. When he was little he would always sit at the table for hours crying because he didn't want to read and do his homework. Now if he has any homework he would do it right when he came home and he loves school.
People make it seem like having a family member with a disability is a bad thing. Yes, sometimes it's bad with health issues and other things, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. My brother has taught me more than any book could.
Yes, my brother has Autism but I don't see it that way. His disability does not define him. My brother can play sports, he can have a conversation with you, he can make food and he can make you see that even though he has a disability he can still do things that a typical person can do. Whenever I need someone to lift my spirits up he would be the person to call. At the end of his phone calls he goes, "Okay. Gotta Go. Love you too." and then hang up before you could even say anything back, but it's the little things that mean the most.
We're just typical siblings in many ways. We have a sibling rivalry in sports, we help each other out, we drive each other crazy sometimes but in the end we're still siblings. We would do anything for each other.
In the end I would never trade my brother for a typical brother. He's what keeps life interesting. So, thanks Scott for being you.