Autism, from a sibling’s perspective

As a companion piece to my Stories of Autism posts, I’d like to offer a perspective from a sibling. The following was written by Megan Schultz, sister of Gavin.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Autism, Special Needs Photographer Union Grove Wisconsin

From Megan:

I was 6 years old when my brother Gavin, then 3, was diagnosed with autism. At that time, I had no idea how much his “disability” would affect my life. Immediately after his diagnosis, our home became not our own, but one shared with therapists and aides, constantly coming and going. Our schedule filled up with doctor’s visits and medical consultations. Our time became dedicated to searching for the most effective ways to teach Gavin. Our extra money was spent on anything and everything we could afford that could help him. As far as these things go, our lives still remain just as hectic as they were when he was first diagnosed. Therapists still come, we still take Gavin to various treatment centers several times a week, we still strive to find new ways to help him, and it seems all our money is spent making sure he gets the best and most innovative treatments. I’ve come to realize over the years, though, that everything concerning Gavin’s autism that the world would see as a disadvantage has been a blessing to our family. We’ve met so many astoundingly compassionate individuals through Gavin, and have made friends that will last a lifetime. We have become selfless, focusing so much of our time and energy on Gavin. We have learned not to be judgmental of others. We are patient, and our hope is undying. As far as our love for Gavin goes, I’m at an utter loss of words. No string of words could ever describe how deeply I love and care for my brother. Perhaps the most satisfying thing is hearing him say “I wuh doo” (his version of I love you), which he tells us all many times a day. Although his speech is limited, he’s quite profound in what he spells through Rapid Prompting Method. In a recent session, he said of me: “Megan, I love you. I’m proud of you and am so lucky to have you as a sister.” I feel like the lucky one. His love makes all of our trials over the last twelve years’ worth it. Gavin has touched my life in more ways than I can say. I’m willing to do anything to keep him smiling, and I’ll gladly devote my life to making sure he shines brighter than the sun. In my eyes, he does not have a disability. He possesses a beautiful ability to touch lives without saying words, to generate hope in the hearts of others with his love for life, and to carry his burdens with a smile on his face. As far as I’m concerned, if he can do this, he can do anything. I’m going to make sure I’m standing next to him as he moves mountains.

Megan Schultz

Racine, Wisconsin

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Please go to the Blessed Scrapper blog to read a touching essay from Savana, about her sister Sofie. Click here

One Comment on “Autism, from a sibling’s perspective

  1. Thank you, Megan! I have been overwhelmed today by a sense of sadness for my two neurotypical kids whose older sis is on the spectrum. In a lot of ways I feel like the younger two get ripped off, since so much of our time and emotion goes into the big sister. I worry that they will resent her, and me. I worry that they’ll miss out on having “happy, fun mom” and a “normal” childhood. You have given me hope.

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