Growing up as a kid with an autistic brother was difficult. As far as I remember, I
always had an autistic brother. Meaning I didn’t have the luxury or rather, I
wasn’t given the luxury to be dumb and carefree.
At the age of two or three, I was already looking out for my brother -who is two
years older than me. To some, this is not a problem. Advising, helping out in
some things, calming him down and any other simple little thing you can think of.
Things became more difficult when I found myself having to fend off the bullies
who were constantly disturbing my brother mentally or physically. It made me
realize it was harder than I first thought.
Autism comes in many forms. My brother is a person who had a lot of trouble
controlling his emotions and would throw a tantrum whenever he heard people
arguing. What made it worse was that his tantrums would usually be directed at
me. So I needed to have a lot of patience to be able to cope with him. Sometimes
I was trapped between the person I was protecting (my brother who was
throwing a tantrum) and the person I was protecting him from (the bullies).
That was during my primary school days. During secondary school, I lost my way
and became irritable and rather impatient when it came to my brother. I would
lose my temper if he could not understand something. I would sometimes ask
him to do something unsupervised only to come back to find something I did not
expect. This would make me upset. I was also having a hard time understanding
why my parents would let him get away with things and felt the pressure of their
higher expectations of me.
With exposure to new ideas in my university years, I came to recognise autism as
a condition where one is not able to express themselves properly or unable to
process stimuli as we do. I started to understand my brother better, realizing
that he was trying to deal with all this while facing real struggles in things that n
people could take for granted. It made me appreciate my brother more and I
became self-aware of my unfair treatment of him when I was in secondary
school.
I also came to understand that there are a lot of types of autistic individuals out
there. Despite being autistic, they each have unique behaviours and
personalities. Some are introverted, some wildly extroverted. Others could be
reserved or some are attention seekers. In more ways than many people know,
autistic people are just like us.
My brother has his own personality, and I love him very much. He has taught me
that as long as you have the patience and the will to learn something, all will be
well. He has taught me the value of appreciation and love and the importance of
tolerance. He has also opened my eyes to understanding the world from a
different point of view. Despite everything I felt like I missed out on when I was a
child, I’ve realized that I had been given the greatest gift of all – the love of a
brother that knows no boundaries, regardless of how I had treated him in the
past. That is the most beautiful thing I could ever ask for.