Today I have My first guest writer. I am so excited. Please help me in welcoming Lauren from Life Out Of the Nest. As she shares with us about her sister, who has autism. This article was written in honor of Light Up Blue for Autism. Which is April 2.
“She’s My Sister”
My sister is two years younger than me, 2 years in age, but the difference
mentally and physically? Well that ranges anywhere from 5 years to 15 years
difference. My sister has autism and growing up it was a childhood that was
different from the mainstream, but something I definitely don’t regret.
I grew up not knowing anything different, I figured most of my friends had
siblings who threw tantrums if something went wrong, or played in the sensory
room at therapy. I saw it as something normal, and it was only later when I
discovered what autism was, and found that my sister was “different”. And as I
matured, I took on new roles with my sister. No longer was I just the sibling
anymore, I was a 3rd caretaker, a back up for my parents. I told people I had been
changing diapers since I was 10 and its true, I know all of the foods she can’t have,
the best way to calm her down, how to get her to go to sleep, and I specialize in her
For as long as I can remember I was taking care of my sister, and this blurred
the lines between parent and sibling for me, so much so, that I felt I was responsible
for her wellbeing sometimes, felt that I needed to drop what I was doing to help her.
So many people tell me “Oh what a wonderful sister you are, taking care of her”,
“Your sister has autism? How does that work for you?” “Is it a lot of work?” And I
would simply respond she’s my sister, she’s my family. I mean, what other answer
could I possibly give? Sure it was hard sometimes, and yes it made me grow up
quickly, and yes my childhood was very different from those with “normal” siblings,
but I don’t regret it, not one bit!
From early on I knew people saw only what my sister couldn’t do: she
couldn’t walk until she was near 2 years old, she can’t talk at the level expected for a
17 year old, and her body lags developmentally behind those of her age. But while I
saw these “disabilities”, I saw her strengths too. I saw her ability to make anyone
smile, her great empathy towards others (a trait most with autism lack), her
excitement at the littlest of things, and her appreciation and love for people and
everyday interactions. She has the biggest heart I know and whenever someone asks
me who my hero is, I immediately respond with my sister. To some it may seem like
an interesting answer, but I think, “who wouldn’t want to be happy at the littlest
things in life, who wouldn’t want to inspire joy in others and feel love so deep for
others that you cry whenever they do?” Who wouldn’t want that?
So while some may say that autism is a disability, I would like to say it’s a
lens. A lens that takes away some parts of the picture or hides them shadow, but
brightens other parts of the picture. You just have to look hard enough to find the
beauty in all of it.