Siblings’ voices: ‘People don’t like my brother... I know I always will’
‘I love having a brother with autism. When I grow up I want to be a footballer and donate my money to an autism charity'
My brother’s autism will not go away. Photograph: Thinkstock
Children with a sister or brother with additional needs get to tell what life is like for them in a new book aimed at raising awareness of the impact on siblings.
There are candid, to-the-point observations in Lights, Bulbs and Action, compiled by Olive Whelan with some of the children attending the sibling-support programme Sibshop. Here is a snatch of some of the comments:
‘My life has changed a lot since my sister was diagnosed. In that first year that we were all getting used to my sister’s new way of life, my friends stopped coming over.
I was devastated that my friends would let my sister get in the way of our friendship. I was trying to think of why my sister scared them away so I asked my friend why people might not like my sister and my friend said, ‘Your sister is very aggressive sometimes.’
Since then I have tried to help my sister, and I think I have. At other times I think my sister gets all the attention but I know my mom and dad love me all the same.” Isobel (12) who has a seven-year-old sister with autism
‘I like my life even with my brother. Just because people don’t like him, I know that I always will.” Brian (10)
‘Things are different for me than my friends. I spent most of my childhood in a waiting room doing my homework, but then my teacher would shout at me for not doing it right. It was quite stressful. I got upset a lot. Every time my brother shouted, it scared me. My friends don’t really understand but most of them support me.” Amy (13) who has a 19-year-old brother with autism
‘My brother sometimes bites me when he is angry or sometimes he pinches me. My brother cannot speak. He says stuff like e i o u or eeee. I never think he’s annoying and I love playing with him. I love having a brother with autism. My brother’s autism will not go away. I will take care of him in the future. When I grow up I want to be a footballer and donate my money to an autism charity.” Shane (10) who has a younger brother with autism
‘I have to have a bolt on my bedroom door because if my brother gets in, he will mess it up. I don’t get to go out and play with my friends all the time because my brother makes a lot of noise, and they can’t come in. When he gets angry he hits me or whoever is near. It really hurts and he wouldn’t get badly punished as I would if I were to hit him. Most of the time my brother is nice. I like to sit beside him on the couch and watch TV or play rough and tumble.” George (12) whose 14-year old brother has autism.
Lights, Bulbs and Action, compiled by Olive Whelan and illustrated by John Corrigan, will be published on World Autism Day, April 2nd. For more, see autismireland.ie or call 044 937 1680.