“His behavior is out of control,” the stranger in the stands said. “Is he getting enough attention at home?”
Why, yes. Out of four kids, my brother gets 90% of the attention.
“I wonder what he’ll do,” said my sister’s friend as she had the brilliant idea to antagonize Nolan in public, enough so that his safety bubble was popped and he had an episode right there at the ball fields, in front of everyone. Strangers far and wide witnessed the side of Nolan we all tried to push down, where they immediately misperceived him as a bad child, instead of what he really is. Autistic.
When my peers and neighbors and Nolan’s fellow classmates hear the word “Autistic” they have a tendency to associate the word with retardation. I see the pity on their faces as they say:
“How do you do it?”
When in reality, my brother is not retarded. He was evaluated at four, and I say evaluated instead of diagnosed because Autism is not a disease, and he went through a full scale IQ exam at 6. At 6 years old my brother’s IQ was much higher than that of the average adult. His spacial relations and 3D understanding scores were out of this world. At six my brother was not stupid.
At 10 years old, my brother is emotionally at the age of 5. He struggles with social cues, understanding societal norms like farting in public or poop jokes. But he can build an entire Lego dinosaur 3 feet tall without instructions with random pieces from 50 different Lego sets. I often wonder where his brain will take him. At 10, my brother begins to learn he is not normal. At ten, my brother was not stupid.
At 12 years old, he doesn’t attend school much. He has a special schedule set up, most of his classes are online, but often times he comes home, unable to complete his work or stay focused in the classroom. My parents consider in-home schooling for him. Not because he needs tutoring. Oh no, he was ahead in his math work for the year until January. His art is creative and beautiful and funny. His brain just works differently than ours and a normal classroom doesn’t work for him. At twelve, my brother is not stupid.
I tire of people’s outward and inappropriate opinions of how my brother is being raised. I tire of people’s ignorance of the spectrum and their inherent meanness towards individuals different from them. My brother is incredibly brilliant and sweet. He loves sharks and Legos and creating 3D models on his iPad and animations on his computer. My brother is not stupid. He’s Autistic. He’s my hero. And if you don’t like it, please educate yourself.
Kait is a creative writing student at San Francisco State University. She is the eldest of four kids and connects most with the youngest, Nolan. They have a special face (Extreme Grumpy Face) that they make as a way of greeting one another. Nolan has found himself at the center of Kait’s writing several times over the years, whether it be a research paper, a speech, an article, or a children’s book… he is the most inspirational and tasking force of nature in her life. Visit her gaming website: Overlord Kait.
“I am so proud and honored to be his older sister. I hope to continue writing about him because I think it is important for people outside of our immediate family to have a better understanding of what it is like to have a sibling or child on the spectrum.”