Creating meaningful opportunities that enrich the lives of people with autism, their families and their communities.

Autism and Me

10 kids describe
what life is like
living with a brother
or sister who is on
the Autism Spectrum

Stephanie Morales

My name is Stephanie Morales and I am a 13 year old student at M.S.T. I have a 6 year old brother who has been diagnosed with autism. I also have a 9 year old cousin that was also diagnosed with autism. My brother was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old. Here are some helpful things that I think everyone should know about children with autism.

  • We have to be aware of body language, withdrawal, agitation, or other signs that show something is wrong or when they are having problems interacting with others. If they don’t know how to communicate through words.
  • You really need to have a lot of patience with them.
  • You can’t give up on them when you are trying to teach them something. If you do they are going to think or feel like, “why should I try.”
  • You have to focus on one thing at a time and build on what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.
  • Try to find out what causes their meltdowns so you can prevent them from happening again.

To me, autism isn’t a disability, rather an ability to view things in a different way. If it wasn’t for my brother and cousin who were diagnosed with autism, and having the hands on experience of dealing with them and their issues, it has opened my eyes to seeing that they really need people that understand them and their needs. It has encouraged me to want to become a therapist for special needs children. The type of therapist I would like to become is an O.T. or a Speech Therapist. I used to go with my brother to speech therapy to see how they worked with him so that I would know how I could also help him at home. Some of the challenges that children with autism have to deal with are: communicating with others, sensory problems, behavior problems, and interacting with others. I think that this project was a great idea since April is Autism Awareness month. This gives me the opportunity to spread awareness.

“Sometimes he squeezes my
cheeks because he loves me and because of his sensory need.”

Damien Platt

This is my life growing up with my brother who has autism. When you have an autistic brother or sister there are good parts and bad parts. Sometimes he squeezes my cheeks because he loves me and because of his sensory need. He will sometimes complain until he gets his way.  At certain times, I feel he gets all the attention. I love him very much though. I love that he is very fun and playful. Kids in school think he is my little brother, but he’s my older brother. Kids at school also say he is pathetic and he was born stupid. I say he was not born stupid and he is very smart. I think he is smart at learning because he has a great memory. His memory is so good that he can remember the way to my grandmas and she lives 45 minutes away.

In conclusion, sometimes it is hard having a brother that is autistic, but I would never trade him for the world because he is my big brother.

Madelynn Stearns

My brother has autism. He is cute, funny and nice. One thing that I’ll never do is change my brother because I love him. The good thing about him is he is still my brother. Challenges about him is he can’t tell me what he wants and I can’t understand him. But we go to the playground, we go to the swings, we run around and we go on slides. Every day is amazing to see him talk. And I am proud to be Peter’s sister.

And he is the best brother in the world. He is amazing.

Chelsea Meade

My sister, Jessica Meade, has autism. Sometimes she’s funny and sometimes she’s annoying in a funny way. Either way, I love her because she is my sister.

The time I found out my sister had autism is the time I found out that I was a girl. I learned a little about autism when I was younger. I thought I had an advantage against Jessica. When I was seven, I use to sneak up and jump on her back expecting her to carry me like a piggy-back ride. Every time I did this though, Jessica would just turn around and shake me off and say, “uh buh” which is translated as “get the heck off me sister!” I would always laugh. This was one of the my favorite things to do to Jessica. Jessica has a voice but her brain doesn’t allow her to speak. Every time she tries to say something, “uh buh” is the main thing that comes out. Jessica knows a little bit of sign language though and just because she can’t talk, doesn’t mean she can’t understand every word you say.

As I got older, I became very moody. I never seemed to pay attention to Jessica that often. I just wasn’t happy. Jessica never cheered me up then. I didn’t expect her to. It wasn’t her fault that I was unhappy. One thing I hated was when regular people would stare at us when we were in public. It is annoying how some people don’t know about autism and other disabilities. It just gets on my nerves how people just stare. I’ve tried to explain it to some people, but they either say, “I don’t get it”, or “These people scare me”. This was a really big challenge of mine that always made me upset about Jessica.

When I turned thirteen, I realized that I shouldn’t care what people think about my sister. It’s not her fault she’s autistic. She can’t help it. Over the years, I have learned to love my sister and accept her for who she is because she is a part of the family and every person counts.

Jack Mansour

My brother Matt and I are thirteen months apart, so we have always been very close to each other. For twelve years, we shared a room and we act like typical brothers. We like to swim together at my grandparent’s pool and we run on the beach.

We are not typical though because Matt has autism. Sometimes I get embarrassed when we are out in public and he “freaks out.” For instance, last Spring, we went as a family to the Buffalo Museum of Science and Matt was in a good mood, so we decided to go to a restaurant that we normally go to for lunch. However, it was a rainy day, and Matt’s socks got wet. For a typical person, this would be fine, but for Matt it was aggravating. As we walked into the restaurant, I remember him lying on the floor and screaming. As my parents tried to help him, I felt like everybody was staring. When I got home, I went on my bed and cried and my parent cried too, but my parents told me not to worry and that people understand. Sometimes when friends come over for the first time, I am nervous about what they’ll think. Besides being embarrassed, sometimes when I am doing my homework it is hard to concentrate because Matt yells and screams. Now that I have my own room, it is not so bad. Sometimes it can be scary too, because Matt can become angry and aggressive.

Besides the difficulties of having a brother with autism, there are a lot of good things too. Matt is honest because he would not know how to lie. It is cool to watch him get excited about the simple things like going for a walk, going to the playground, the ice cream truck, or going swimming. It is cool that Matt would never make fun of anyone. Even though I am nervous at first about how my friends would react to Matt, they are all nice. They always say, “Hi Matty” and they treat him kindly.

I am lucky because I am able to realize things that other people don’t. I know that people are different and need to be treated with respect. I don’t know what the future holds for Matt, but I hope he is successful and I will always be his big brother.

“It is cool to watch him get excited about the simple things like going for a walk, going to the playground, the ice cream truck, or going swimming.”

Paul Neff

Hi, my name is Paul and I have a sister with autism. In this essay I will tell you about it.

There are many advantages and disadvantages about it. The advantages are that with autism you learn to care about others. You can also make them smile or laugh when they do their favorite thing or when you tell them a joke. For example, my sister always laughs when she plays with or bounces balls. She also likes playing frisbee catch.

The disadvantages are that kids with autism get picked on more easily and that other people aren’t that nice around kids with autism. They laugh. They throw things at the other kids. Then they laugh some more. I would stand up to those kids. I would explain that (Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr.) nobody is better than another.

Would you like to be a sibling of someone with autism?

“To me, autism isn’t a disbility,
rather an ability to view things in a different way.”

Alex Valenti

My little brother Peter is a smart cookie 🙂 Peter is very smart and cute. The hard thing about Peter is trying to get the words out of him. Because he’s so cute you want to give in. But that won’t make him successful in the future. Some challenges I have found with Peter are constant talking (asking for something he wants). Some positive aspects about Peter is that he will play normally and the same way we do. Peter loves to swim in the pool so what my parents did was have a big pool put up 🙂

Mina Stollberg

Even though my brother has autism, he’s not different. He is still my brother and none can change it. Ryan is a great brother and there are good and bad things that come with living with him.

Some positive things are that we can play together. We will wrestle, play games and we laugh together. Ryan will be funny if your sad and he knows how to make you happy. Also, Ryan loves me very much and that is the best thing.

Some challenges that I’ve faced are leaving places and parties early because Ryan wants to leave. Also, I need to watch Ryan extra close in public places so he won’t get lost. Even though he is 7, he still can’t watch out for himself. Since Ryan can’t talk, I don’t know when he is hurt, feeling sad or when he is sick.

As you can see, I face many of these challenges as well as the positive things each day. But, I’m happy the way my brother is and there is not a reason why I would ever change the way he is.

“I need to watch Ryan extra close in public places so he won’t get lost.”

Matt Malinovsky

Years of 2002-2004: In my old 1 story house in Binghamton, N.Y. I am helping my brother learn in his own classroom with his occupational therapist and Judy the speech therapist. We are teaching Daniel basic things like reading and knowing what things are, but those easy tasks for us are like us running a marathon to Daniel.

It was very difficult but I didn’t give up. Many OT’s walked in the door and right out but my family never gave up. We knew Daniel could and would be able to do and to know what these things are.

July 2004: During the early days of the summer I am not out running and playing with my friends, I’m cleaning out my bedroom. I am doing this because we are moving to Lancaster, N.Y. I specifically remember saying these words, “Mom Dad why can’t Autism Services move here?” They said, “Because honey they just can’t.” In unison.

September 3rd of 2004: I am now into my house in Lancaster. I’m in my driveway with my mom, grandma and brother. I see the bus coming and I get nervous about this new day in first grade. My mom is taking pictures of me and my brother getting on the bus. My dad is not there because he’s commuting back and forth from Binghamton to Lancaster and he does so for 2 more years after this day.

Halfway through 3rd grade: I’m at the Lancaster Redskins football practice in Pee Wee league. My dads at my practice when he sees his team leader. He takes me over to him and his son Connor is there. Football practice is starting because the coach blew his whistle to signal the start of it. The next day in school I try to start a conversation with my Dad’s team leader’s son and then we hit it off! Today we are still best friends! I also made another best friend named Peter that year that I am still friends with!

Present day: Daniel is doing soooo much better. It’s still hard to keep aides in his school and find respite. He has had lots of good aides like Barry Williams. He was the best and was there the longest. He won an award for going above and beyond with my brother by taking him to my communion. That was very special for me. I also thought of Barry like an adult friend that I talk with once and awhile. Daniel can also go to public places now better than ever! He doesn’t put holes in the wall with his head anymore like he did in my room once. My family’s life and mine have changed dramatically since my sibling was diagnosed with autism. Some for better and some for worse. But it was all worth it! I hope every child with autism starts their road to shedding this disease like my brother! The end.

Caitlin Augustyn

Hi, my name is Caitlin Augustyn and I have an autistic brother name Collin. He is 14 years old and enjoys playing video games, playing with legos, watching TV and Godzilla clips on YouTube and not being annoyed. Having a brother like Collin has his ups and downs. Some good parts about it are he is very caring and loves everyone. He also helps people out; he is very enjoyable to be around (most of the time). Everyone thinks he is so cute and adorable, well now there is my point of view. Collin goes to the same school with me and all my friends ask me what is wrong with him, I mean I don’t care if they ask but it gets really annoying. He is a different kid when he is at home compared to if we are at school or at a family member’s house. At home, he doesn’t like to be bothered with; he wants to stay in his own little world and doesn’t want me in it. He doesn’t like to talk to me, but being a 12 year old sister I try my hardest to aggravate him… that is why he calls me the “evil sister-in-law”. Everyone thinks it is so cute; well let me tell you it is not.

Collin has a disease called Ashberger’s. He is very smart and he likes to watch the Discovery Channel. He can tell you about any bug or any sea animal you could think of. I love my brother, very much even though I don’t show it all the time, I really do. Collin is a good kid because he doesn’t really bother me too much; he doesn’t do the typical brother antagonizing stuff… I get sad sometimes when he does let me watch TV with him and doesn’t like to play games with anyone. The only time he will talk is at the dinner table. My mother makes us eat dinner together every night. Collin says and asks the same questions night after night, “How was your day, what did you eat for lunch” and his answer for every questions is “Fine”. I will admit that Collin can be funny but sometimes he just doesn’t get it. He has a big heart but just doesn’t know when enough is enough. He likes collecting toys too, don’t know if I mentioned that earlier. He loves all action figures, especially the ones he can watch on YouTube and then talk endlessly about their articulations (I don’t even know what that means).

I was just diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1 and Collin is really interested in it and wants to help me. He helps gives me shots and he knows if I call him he will pause his video game to come and help me out. As long as Collin doesn’t have gluten we are OK. If he does it changes his personality and he is in a different mood, it is hard to work around all this stuff but we get through it. Collin absolutely loves Donald Duck, we get to go to Disney World every other year and each time we have to see Donald. Collin’s bedroom is painted Disney blue, I think it’s pretty cool. I really do love my brother and I want him to know that. I would rather have an autistic brother than a “normal” brother any day of the week.

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