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My Brother With Autism Is a Person, Too

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My name is Freya, and my brother Dian has autism.

I see people treat Dian like he isn’t a person. They treat him awfully and talk about him as if he doesn’t hear. People are foolish to believe this, because he is very aware of everything around him. He may not react or respond immediately, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t see or hear you.

I’ve experienced encounters with people who act like they care about Dian, but they don’t treat him like a human being. They talk about him and they think it’s OK because he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t see or hear what they really mean. But I can tell you Dian is very much aware of emotions and feelings and he will know if you have bad intentions.

When I am upset, Dian gets me a tissue and tells me to dry my eyes. When I am happy, Dian smiles with me and says something funny to make me laugh. When I am angry Dian asks me “are you OK?” When I am bored, Dian asks me to go outside with him. Dian can read emotions and feelings very well; he always knows how to respond. It frustrates me that people think he doesn’t see these kind of things; they think he lives in his bubble and doesn’t see the world. He does see the world, just from a different point of view.

I understand that you can’t have the same conversation with him that you can have with another person, or you can’t give him multiple instructions or tasks to do, but that doesn’t mean he sees less or feels less or is less. Like I said, he just does things differently. People need to stop thinking he can’t do something because he has autism and start thinking he can do something, it’ll just be done differently. He is very much able to do anything he sets his mind to; trust me I’ve seen him drive a boat and digger and it being his first time on them!

It breaks my heart to see the world hurt a 9-year-old boy because he like to shake his hands, walk on his tiptoes and sometimes decides to lie down in the supermarket. We all respond differently to situations, so why is the way he does things so wrong to people? Instead of jumping up and down and shouting, he shakes his hands when he’s excited. Instead of walking flat on his feet, he prefers to walk on his tiptoes. Instead of sitting down after the shopping is done, he believes it’s wiser to take a break in the middle and lie down. When you think about it, that is actually very smart.

I wrote this piece because recently someone who I thought cared about Dian used him to upset me. It frustrated me so much that I knew I needed to put out there how wrong it is to do this. He is a person too, and he deserves to be treated like one. I know how hard it can be to understand how someone with autism functions and thinks, but the most important thing to remember is to treat them how you would want to be treated. They may express their feelings and emotions differently from you, but they still feel.

Read more at All About Autism.

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Photo by contributor.

Originally published: November 26, 2017
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