In a sort of continued post from "Deal breaker or dream come true," I decided to talk to a bunch of siblings and what they think for the future of their brother or sister with special needs.
Not that I ever want to find that person, but there are definitely siblings out there that probably can't even imagine taking in their brother or sister when they get older. It isn't a thought that crosses their mind, or an idea that they even want to consider.
However, I am so curious about those who WOULD NOT take in their brother or sister if they got older and were unable to live with the parents or on their own? Not because I feel like I should change their minds but because I am so curious about their thoughts and feelings regarding the topic. Mainly because everyone I spoke to spoke so strongly about wanting their siblings to live with them.
I have realized that over the years I've spoken to other siblings about my plans to take Sammy in and they seemed sort of stand offish. Is this because it is something they will never consider or because it is a touchy subject? I recently spoke to a mother who stated that her daughter told her once she was ready to give her brother back -- not that I blame her, especially being young and not understanding the disability completely -- but when it came down to it, are there more siblings out there that wouldn't take in their brother or sister? Would they sacrifice a relationship with someone they considered marrying because he/she wasn't willing to potentially become a guardian to the sibling with special needs?
One sibling mentioned that she always planned for it in the back of her head but was optimistic that there will be way more options in the future for her siblings and that they wouldn't need to. She told me that.
Another sibling told me that, like me, had already spoken to her parents about it and put it into the process of transition for her sibling and that it would always be what she expected.
Finally, a sibling said that he would definitely take his siblings in but their goal is to have them living independently. And if that couldn't happen, they would live with their parents. He stated, "my parents would never make me take them in, but I would if I needed to." My mom says this too, that she will take care of Sammy until she can't. And even then, it isn't up to me to take him in. But I will. I want to.
For a lot of these siblings, their brothers or sisters will live independently and that makes me so happy, but at the same time, so sad. Will Sammy? And when most siblings could stay with their parents into their late ages, will Sammy be able to? He can be aggressive and he is much stronger (and unaware of the damage he can do) than my mom, Jack, or me.
I am thankful for all of these siblings and that they are willing to take in their brother or sister. I am thankful to them because I know that I will be able to go through it with them, whenever it does some time that Sammy and their siblings move in with all of us. Not that any of our parents EXPECT us to do this, isn't it funny that we all kind of expect and plan for it?
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.