- Have an open dialogue with your parents – early and often.
You know how your parents are usually the ones who bring up uncomfortable topics and force you to have “those talks”? Hate to tell you, but you may have to break the ice on this one. Parents feel their job is to protect you and often will not involve you in conversations concerning your brother or sister. Ask them to. Let them know you want to be informed and in the loop. The more educated you are the better. You will feel like you have more control and feel empowered. Autism is not a single-person disability and this impacts you, so speak up. Ask questions and ask them often.
Parents: this is especially true when you have two kids. I was eight when I realized that someday my parents would be gone and I would be my brother’s primary source of income and care. It’s not too early to have these conversations and starting a dialogue early makes it easier. One day you may have to sign over guardianship to your child and make other big financial and legal decisions directly involving both of your kids, don’t think they do not realize this.
2. If you need help, get it.
There is nothing taboo or embarrassing about talking to someone when you feel overwhelmed and even when you don’t. You can talk to your parents, your friends, find another sibling who knows what you’re going through (Hi, I’m Natalie, call me!), a school counselor, a therapist. Talking to a therapist doesn’t mean you’re “broken” or “weird”. They are literally trained to talk to you and help you, take advantage of it! You would be surprised how much better you feel. And not everything you talk to them about has to be Autism-related.
3. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. But get over it.
At the risk of sounding cliché, things could be worse. I’m a straight shooter. Autism sucks. You’ll have your “Why me?” moments. It will be hard at times, but you will get through it and the sun is gonna rise again tomorrow. Autism taught me that there are a lot of things I cannot change – so I value the things I can and one of those things is your attitude and perspective. Own it.