Siblings of those with autism are anything but typical. They have wisdom beyond their years. They have a true understanding of what it means to be different. They have learned to compromise, negotiate and are the future social workers and great psychologists of our time.
We interviewed a nine year old boy about what it’s like to have a brother with Asperger’s syndrome. His answers were profound and his clarity of the situation impressed us. Many parents with children on the autism spectrum are concerned with the impact the disorder has on siblings. Adam Aviram, a young child put it all into perspective. He eloquently lets us know what it’s like having a ten year old brother with Asperger’s syndrome.
Typical to Asperger’s, his brother Dean Aviram (10 years old) has a passion. He loves history. He probably knows more than most adults and enjoys in depth conversations about world leaders and past events. Adam, on the other hand enjoys soccer and playing the Wii in his spare time. When it comes to playing with his brother, he tells us they enjoy sharing information. He proudly announced that he and his brother are working on building a time machine. This might not be typical kids play, but it doesn’t faze Adam. In fact, when asked how he thinks the pair would play differently if his brother did not have Asperger’s, he figures that it would be so different, he couldn’t possibly imagine it.
Adam says that he and his brother are really good friends. When asked “What’s one of the best thing about Asperger’s?” he doesn’t skip a beat. He doesn’t have to remember things because he knows his brother will. We agree that must be pretty convenient. When asked “What’s something frustrating about Asperger’s syndrome?” he lets us know that his brother loves the computer, and it’s hard to get him away from it when Adam wants to have fun instead.
Ask an adult to describe Aspergers and you’re likely to get a detailed explanation, or perhaps a technical one. But Adam Aviram, with his 9 years of wisdom simply tells it like it is. “Aspergers is a type of autism and it’s hard for people to have a good conversation with other people.” We certainly can’t argue with that!
When asked if he thinks his friends notice something different about his brother, he says “Yes.” But it doesn’t bother him and they don’t ask for details. They are however curious about why Adam likes to hang out with children on the autism spectrum during school lunch. That’s when he explains that he’s helping people, and that he’s interested because his brother has Asperger’s syndrome. Like many children with siblings on the autism spectrum, Adam goes above and beyond. He proves that not only is he an excellent brother, but an advocate to those with autism, and perhaps a pioneer of our times.
Parents are concerned about the family dynamic and the responsibility a child must bear when their sibling has autism. However, they can take comfort that siblings are resilient, open minded and accepting of the situation just the way it is.