Personal story about siblings and Autism, an Autism Spectrum Disorder


Sammy runs through the house in nothing but his underpants. On a typical day, this would not be unusual and Mallory would be unconcerned. But today is not typical. Today is the day Robert is coming to pick her up for her first prom. Robert knows Sammy has a disability but no one outside the family knows all the things that go on in this house. Mallory has worked hard to keep it that way. She loves her brother and does so many things for him but she just can't handle it all today!


Mallory is one of the thousands of siblings of children with Autism who have had to grow up faster, become so much more responsible, and had to deal with things that their peers cannot even imagine. She doesn't seek sympathy or special privileges, just a touch of normality. Normality has been lacking in her life since she was born. Sammy was born first and Mallory followed 18 months later. It was about the time that Mallory was born that her parents started to notice that something was wrong with Sammy.


At first, Sammy took Mallory under his wing but it was not long before Mallory surpassed him in so many ways. Mallory became the eldest, the teacher, the babysitter, the responsible one, the "other angel." She never resented the attention Sammy got ("that would be so unfair") but she sought normality and loved to spend time at her friends' houses where she saw whole families of normal children who never did the things that Sammy did. So, she waits for Robert to come, vowing to be out the door before he gets to the first step.


Sammy comes up behind her (Mom has dressed him, thankfully) and he plays with her hair lovingly as he says, "Malz has a boyfriend!" Her heart melts, as it has so many times before, and she says, "Yeah, and my boyfriend is gonna think you are the handsomest big brother in the world! He'll be here any minute!" So they both wait for Robert to come and meet one of the strangest families in the world. Welcome to the world of Autism, Robert!


The story above is only semi-fictional. When I visit this family, my heart constantly goes out to the child with Autism, that's my chosen profession, but as I look around at the siblings and see their struggles up close, I realize that Autism is a "family disorder" too. I have no great wisdom of my own to share except to say that the Lord knows Autism and He knows the struggles that parents and siblings of those with Autism go through and He will help. Thankfully, the Lord has led many people to share their wisdom about the struggles the siblings go through.


by Gary J. Heffner, creator of The Autism Home Page at MSN Groups.


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Siblings can be a great support for children on the autism spectrum when they understand the disorder and react accordingly