Friday, September 07, 2007

On Siblings Who Hate Autism

Kristina wrote a post titled Hating Autism, Hating Hate back in July, a post which I had missed then. The post is about John Best Jr., evidently, but what caught my attention was something a reader named BRoBBcins wrote in the comments section.

I for one do hate autism, It controls my entire family. I have a little brother with autism and everything is based on wat he can handle, i cant take it anymore. My mom litterally tells me she loves him more than me. If thats not a reason to HATE the diesese idk wat is. I cannot communicate with my little brother, i cannot touch him, he doesnt even know i exist, yet my entire world is based around him. I dont think he even has feelings, hes just kind of there. Go ahead and send me and email telling me wat an evil person i am, or mabye try and help me make since of all of thise, ive tried talking to my mom about it, and she could care less about how i feel.

I feel for this kid, I do. In that particular family the autistic child might be doing OK, but the NT kid is clearly suffering. It seems obvious to me he's not precisely suffering because of autism, though.

The first thing I notice is that there's sibling rivalry in that family. Despite what parents say, let's face it, some children are payed more attention to than others. Does it matter that the child who the parents pay most attention to is autistic in this case? What would happen if we were talking about two NT kids in the same situation?

It's clear that the autism matters to BRoBBcins though. He sees his little brother as less deserving of parental attention than himself. That's what hurts. He feels an injustice has been committed. He also feels entitled, as Kassiane put it.

I think it all has to do with the way he views autism, what he's been led to believe. BRoBBcins seems to believe that his little brother is less than human. Why should his parents pay so much attention to his younger sibling then?

I dont think he even has feelings, hes just kind of there.

As long as BRoBBcins fails to accept his little brother as a sentient being, as an equal, and as long as he sees autism in this manner, I'm afraid he will continue to suffer. It doesn't have to be this way, and I say this because not all siblings of autistic children feel this way.

I know a little bit about this, and I know that many of my readers know about this too. My classically autistic son has an older sister. I'm rather proud of the way she views her little brother. She's very loving in the way she approaches him. They get along in much the same way any brother or sister would, and in fact, if you consider that brothers and sisters often don't get along, their relationship is probably better than most.

My step-daughter has asked about autism, why her little brother is autistic and such. We have discussed difference, disability, human equality and acceptance; as best I could. I think this is key. BTW, she recently started seeing her first "boyfriend", who happens to be autistic (OK, "high functioning", but diagnosed and everything). I think she's well equipped to be an individual who not only tolerates difference but embraces it, and yes, I take much of the credit :)

I don't blame BRoBBcins's parents. Who knows why his views have been shaped the way they have. There's a lot of anti-autism propaganda in the media these days. They will even imply that siblings are supposed to feel bad about autism. The other day my wife brought home an information sheet about autism that basically said that. I read it over and thought that the reality described there was totally contrary to the reality in our family.

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24 comments:

  1. I have two children, one who is autistic and one who is not. I want both my sons to grow up knowing that they are loved and that they are special and important. I make up special songs for both of them and hug them and tell them both they're loved every day. I try and make sure that they both have time just with me, when they can be read to, or sung to, or to go and feed the ducks, or buy some food without the other one being there.

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  2. I think you're probably right that the anti-autism propaganda in the media got to that kid. I can't imagine a kid describing his own brother as not having feelings and "just kind of there" unless he got the idea from somewhere else.

    Very sad...

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  3. Siblings of children with autism have challenges to deal with arising from their brother's or sister's autism. Families as a whole face many extra challenges when a child is autistic.

    Your exploitation of this autism reality to promote your neurodiversity ideology is sad.

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  4. If I didn't have a family where a child is classically autistic and where the dad (myself) is an Asperger autistic, your argument might have a chance, Harold.

    Clearly, parents and siblings often suffer, and they believe it's because of autism. But cases like mine, or Estee's or Kev's and others show that's not the case.

    There are different challenges when a child is autistic. There are challenges with any child and the challenges are different at different ages. When it comes to autism, the challenges are overblown in the way they are protrayed, for shock value.

    Whining about those challenges is not going to help autistic people, Harold. On the contrary. It promotes fear of autistic people.

    For some perspective on real challenges, consider what a family in Iraq must go through. Or what parents of a child with cancer must go through. Now, that must be tough. Yet, I doubt families in those situations whine as much as you, Harold.

    Now go ahead and go back to your so-called "autism reality".

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  5. The sibling question always leads me ask a lot more questions, especially because Charlie does not have a sibling. There have been many moments when I have thought, it would be harder to have to explain so many things to another child (our various moves, for instance), and yet I know that Charlie would really like to have another child around. I've had a number of students and therapists who have siblings on the spectrum and they have all spoken with compassion and love, and emphasized, they have chosen to be autism therapists or teachers because of their sibling---hate doesn't always have to stay hate.

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  6. "I can't imagine a kid describing his own brother as not having feelings and "just kind of there" unless he got the idea from somewhere else."

    Sounds like a perfect description to me. Your exploitation of this autism reality to promote your neurodiversity ideology is sad.

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  7. Are you just emulating Harold now, John? Basically, drive-by posting doing what little you can to try to discredit neurodiversity advocates, by claiming "exploitation", "agendas" and such. You see. that's what's sad.

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  8. "I don't blame BRoBBcins's parents. Who knows why his views have been shaped the way they have. There's a lot of anti-autism propaganda in the media these days. They will even imply that siblings are supposed to feel bad about autism. The other day my wife brought home an information sheet about autism that basically said that. I read it over and thought that the reality described there was totally contrary to the reality in our family."

    I have to take you to task about this. A family that flat out says they love a child more and that the sibling can't tell if his autistic sibling has emotions is clearly not getting the sibling involved and has subjugated the NT child for the needs of the ND one. To attempt to put primary blame on the media for demonizing autism is ignoring the responsibility of the parent to involve and, if not equal time, at least equal affection or understanding toward all children.
    I can't say that it's easy, at times it's damn near impossible, to give all what they need, but my NT kids are intimate to the needs and emotions of our ND kids. We're all in this together, clearly BRoBBcins is out of the loop in the family...

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  9. Joe,
    It's getting boring to discredit Neuroinsanity. Harold and I disagree about mercury but it's good to see that no sane people agree with celebrating the horror of autism.

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  10. Livsparents,

    What I was referring to was that it's probably not the parents' fault that the kid believes his brother has no feelings. My guess is they didn't teach him that. (Hard to tell, but probably a good guess).

    When it comes to not paying attention to the NT kid, not talking to him and so forth (assuming that was accurately represented) of course the parents are responsible for that.

    I just think that the bigger issue there is the kid's way of seeing autism. If he had an NT sibling his parents payed more attention to, which probably happens all the time, I think he'd be upset, but he wouldn't be in such despair.

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  11. Fore Sam, you're right. Only sain people would display prejudice and hatred towards anyone who's different. So you're saying those who are accepting, kind, and understanding are insane? Maybe you need to check your definition of what is sain.

    I see many more horrors that arise from Neurotypicality than Neurodiversity. You are a great example of one of those horrors.

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  12. I have an Autistic child and I feel for this kid. Our child with Autism rules our world. Our whole world revolves around him and what he can and cannot do. There is a ton of resentment in our home. And when that boy says his brother seems to "just kinda be there" well...that's not a crazy statement, sometiems it feels like a robot in the house...actually most of the time. It's not fair for this child to have to suffer because of his Autistic brother-hopefully his family has some sort of support available to them so they can take vacations with out the Autistic child and do "normal" family things, so that this child can be happier. I know that you are supposed to love your child unconditionally-and I do love him that way, but I am very realistic and even though it is not politically correct, I am not affraid to say that it is way too much to handle sometimes and the bond with him is not there.

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  13. I have a form of high functioning autism. Your brother certainly has feelings and certainly knows you are there. This is a first-hand account remember. He is not dumb either he just has a lingual and social impairment. MY school thought that I was low until they gave me a verbal IQ test and scored 148.

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  14. Shame shame shame on this young man's parents!! It would be a really good idea for this kid to speak to his school counselor or someone who can come see him and help him work through this, then bring the parents in for some behavior modification! Hopefully the autistic child receives the proper therapies, and the rest of the family should too!

    I went through my daughter's feelings of resentment for the extra attention her stepbrother gets (needs) and we worked to show her that she is loved and valued.

    *sigh*

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  15. I Hate You When You Call Me Autistic!


    I hate you when you call me names
    I hate you when you look at me - blank face
    I hate you when you mock at me
    I hate you when you threat me as if I am not human.

    Do you know that I can memorize
    all the names of my families and relatives
    all their birthdays and phone numbers
    all the players and teams of any sports
    all newspapers and schedules in the subways
    And i know you dont

    Do you know that I can easily define patterns
    in all the things that I see, I touch,
    I hear, I smell, I taste and I dream
    And i know you dont

    Do you know that I have a lot of great things in my mind
    I can solve intricate mathematical equations
    I can create worlds that you have not thought before
    I can paint life like a magical innocent smile of a child
    And I know you dont

    I want to talk to you,
    but I was not given a chance
    I want to tell you about the sky
    but I startle when I talk
    I want to tell you about duality
    but I have trouble relating my mind
    I want to play hide and seek
    but I could not look at into your eyes
    I might flaps my hand or walk on tiptoe
    because these are my ways of telling you
    Can we be normal and be friends?

    But you set norms and rules
    because you are many and we are not
    Label us as a disorder or a disease
    because we behave differently and you are not
    Diagnose us by behaviours and observartions
    because you think you are smart and we are not
    But I'm sorry to disagree, your theory is your opinion - not ours!

    But when I hate you
    It does not mean that I do not love you
    It does not mean that I do not care about you
    It does not mean that we can not be together
    But simply because
    You do not understand me.

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  16. I disagree that "the media" got to the sibling of the autistic kid and slanted his feelings. His words sound heartfelt to me. I think his brother is "just there" and doesn't seem to have any feelings. I've known autistic people like that, especially the so-called "low-functioning" ones who bang their heads and attack random people for no reason.
    No parent wants to think that his or her child is stuck at the cognitive level of an earthworm but it happens. They should appreciate the normal child and give him all the attention he craves. The other kid's not going to notice anyway.
    Neurodiversity is a crock made up by people who can't accept the truth that they produced a kid who's defective.

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  17. Gotta loves the people in denial who think the low functioning autistics have all of these high level thoughts. Please, nothing is more dangerous than parents who are in denial. Get your kids some intensive therpy and hope for the best.

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  18. UUGGGG I feel the exact same way as you do. I have a 15 year old autistic brother, and he used to be much better when he was small until the vaccine. Now he can't do NOTHING, only stim all day and watch the same Disney movies over and over again. He started to masterbate a few years ago, and it just drives me nuts!!!!!!!!!! he doesn't care about anyone, once my other brother hurt himself in front of my autistic brother, and he didn't do anything, just stimmed and stared at the wall!!!

    the worst part is that he had 10 years of program and help from speech therapists and aid workers, and they finished with him because they said there is no hope!!!!

    I HATE AUTISM!!!! its not "normal" or spectrum, or whatever they call it, its hell!!!

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  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  20. Note: I've removed the 5/18 comment by Anonymous, as I feel it's in violation of Blogger's Content Policy, especifically this rule:

    "We want you to use Blogger to express your opinions, even very controversial ones. But, don't cross the line by publishing hate speech. By this, we mean content that promotes hate or violence towards groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity. For example, don't write a blog saying that members of Race X are criminals or advocating violence against followers of Religion Y."

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  21. As an adult sister and legal guardian of my brother who is autistic, I beg you to hear the despair in this boy's words, and respond with love and understanding instead of judgment. I know what its like not to be loved, and to see all mom's attention go to the autistic brother. I know what its like to be judged with anger when, as a child, I was bewildered and lonely. I watched one of my "well" brothers succumb to drugs and finally suicide in his despair. This boy is crying out for all siblings of autistic people. We need to listen and respond.

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  22. mariechicago, how do I contact you? Please. It's so nice to know that I am not alone. I'd post my email address but I don't want to deal with all the hate mail

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  23. Having a sibling with autism is horrible in every way. I personally have found there's nothing good about it; it's like a curse. There's no point sentimentalizing it.

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  24. So some of you think someone who is autistic has no feelings...

    I have a feeling my post might be ignored, but I'm posting at the slight chance someone will hear me out.

    I was diagnosed with a form of autism known as PDD NOS when I was 3 or 4. Looking back on how I was when I was younger, I can say yes, I know I was hard to deal with at times, and yes, some of the things I did seem to lack empathy, but (and yes there is a but) to say we don't have feelings that aren't our own is actuall;y quite cold. Let me tell something, at 17 I reralized what kind of a person I was and because of that I grew depressed, somedays I'd be home buy myself crying to myself because I knew I could never be like a normal person, but at that significant age of 17 I felt so bad I actually went to a bridge, and I actually contemplated jumping into the river, allowing myself to drown, I didn't have it in me, so I didn't do it. Despite that however, I wotry to attempt suicide another 4 times. If you think we're making you suffer without feeling any remorse ourselves, you couldn't be more wrong.

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