The Mighty Logo

I’m no autism expert.

Who I am is a sister, daughter and mom of autism, which makes me something of an autism student.

Our home was uniquely balanced. There were eight kids — four girls and four boys. The four boys all have a range of disabilities. Us girls became mom’s right-hand ladies: babysitters, walkers-to-school, sharers-of-chores and all around brother-helpers.

Yes, our home was uniquely balanced. It was also beautifully unique.

Most of our neighbors never liked us for long. We challenged them to change, to open their minds. My mom never allowed my brothers to be treated as little disabled boys. She believed in them and treated them as boys who were uniquely challenged to learn skills. She knew those skills could be learned if the world would allow for unique answers. This, coupled with the different places my brothers landed on the spectrum, often looked wild and weird to outsiders. (Also, the neighbors weren’t fond of us teenage girls having noisy parties when mom worked. Oops!)

So, siblings, hear me when I say, I get it. We’re put in a unique position, and we don’t always like it. We’re sometimes looked at with pity and distaste and expectations, and we don’t always like it. But please also hear me when I say, We’re the lucky ones. We’re put in a unique position.

Helping my mom teach my brothers has made me a better person, a better daughter, a better sister and a better mom. I learned to see ability where others see none. I learned to follow clues and symptoms to find actionable answers. I learned to feel the love returned where others might fear it’s lacking.

And now that we’re all fully grown, I have four fantastic friends in my brothers. Yes, they sometimes annoy me, as I’m sure I annoy them. Yes, they sometimes seem like work to me, as I’m sure I seem like work to them. We’re siblings. That’s what we do.

Because of each other, we’re better, happier and more successful. Siblings have a unique opportunity to connect with someone who truly knows them and who truly loves them for who they are and who they’ve been.

No matter who you are or who your sibling is, don’t let that opportunity slip away. You may not become best friends in the end, but you can always be best siblings.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Family photo! 001

This post originally appeared on Autism Answers With Tsara Shelton.

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.

Conversations 4