This is my brother William, and he is #Autistic
William was born the day after my 9th birthday on October 15th at 11:58pm.
There were complications, and we weren’t really sure if he and my mom were going to make it. William’s the 10th in our family of 11 children, and kind of our miracle child.
Before William was born, we all took bets on his weight to determine who would get to hold him first.
I won the bet, but William stayed in the ICU for another two weeks after my mom came home, so I couldn’t hold him until then.
I saw him for the first time through a glass window. He had needles taped to his hands, a tiny, round, little face, big eyes, and spiky black hair.
We didn’t know William was autistic until he turned 3 and still wasn’t talking.
To be honest, at 12, whether William was autistic or not made no difference to me, still doesn’t, but there’s something about watching your 6 year old brother spell his name on a piece of paper when you weren’t even sure he’d ever talk or write on his own that just hits you right in the soul.
William had a language I didn’t realize only my family understood until I saw other people try to interact with him.
They couldn’t understand what he was trying to say, and all I could think was, “wow, he wants you to not pinch his cheeks, lady.”
When William turned 7, he started talking. Like, really talking. The funny part is, I was so used to understanding grunts, mumbles, blabber, and gestures, I didn’t even notice.
A friend who hadn’t seen William in a while came over and said, “Whoa, Dana, he’s talking!”
Since then, William hasn’t stopped talking.
These days he sleeps on the bottom bunk of our bunk bed in the room he shares with my sister and I.
He wakes up at 5am and whispers, “Dana? Is anyone there? I’m so humgry.”
(HuMgry not huNgry.)
He plays with the neighbor kids, and laughs like a hyena over the most ridiculous things.
And he’s obsessed with all of us being his “fwends” forever.
William has autism, I know.
But to me he’s just my crazy kid brother who eats enough “bread, butter, shelly(ie: jelly)” sandwiches to put us out of house and home.
He’s the baby I stayed awake and listened to cry all night, every night as my mom tried to soothe him after he came home from the hospital.
He’s the kid I honed all my mad babysitting skills on when I was 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and now 18.
I believe William’s going to grow up and conquer the world in whatever way he decides he wants to.
And I think the more people aware that autism isn’t synonymous to ‘stupid’ the better off the world will be.
im sobbing right now because my autistic brother has no way of reaching out to me or my family because of his speech impediment. because of it he cannot speak a single word. his learning abilities won’t even let him write. he just keeps getting worse. i just wish he’d get better. i just want to speak to my brother.
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Person with a smug expression on their face leaning up against a white radiator. They are wearing a blue hoodie and a knitted rainbow scarf looped around their neck multiple times. /END DESCRIPTION]
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, raising public awareness of the condition and ensuring everyone living with autism gets the support they need. Get a better understanding of the condition with a selection of OUPblog articles.
- From art to autism: a Q&A with Uta Frith
- The new DSM-5: changes in the diagnosis of autism and intellectual disability
- Way to be autism aware
- ASD is now the approved new diagnostic category for autism
- Autism is many diseases
- Autism: a Q&A with Uta Frith
- Can a child with autism recover?
- Is there an epidemic of autism?
- Finding and classifying autism for effective intervention
What are you doing for World Autism Awareness Day?
Image credit: Hand writing the word Autism on a chalkboard under colorful puzzle piece drawings. Image by sdominick, iStockphoto.