Saturday, February 24, 2007

Autistic Brother's Keeper

The New York Time Magazine has an interesting article about a 14 year-old girl with two 16-year old autistic twin brothers. Although my nephew seems to be in much better shape than the boys in this article, I can't help but think about my niece's future. It's hard to think of a toddler who can barely speak as being responsible for another person - and she isn't, not yet. As long as she's a child and her parents are still alive she's not responsible for him, but one day she will be.

But even thinking of the nearer future, I wonder what problems having an autistic brother may produce. I'd like to think that since he's very high-functioning, most of the problems mentioned in the Times article won't come up. For one thing, she probably won't even know he's autistic for most of her childhood, and she won't have to cope with what being autistic means for her brother. Neither is he ever violent towards her or anyone else. Right now she adores him and he treats her well. But something will probably pop up that we can't predict.

Thinking of their adulthood, it seems my niece will be my nephew's only sibling, since my sister isn't planning any more children. The responsibility will be hers alone. Sure, I'd like to think my children, her cousins, would help her, but cousins are not as close as brothers and sisters, nor do they feel the same kind of responsibility. Besides, they don't even exist yet and who knows where they'll live (not to mention the fact that they'll be much younger than my nephew and niece). Hopefully, my nephew will be an independent adult in need of minimal assistance. Only time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to point you toward this post (from someone you seem to already respect[?]) to give you a different perspective on this topic. and hey, why not this one as well?!