According to CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, about one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Autism isn't just a health crisis; it's a family crisis that impacts all members and places extraordinary demands on the entire family unit.
There are usually special demands put on siblings, with most of them learning to manage these demands by adopting characteristics that make them resilient adults.
Here are four things you may have learned if you have a sibling on the autism spectrum:
It doesn't matter if you were the younger or the older sibling; if you grew up with a brother or sister on the autism spectrum, you grew up fast because of the substantial amount of responsibility bestowed upon you.
I tried my best to help my parents keep the household running, which often required me to have more responsibility than most of my friends.
But let it be known that it was responsibility I chose to take on, and if I had the chance to do it again, I would probably do more.
Possess a constant need to overachieve
I never experienced sibling rivalry. What I did experience was a constant need to dominate every goal or aspiration.
I felt my parents needed someone to always excel and do the “right” things to make up for my brother who may not ever be able to do those things.
Now that I am adult, I realize that my brother is his own person who has his own accomplishments, and there is no need to ever overcompensate for his ability.
Everyone has special talents — even a person with autism — and I now realize we all begin at different points.
He is whole and my parents love us both equally and are able to measure us on our individual capabilities.
Intense amount of empathy
My inability to communicate with my brother how I wanted to crushed me at times.
However, it always made me want to put myself in his shoes to truly understand what he was feeling, even if he couldn't tell me himself.
I felt it was my duty to interpret how he felt to everyone around him. This to feel empathy for other people I interact with.
I am now able to understand where most people are coming from versus simply providing sympathy for their situations.
The utmost appreciation for my parents
I admire my parents for how they raised us and for never allowing my brother's disability to hold us back.
Seeing the unconditional love and selflessness of how my parents cared for my brother allowed us to form a very strong family bond.
I most love knowing they would still teach my brother and me those same values, even if he hadn't been born with autism.
Another thing most siblings will tell you is we've realized people with autism are really no different than people without it.
People with autism just express themselves differently. Through my brother, I've learned to appreciate the “little things,” for those are the things that really matter.
I appreciate all the small steps he's taken to come such a long way.
I am so proud of him, proud of my parents for all their support of him and proud that he's part of a close-knit family.