Our marketing manager, Sarah, talking about having an autistic sibling for National Siblings Day
When I was nine years old my brother was born. I was so excited to be a big sister and I remember going to visit him in the hospital, he was so tiny, and I instantly had this overwhelming feeling to protect him from any harm and that is no different now on National Siblings day in 2019.
He’s all grown up now, he’s 6ft tall, 22 years old and is living with Asperger Syndrome. Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder that can make it harder for those affected to interact with others in a social environment.
The condition is an autism spectrum disorder, meaning those with Asperger Syndrome may exhibit different levels of symptoms. Approximately 37 million people globally are affected by Asperger Syndrome although it can be difficult to diagnose, my brother was not diagnosed until he was 13 years old.
Growing up was often difficult for my family and for my brother. My brother, as is common with Asperger’s, liked routine, if his routine was broken this would make him anxious and, as a child, more likely to be disruptive. Our parents were judged for this, by strangers who would simply think he was a “naughty child” by the time we got Jack’s diagnosis it was a weight off their shoulders to be able to understand his behaviour and get some help and support.
Fast forward to college and Jack was doing great, like most college students he was thinking about leaving home and going to university. It was going to be difficult, but Jack wanted to push himself out of his comfort zone and not be restricted by his condition, so he battled through the anxiety, moved out and started his degree at Salford University.
University made my brother, he went from struggling with a lot of everyday tasks to living independently and figuring out who he was. He graduated last year and has now gone on to study for his master’s degree.
I am so proud of the man my brother has turned into, I don’t see his Asperger’s like a disease or a condition, its just part of who he is, and he wouldn’t be my brother without it.