A few years ago Twitter exploded with thousands of tweets under the hashtag #youmightbeanautismparentif. Parents reflected, joked and commiserated about the ups and downs of raising a child with autism. Tweets ran the gamut from inspirational to humorous. Parents still regularly share all kinds of anecdotal stories. What about the stories that only siblings can really understand? Don’t they need a hashtag? Well, sibs, here you go.
1. You’d rather hang out with friends anywhere but your house because your sibling’s flapping, spinning, and meltdowns are embarrassing and hard to explain.
2. If friends do come over, they think an indoor swing is totally awesome. Because autism and sensory processing disorders seem to go hand in hand, you get to have some pretty cool stuff at your house, like that swing, or mini-bounce house, or trampoline for your brother’s sensory breaks.
3. Your sibling doesn’t tell on you. If your brother is non-verbal, he may not be able to tell on you when you take something from him. Even if he has language skills, maybe he can’t find the right words to articulate his thoughts.
4. You quickly learn how to defend yourself. If your sibling is aggressive, it’s not uncommon to get hit, kicked or have your hair pulled – and sometimes all of the above.
5. You quickly learn how to defend others. Not that we needed a study to tell us, but kids on the spectrum are more likely to be teased or bullied than their typically developing peers. Siblings are often the first to stick up for a brother or sister.
6. As hard as it is to admit it, you see how normal can be boring. In the right environment, “unusual behavior” such as ripping a book because it has the word Einstein in it (and for some unknown reason your brother hates that word) is funny – unless it’s your book.
7. You have a built-in scapegoat. Whenever your sibling is around, there will always be someone to blame for your farts and – if you are inconspicuous enough – burps, too.
9. You know a lot. Whether you like it or not, you know all the names of the stops along the Chicago subway’s Red Line – and you don’t even live in Chicago. If your brother has something that really interests him, chances are he knows a lot about that topic and talks about it constantly.
10. You feel like your sibling gets all the attention because so much of your parents’ time and energy is focused on your brother, and often it is.
11. Despite your sibling’s challenges, on most days you love him with all your heart.