Over the years, I’ve heard my little brother be described in a whole bunch of ways. He’s brilliant. He’s fun. He’s awesome. He’s inspiring. He’s passionate. He’s spiritual… But there is always one description that tends to supersede all of the others.
My little brother is autistic.
The word ‘autism’ tends to carry around a lot of baggage, which is disappointing to me. People always tell me, “I’m so sorry. Having an autistic brother must be tough.” They ask, “How much can he do? What will you do with him after he becomes an independent? How hard does that make it for you to live a normal life?” To which I respond, “What the hell is up with all the negativity?”
More often than not, those words aren’t said sarcastically. Really. What the hell is up with all the negativity? We live in an age where we should be accepting of everyone with differences, but more than that, we should believe in everyone with differences. Just because someone is of a different skin color, doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish the same feats as somebody else. Just because someone is of a different religion, doesn’t mean they hold themselves to a lesser moral standard. How is it that disabilities are always tossed to the wayside?
From a practical sense, yes, I realize there are just some things people with autism cannot do at the same level as everyone else. But why is it that we must focus on those things? A great man once told me, we shouldn’t look at people with autism as having a disability, but rather having the ability to be different. There are loads of things my little brother can do that I certainly can’t. So let’s start asking about those things.
I want to stop hearing, “How much can he do?” and start hearing, “What can’t he do?” I want the question, “What will you do with him after he becomes an independent?” to change to, “What are his goals once he achieves independence?” And more than anything I want to hear, “How hard does that make it for you to live a normal life?” switch to, “How does your little brother better your life?” Because he does. In more ways than I could possibly write about in one blog post.
My little brother’s label doesn’t deserve to be ‘autistic.’ That’s why I’ve decided to participate in Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Los Angeles on April 18th. I want people to know that autism is a minimally defining characteristic. I want others to look beyond the exterior of an autistic person, and see the beauty that lies within.
If you find it in your hearts, please donate to my page below. All of the money will go towards autism research. Also, please spread the word that from April 6-13, ContentChecked has agreed to donate $1 for every paid download. If you would like to learn more about this mobile application, you can follow the link below. Thank you so much for reading! And if you’re participating in the Walk, I can’t wait to see you there!
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