My little brother Jayden is autistic. I love him with all my heart but being a sibling to an autistic child was hard at first. I didn’t like it when my brother screamed and everyone stared, or when people yelled at him because they thought he was just being a brat.But as time went on it got easier and we nowunderstand each other a lot better.
I find that because Jayden has autism people sometimes treat him differently. I feel the label ‘autism’ makes people judge my brother unfairly.Autism doesn’t define who my brother is – people need to realise he is still just a 5-year-old boy. His brain just works differently, that’s all. There is nothing “wrong” with him.
Over the years, I have come to accept that Jayden has good days and bad days, just like everyone else. But on Jayden’s bad days, I need to remember to be extra patient. Sometimes Jayden has meltdowns because he can’t understand what is happening, which means he can’t control his emotions. So, we have to be patient and wait while mum comforts him to settle him down. This breaks my heart to watch, but I know my brother can’t control how he feels and how he acts. And I know that through all his therapy, he is learning a lot about how to ask for help, how to control his emotions and how to calm himself down. But he is only little, so he is still learning.
With me being the oldest child and Jayden being the youngest, I do have those moments where I get scared for what the future holds for my brother. I remember when I first found out he had autism I started crying because I was so worried that he was going to get bullied at school and have no friends. I worried that people would make fun of him because he is different. All I could think is that I just want to keep him safe and protect him. I want the world to see that he is a just a little boy, and not judge him by the label of ‘autism’. Not without understanding what that really means.
But even with all my fears and concerns, Jayden has managed to prove me wrong. He started kindergarten last year and with the support of the kindergarten and the teachers, the kids were fine with my brother. I know mum and Fred do a lot of work with the kindergarten and Jayden’s therapist to make sure he has the help he needs, but Altona Meadows Kindergarten did something extra special that really helped people understand. The teachers made a social story about Jayden having autism. They explained to the other children how Jayden’s brain is a little bit different and how to respect Jayden’s space and boundaries. Through the social story both Jayden and the other children learnt how to interact together, and since then we have had more good days then bad days at kinder and he made heaps of friends. They don’t care that he is different because he is so funny and loves to play and be silly. He has the world’s biggest heart! And they can see that he isn’t any less then what they are.
For now, Jayden doesn’t understand the comments that people say. I can only hope that in time, with more awareness about autism, people will be more accepting and less judgmental. My brother means the world to both me and my sister, and whilst the last 2.5 years have been hard for us, I have absolutely loved watching him grow and develop into the most beautiful boy. I love it when sometimes we are sitting on the couch all together and Jayden will say the funniest thing or when I come home from school and Jayden grabs us all and says, “group hug!”.
Jayden has come so far and he continues to strive to beat all the challenges put before him. He is such a fighter and he will never give up – he will continue to do amazing things. We have learnt not to care about what people do or say about him, even though sometimes it is very hard. As long as our little brother is safe and happy, then our whole family is happy.