5 Reasons Why I'll Proudly Be My Brother's Caregiver

On many occasions throughout my life, people have asked me about my twin brother’s disability and how I’d handle it when we grew older. I explained to them that his autism could hinder him from being able to complete many age-appropriate tasks, but my parents and I were prepared for it. He doesn’t drive a car, have his own apartment or go out for coffee with friends.

When I was 22, I told my parents I’d be willing to take the responsibility of caring for Daniel after they were no longer able to. We completed all of the paperwork and made it official over my university’s spring break last year: I became Daniel’s legal back-up guardian. I still have a lot to be educated on, especially with his finances and how to handle them smoothly. My parents were proud of me for making such a big decision at a young age. It wasn’t a huge deal to me because I thought about it for years and realized all of the reasons why it was the right thing to do.

Here are the five reasons why I’ll proudly be my brother’s caregiver years down the road:

1. My twin brother and I know more about each other than anyone knows about us. We were each others’ first friend or “womb-mates,” as I like to call it. Even though he has autism, I can read him like a book. I can tell exactly how he’s feeling just by one expression on his face, while he can do the same for me.

Our nonverbal communication works in mysterious ways. We could get a point across to one another from opposite sides of the room. If I’m laughing, he’s laughing. If I’m crying, so is he. I understand his quirks, his likes and his dislikes, and I know how to handle things when his behavior gets out of hand.

2. My twin brother and I have a solid foundation of trust. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard horror stories about people with special needs getting taken advantage of financially, emotionally and physically. As long as my brother is in my care, I can assure he will not be taken advantage of in any way. With that said, I have a difficult time trusting others when it comes to caring for him. He has the utmost trust in me as well, and building that foundation of his trust took many years.

3. He’d receive the positive social interaction I want him to have. I have a few close friends who also treat Daniel with love and respect. Those friendships have lasted because they make an effort not only to socialize with me but with him as well. On our birthday, they bring both of us meaningful gifts. He’s never left out. When we go out as a group, whether it’s to see a movie or eat at a restaurant, I take him with me. It’s such a positive experience for him because he gets out of the house and interacts with people who treat him well. I believe he really makes progress with his communication barrier after spending a frequent night out.

4. He’ll never have to feel uncomfortable. When he eventually lives with me, he can live how he wants with little restriction. He’s an adult, and I want him to feel a sense of autonomy and independence. If he wants to prance around the house dressed like Indiana Jones or a superhero, that’s not a problem for me. He’s also used to being able to have a snack and play on his iPad when he wants to at home; many living facilities may not let him do so, and that’s something that could set his behavior off. Most importantly, he’ll have a place to feel safe.

5. It’s what my parents would want. My parents know how close my brother and I are. Far into the future, they’d be happy their children are looking out for one another. My brother and I give each other pure joy. All my parents have ever wanted was for us to be there for each other.

The Mighty wants to hear more about relationships and special needs parenting. Can you share a moment on your special needs journey that strengthened your relationship? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

How Searching for a Special Needs School Brought Me Closer to My Husband

All marriages have ups and downs, and adding children can intensify whatever strengths or weaknesses already exist. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, this intensity can make a marriage stronger.  For my husband and me, raising a child with a disability (in our case, high-functioning autism spectrum disorder), brought out differences in our parenting styles, fast. [...]

To All Parents of Children With Autism Who Haven't Taken a Break Today

As parents of children with autism, we’re responsible for a lot. I’m not saying all parents are not responsible for a lot, because they are too. All parents have the responsibility for caring for a little human life. That’s a big responsibility. But my fellow autism parents know that caring for a child with autism [...]
Melissa's daughter

When Strangers Heard My Kid Scream Led Zeppelin in the Grocery Store

Although my daughter Zoey is considered nonverbal, music has helped her find her voice. This child can sing! But not all her songs are pretty ballads or catchy lullabies. Sometimes she sings in a high-pitched angry scream that sounds very much like a Led Zeppelin song. Yesterday was that Zeppelin song. While we were at [...]

Why We Don't Need to Understand My Nonverbal Nephew

My nephew is 10 years old and of average height for his age. When he walks, it’s slow and unsteady. Looking at his waistline, it’s clear there’s some “stuff” going on: gastric/umbilical hernia in need of fixing (again) and an insulin pump on his waist pumping life-saving fluid into his body. Looking further down, pronounced [...]