I appreciated your article, “Autism’s Invisible Victims: The Siblings”, by Barbara Cain. I am a mother of three children, my oldest being the keeper of the Autism diagnosis. Often I have observed both perspectives Cain expressed. There are positives, as well as truly challenging situations siblings experience in a family with an autistic child.
The beginning of this school year my middle child, Evan, tested to qualify early for Kindergarten, being just a few days too young to be automatically admitted. As he walked away for his test, I worried about all the needs my child with High Functioning Autism required of me compared to the rest of the family. I worried that Evan might have missed out on opportunities to learn even more if we had a family of all neurotypical children. I feared, of course, that I had not dedicated enough time to help Evan reach his potential.
Evan was accepted early into Kindergarten. He is in the top 5% of his class this year. He is kind and understanding, especially of his brother’s struggles. We try to educate him about the traits related to people on The Spectrum as much as possible. Autism can be stressful for all members of the family. We have been so lucky to have state support with OT and Speech therapies helping our whole family adjust. I think Autism is helping build siblings who are more prepared in life for important things our society doesn’t give much opportunity to learn: loving kindness, quick forgiveness, patience and endurance. I wouldn’t consider those skills learned at a young age to be labeled as someone who was victimized.
Liz Fuller, Mesa, AZ