Why Growing Up With An Autistic Sibling Is The Best Gift, Life Can Give To You.

It would be a lie to say that growing up with an autistic sibling was easy. Our family’s life revolved around Jack’s needs and routine. There were times when I wanted the ground to swallow me whole, especially when Jack would have a tantrum in the supermarket aisle (he was 14).

Jack was diagnosed with autism when he was four years old, and as you can imagine, this was news that devastated our whole family.

One in 68 people are born with autism and it is one of the most complex mental disorders on this planet. Every person who you will meet with autism, will be different to the next. The autism spectrum is so vast, that one person with autism could be the next Einstein and the next person, might not know how to even communicate.

Jack couldn’t speak until he was five years old. His speech slowly developed because of the constant speech therapy that we implemented in his life. We still to this day continue with therapy to keep Jack stimulated. Although Jack (now 22), can communicate basic things, he still struggles with every day life. He doesn’t understand the concept of money, nor will he ever be able to learn to drive a car. All the things that we take for granted, and we, as a family, can only dream for him to have.

Having an autistic sibling has been difficult over the years, but the one thing that I learnt from an early age, was that Jack taught me to value life. As cliche as it might sound, having a sibling with special needs has been a gift in itself. I would’t change Jack for the world. I love him, for who he is.

Here are some reasons why growing up with an autistic sibling is the best life lesson:

Only Pigs Are Ignorant

There have been plenty of times that I’ve had to hold my tongue when people have called Jack a ‘retard’, not knowing that he is in fact, autistic. I feel sorry for people who are born in this world and grow up to be so unaware of other people.

If anyone is to be mentally disabled it’s the people who cannot accept those with special needs.

I am grateful to be the open-minded and empathetic person that I am. I never judge anyone, purely because you never know the difficulties that they themselves, or their loved ones, are going through.

Independent Woman

Despite growing up with a sibling, it actually felt like I was an only child in my early years. Jack never wanted to interact or play, not because he didn’t want to, but because he couldn’t. This made me more independent and imaginative as a child, which thankfully, has worked out pretty well in my adult years. My whole job is based around creating ideas and sometimes working on my own.

Of course, having an autistic sibling also meant that you needed to have the patience of a saint. Your life revolves purely around their routine and although this was difficult to accept when growing up, I am so grateful now, because it has made me the laid back and independent person that I am.

An appreciation for parenting

People say having kids is hard, but imagine having a child with a disability! I remember at the age of 7 realising how bloody difficult parenting was, because to some extent, I mothered Jack! Looking after my brother 24/7 was something I had to accept from an early age. Jack will always be my responsibility, even when I have my own children!

Not giving a f***

As you may know from previous blog posts, I don’t give a f*** what anyone thinks about me. I have to say, this is partly to do with Jack’s life mission statement: Ignorance Is Bliss

Jack doesn’t know he’s autistic and that’s the great thing about him. He just does what he wants and says how he feels – even if it’s socially awkward. One time, we were in the supermarket and the cashier serving us had major facial hair. Almost beard -length. She turned to Jack and asked him if he was having a nice day, in which he replied, “Yes Mrs Wolf!”

Jack also used to love lifting his shirt up, to show his round stomach to the people he had just met.

He’s hilarious and he knows it. If people have a problem with him, then that’s their problem!

I’m so thankful to have someone like Jack in my life, who can teach me and plenty of others how to appreciate and live the one life that we have.

I am running the 2016 London Marathon for the National Autistic Society. My target is to raise £500 which will help towards supporting those with autism and their families. 

Thank you xx

https://nas-london-marathon-2016.everydayhero.com/uk/stina

5 thoughts

  1. So I’ve never left a reply on anything before but I just randomly stumbled across this and I loved it; I’m 15 and I have an autistic sibling and it’s really hard for me to deal with even though I love my brother of course. I related to all of the things you’ve said (although thankfully most people besides strangers who give mean looks are really nice and understanding about him, maybe because of where I live?) Even though I love him it can sometimes be hard to see the positives myself so thank you for pointing all of them out 🙂

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  2. Your post is amazing! As the parent of a young man with autism, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments regarding empathy. I wish that more people just took a second before jumping to conclusions when they see “unusual” behaviors from our children, brothers, or sisters, out in the community. Thank you very much for your part in raising awareness. Your brother is very lucky to have such a wonderful family!

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  3. I love this post! You seem like such a kind, awesome human. Im 21, the youngest of my siblings. My oldest sister is 25 and has a Primary Language Disorder. Her whole life she has struggled with language and communication issues, not dissimilar from autism. She didn’t learn to talk until she was 7. I am her best friend. She has no friends outside the family. Our household function, like yours, revolves around supporting her, and my childhood was super disrupted. But I wouldn’t change a thing.. What I wish I could change is how people treated her. It breaks my heart over and over, seeing disrespectful ignorance mindlessly and persistently thrown about. The mishandling of another’s soul! 😦
    I thank my sister for perspective, because I don’t think I would be who I am without her in my life. There is no such thing as a normal family. I love mine to bits. 🙂 x

    Love, from a fellow Londoner.

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    1. Hannah! Thank you so much for your lovely message! I think you’ve summed it up perfectly – without our siblings we wouldn’t be who we are! When people say “I’m sorry you have an autistic sibling!” I’m like – why? I wouldn’t change jack for the world!!!
      You are a star and I hope you know that xxxxx

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  4. I’m posting a link to your blog on a Facebook group I belong to: Autistics Worldwide. I think many of the members there will find it inspirational. The group is made up of people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, a lot of whom struggle with anxiety and depression in addition to the difficulties they face because of being on the autistic spectrum. I’m a so-called neurotypical mother who has a young daughter with Asperger’s syndrome.

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