Autism, a six letter word here meaning "a neurological disorder that can change lives and wreak much havoc" has taken residence in my home for years. Both of my siblings have been diagnosed with high functioning autism. Autism certainly isn't easy to live with. I share a room with my seven year old sister, a feat that requires much patience at times.
How do you explain that at 8:00 in the morning, you don't yell at the cat to get out of the closet? (Who cares that the cat is wearing a tiara? I'm trying to sleep!) How do you explain that you can't understand someone when they are yelling at the frequency of a car alarm? How do you explain that you are busy and can't play with plastic toys? Again and again and again and...
When they wake up at 3 in the morning because they had a bad dream or they sob their heart out because they miss the cats that died in a fire...when they ask "why God?"... when you yourself ask "why God?" When you meet someone new and they ask "Is she five?" and you say "No, she's almost eight" and it breaks your heart...when she's excluded from a group of kids, and you see the parallels between seven-year-old girls and high school cliques, and big-sister syndrome kicks in which makes you immediately want to go make it better, but you know that, sooner or later, you just won't be there...When you are having a bad day, and she comes up, wanting a hug, and you snap at her to leave you alone, and her face crumbles, and you feel lower than the bacteria that live on bacteria that live on a piece of dirt...And when you apologize and she forgives you like nothing ever happened, that's autism.
And when all is said and done, yes, she still has autism, but she is your sister, and she does need to be loved. Autism is just one aspect of her, not what defines her. And, as hard as that is to remember, it makes all the difference.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go love my sister.picture of eyeglasses, cc, via flickr, sheepguardingllama
JBug grudgingly admits that she is Tina's fifteen year old daughter (after all, she has to have someone to blame for her DNA) and is big sis to JBear and JBean. She blogs for Geek 4 Kids, (with the younger siblings and Tina) and her personal blog is FlyingLogicMonkeys.