THE OTHER ANGELS - SIBLINGS AND AUTISM
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
The story above is only semi-fictional. When I
visit this family, my heart constantly goes out to the child with
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.
Click here for the full range of Asperger's and autism fact sheets and personal stories
Click here to read the
Impact of autism on brothers and sisters fact sheet
Visit http://groups.msn.com/TheAutismHomePage/environmental.msnw which is the autism home page of Gary Heffner, the author of this
article. This personal story remains under his copyright and is
used with his permission. You are encouraged to visit his site as
it is one of the few autism websites offering free comprehensive