No Man is an Island: A Sister’s Perspective
If I was stranded on a desert island and was able to take only three things, it would be an easy decision. I would take a really long book to read, which could double as kindling for a fire. I would also take a large ration of noodles because I am a college student, and noodles go with everything. Lastly, but most importantly, I would force my brother to come along. He is no nature boy, but he would keep me laughing so hard I could tolerate anything.
My brother’s name is Jan, Polish for John, and he is 14 years old. I might not be able to remember last week, but I can remember the day he was born. Back then, in first grade, it was a cool thing to be having a little brother or sister. When Jan was born, it was like God answering my prayers. Within the next few years, we would come to learn a new word when describing my brother, Asperger’s. It has been about 8 years since my brother was diagnosed and he is a completely different person than he was back then. When he was younger, my brother was not very verbal and prone to violent behaviors. I had always thought that "autistic” was another word for fragile, so growing up I became my brother’s champion. I protected him from bullies and the cruel world that looked down on him. My brother may be fragile, but he was never damaged.
As time progresses, most siblings grow apart. However, the bond between my brother and me has only become stronger if anything. Yes, we go through our occasional rough patches like any siblings, but we still love each other at the end of the day because we have gone through so much together. My brother used to seek solace in my room when my father would yell at my mother. These one-way fights would go on for hours, and my brother would climb up on my bed and watch movies. I have always tried my best to protect him from the pain surrounding him, but the veil had to be lifted sometime. We prefer to keep our conversations light and humorous instead of dark and depressing. Whenever tragedy has touched us, my brother and I combat it with our own twisted brand of humor. This shield of laughter has helped us to deal with many difficulties.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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