I’ve recently started working with adults with Autism. I mainly work with those like my brother who are nonverbal and not very independent. However, there are some individuals at this facility who are highly independent, hold jobs, and can communicate. Will Sammy ever get there? Or will he be like the clients I work with?
When working with one of my more severe clients and trying to assess his abilities – I realized, he was like a “giant toddler.” No disrespect obviously – but that was the level that he is on. Right now, you could even compare Sammy to a tall toddler. This scares me. Will he still be considered at a “toddler-like level” at the age of 25? Will he ever hold a job? Will he ever be toilet trained? Will he ever get himself dressed? Will he ever be verbal? Will he be able to communicate more than “I want…?” Will he ever be able to get himself dressed? Take a shower? Prepare a meal?
As much as I love my job and working with these individuals, it kills me to think that this could one day be Sammy. Where is the cure? Why are there so many people with Autism still non verbal, still dependent on someone, still totally lost in their own world after the age of 21? Or even the age of 18…12…7?
Another thing that kills me is the thought of my brother ever being put into a residential home. I know that my mom would never let this happen. Neither would I… I would definitely take him in a heartbeat – I also know that my brother, my aunt, and many others close to us would do the same. But, as a sister, if I could never bare to see my brother in a home, how is it even possible that some parents could do something?
What makes me even more sad is that half of the people in these homes do not have major behaviors, could be taught more, etc. Plus! If you have the money to put your child in a home, why not just use that money to get the help at home? Instead of sticking them in a “jail cell.” Homes are scary – you have no idea how well your child is being taken care of or what is going on. And if they’re nonverbal? You’ll never know.
It sickens me to think that there are no possibilities for so many people with Autism that they have to be stuck into a home. That they cannot find an educational program, help them continue to grow, or even just be at home with their loved ones. Sammy will never, ever be put in a home.
A few weeks ago, I went home for dinner. I was so happy to get to see everyone, especially Sammy because I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks.
Of course, Sammy peed on the floor twice – and not just a little leakage, a whole puddle. It took us almost an hour to clean up each time. We had to wipe it up, spray it with disinfectant, wipe it up again, and then mop. Not to mention that my mom had to do the laundry that included the clothes that he had just soaked. As if that isn’t enough, we didn’t realize the first time he peed so he walked through it and walked upstairs to his room and sat down on his bed. Soaking the floor all the way up and his mattress, sheets, and blankets. Ayyyyy yi yi.
So finally, once this is all done – Sammy was downstairs doing his thing and when I went down to check on him, he had prepared himself a snack. Cool, right? No. We had left out a bowl of olives because “he wouldn’t dare touch it – he hates them.” We thought wrong. He filled a bowl with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and celery salt. Ew. And then, decided to dip each olive in this concoction and ate all of the olives. He smelled like a garlic patch – it was disgusting. Can’t hate a guy for trying though, right? Hahahaha…
Gotta love Autism.
Autism from a sibling's point of view...
My name is Paige and I am 24 years old. I graduated from Towson University with a Psychology Bachelors Degree. I am now working towards my Master's in Education of Autism and other Pervasive Disorders at Johns Hopkins. I am also a Behavior Data Specialist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute Neurobehavioral Inpatient Unit. My younger brother, Sammy, is 19 and has Autism. He is completely non-verbal, unaware of safety, is not toilet trained, cannot get himself dressed, and has difficulty with everyday activities that we all take advantage of. He works harder every single day of his life than anyone I know and he always does it with a smile on his face. He is my true hero and inspiration and because of him, I have dedicated my life to advocating and creating opportunities for individuals with Autism. I hope that I can make him proud and this blog is just a small part of the awareness I hope I can create about Autism and support other siblings impacted by Autism. I love you Sammy - thank you for everything.