I was recently with my friends Whitney and David. For those of you who don't know, these are two of my closest friends from PALS. David has a sibling with Down Syndrome and Whitney is just a dedicated PALS volunteer. Basically, their love story is the cutest. Anyways, we got to talking about the intimidation of having a child/sibling with a disability...
I thought about my mom and about how hard it must be - to be divorced and have a child with a disability. Not only is it hard to find a person once you are divorced (and all that baggage), but to find someone who is okay and on board with caring for a child with special needs for the rest of their lives makes it 10x harder. Although these people do exist, who is really willing to opt into this responsibility? Not saying that Sammy isn't a blessing - I always want him to be a part of my life- but if he wasn't Autistic, would I want to be with someone who had an Autistic brother? Please don't think thats harsh - even though it sounds like it - but seriously, Sammy made me the accepting person that I am, would I really be the same without him?
Whoever I end up with - they will have to be okay with Sammy. Not just for the reasons that he is my brother and a main part of my life. They need to be accepting and understanding. But also, because Sammy will be living with me one day - they have to be on board with that. Otherwise, game over. Deal breaker.
My friend Whitney said, "it isn't as intimidating as you guys think." This makes me love her a million times more than I already do - that she genuinely always wanted to be apart of the disability community. But not everyone is like her! Even though there are people like her, I've even met them through PALS, but how many are truly willing to dedicate their life to something like this? She is an extremely brave and inspirational person for feeling this way and dedicating her life in many ways to helping individuals with special needs. People my age are barely able to commit to one, and only one person. I don't blame them - that's a crazy thought. How can you be expected to decide on spending your life with one person or the rest of your life - let alone taking in their severely Autistic brother later on in life in addition to your own kids, house, job?
*Shoutout to those who are willing to- Tony, Whitney, Steve, Jessie, Lisa <3
Autism from a sibling's point of view...
My name is Paige and I am 26 years old. I graduated from Towson University with a Psychology Bachelors Degree and from Johns Hopkins with a Post-Bacc Certificate in Education of Autism and other Pervasive Disorders at . I recently left my job at Kennedy Krieger Institute and began my Master's Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at University of South Florida. My younger brother, Sammy, is 20 and has Autism. He is non-vocal, 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.