"This I Believe" 2013 Selection
Jacksonville High School
"Being the Little Big Brother"
The strength and willingness to accept those with autism may seem to be a daunting task at times, but many people overlook the strength the few individuals that are diagnosed with autism actually possess.
My brother Andrew was born with autism four years prior to my birth. As far back as I am able to recall, I knew that something wasn’t the same between us. We would always seem to play with different toys, act differently around strangers, and quite honestly, we were in no way similar. As a small child, I remember having to take care of my brother as if I was the older sibling, and no matter what I would help him with, I would never get a simple “thank you.” This wasn’t because he was ungrateful toward me, but that to this day he refuses to believe in autism.
This is what makes me get back up off the football field when I get knocked down. I think of Andrew and how much of a fighter he is every day of his life.
He gives me strength.
As a small child, you would never think that Andrew would be able to do the normal things that you and I can do today like driving a car, graduating high school, going to college, and having a full-time job. Yet somehow he has overcome these everyday obstacles, because he doesn’t believe in autism.
As time moved on and he continued to fight his autism, he slowly required less and less attention. He reached middle school and refused to take his medication that would help him calm down during his “moments.”, and soon after these incidents stopped occurring. It was his first step in controlling his autism because he didn’t believe that he had it.
When high school came around Andrew insisted that he didn’t need a teacher’s aide to follow him from class to class. He would come home and tell me stories about how kids looked at him differently because of the aide, and that he just wanted everyone to treat him like a normal kid. He believed he was just like everyone else and wanted to be treated that way. After struggling with the school board for many weeks, the school gave Andrew a week trial to see how he would do and he never looked back. Not only did Andrew succeed without an aide but he began to take normal high school classes and was well on his way to graduate. Still this was not enough for Andrew as his friends were making honor roll and beginning to drive cars. He took that extra step in his education and pulled the grades he needed to make honor roll his senior year of high school. As for driving? He passed his driver’s test with flying colors and attained his license. That day when he talked to me on the phone and in a happy but soft voice he said, “I’m just like you baby brother.”
The fact that Andrew refuses to believe in Autism makes me certainly believe in the obstacles that people with autism face. He fought all the odds in the world that said he couldn’t be like everyone else or that his life would always be different. To this day he continues to fight this and although he may never get there, he will never give up, and for that, I believe in my brother.