As a sibling of a person with autism, I can deeply relate to this article. It is basically living with another sibling, but comes with its own challenges, depending on every sibling and their relationships. In Michelle Byamugisha’s case, I can see myself in her shoes, and I found many similarities between her brother, Mark B, and my own older sister, who also has autism. For example, something I found interesting is that Michelle’s brother prefers to be called Mark B, while my sister likes to call many people that way, or by both their first name and last name, but for fun.
Just as the article emphasizes, every child with autism is different. My sister was nonverbal at an age that was typical for toddlers to begin speaking. As a result, she went to speech therapy, and was guided wonderfully by my mom. Now, she talks all the time and is extremely social. Although she may have difficulties picking up social cues such as a person’s desire to end the conversation or their comfort level, she is energetic, affectionate, and truly loves talking to others. I agree with Michelle; I believe being a sister to a person with autism has overall made me a much more patient, mature, and understanding person. Oftentimes, a lack of education is a source of bullying, therefore, without being exposed to a certain situation, it is much harder to understand or learn from other perspectives.
Just like Michelle, I have another sibling who helps take care of my oldest sister. As with all siblings, we have our disagreements and fights, sometimes with my sister taking her anger out on us and resorting to violence to express her emotions, but she has made substantial progress in learning to control herself. Still, she tells me that she loves my other sister and I, and misses us when there’s a gap in time that we don’t see her. Just as some of the other siblings mentioned I’m the article, caring for a sibling with autism may involve staying at home more or commitments to activities with them, but the time spent as siblings provide more space for growth and maturity. Even with occasional frustrations and feelings of pressure, it is up to the strength and resilience of the siblings to be able to cooperate, and makes them both stronger as a result of maintaining healthy relationships.
EP Blue Birds does not own this photo.
2nd photo: Rachel Copper and Lena Copper