Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – I’m Moving Out

In Their Own Words – I’m Moving Out

This is a guest blog post by Ali Dyer, the Social Media Coordinator at Autism Speaks. Her older brother Jeff has autism.

You can download the Family Services Sibling Support Tool Kit here

I am moving out. It is finally happening. Not like all of my other stints away. In this move, I will transition to the start of the rest of my life. Yikes. Don’t get me wrong, I have lived away before. But I always returned home, back to the nest.

I went away for college, but came home. I spent a period of time in Ireland, but came home. Oh yes and I lived down under in Australia, not once, but twice. Then I did the gypsy thing in New York City, bouncing from sublease to sublease. Again though, I came home.

Ever since Jeff moved into his group home, he has been on my oldest brother Tommy and me to move out as well. He moved, why haven’t we?

Believe me, the irony is not lost on us.

Growing up, the extent of our family’s travel was a 3-hour car ride out east. Professionals advised my parents against having my brother Jeff travel via airplane because of his sensory issues. So we just never did. It was fine. Our family vacations have always been wonderful, just different. It is the way it is.

My parents, bless them, have encouraged Tommy and I to go and see the world. They financed each and every trip and encouraged us to live each experience to the fullest. Believe me, I did, drinking in every moment, but something was always missing. Jeff.

Autism has always been a part of me. I don’t want to be dramatic, but I can literally trace every single decision back to autism in some way. I never thought anything of it. We come from a small town where everyone knows us and looks out for Jeff. During my times away, I wasn’t Jeff’s sister, I was just Alison. No amount of explaining Jeff can do him justice. He is so much more than just words, he is my heart. Majority of my post-high school friends have an unclear picture of my brother.

I have lived my life, often times to extremes. Nothing is ever really mundane and the pendulum swings. Returning home always brings me back to center, to a balance.

Osho (2006), a professor of philosophy and guru, takes the approach of Lao Tzu, “Balance is something that comes out of experiencing all the dimensions of life. Balance is something that happens […] Balance has tremendous beauty and grace.”Jeffrey navigates through life in a beautiful and graceful way. He is inspiring. Jeffrey shows me true beauty and he really is my grace.

But rather than get on my enlightened urbanite horse, I will quote Hoddington Carter that says more than any blog I can ever write. Carter says, “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings.”

My parents have given me my wings. They have given me the tools to be successful, but more importantly the love and support to forge my own path. They have shown me how to treat people and how to live a full life through their stellar example. I hope they know that I carry them with me everywhere and just how grateful I am.

But it is Jeffrey that has given me roots. For I know every time I head home to visit, I will cater to his every need. He will continue to point out every imperfection on my face and I will continue to dance or sing to him on cue. No matter what I may deem important or value in a materialistic sense will all be left at the door.

Because if there is one thing I have learned about autism, is that it strips you down. Jeffrey doesn’t care about the fluff: what cool event I went to or fabulous article of clothing I just acquired. He just wants his sister. And his sister, I will always be.

Look out New York City!

Jeff posing with some custom artwork for my new place

Click here to download the Sibling Support Tool Kit. This tool kit is for children who have a brother or sister diagnosed with autism. Though the guide has been designed for children ages 6-12, the information can be adapted as needed to other age and education levels. The guide is written in an interactive format so parents and siblings can set aside some quiet time to read the guide together. The intention is to create an opportunity for siblings to focus on their feelings, reactions to their sibling’s diagnosis and get information about autism.

Osho. (2006). The book of understanding. (p. 26). New York: Crown Publishing. Retrieved from http://ow.ly/7jbxm
  1. Carol Dyer
    November 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Once again you make me use the tissues!!!
    I know how exciting this move will be for you….and you are so ready for it.
    You always have the the country home and “one day” we all will be down for dinner and ice-cream, but ….we will be home to the Pearl to sleep!!
    Love you lots, xoxo Mom

  2. Janet
    November 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Good luck on your move and the adventures it will bring.

  3. napafriendsclub
    November 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Great blog and good luck using your wings. That is a great quote.

  4. Nan Leonard
    November 5, 2011 at 8:35 am

    What a great story! Good luck, Aly!

  5. Debbie
    November 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    What a wonderful and remarkable story..!!!!! To see a sibling, or anyone for that fact, express what you just did is so honest and loving… I wish you much joy and happiness in your life, in whatever you do…. But, what you’ve already done, to come to love and want to be with your brother, is the greatest gift you’ll ever receive or share… I hope you never lose these feelings, and that they will grow stronger through the years…. Just make time for your life and your dreams… That is what Jeff would want for you, I’m sure… !!!!

  6. Uncle Bob
    November 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Beautiful blog Ali!!!! Your love for Jeff is so inspiring as is his love for you.Love that picture of Jeff making those drawings he made for you.
    All the best to you in your move to NYC.

    LOve, Uncle Bob

  7. Robbie Salberg
    November 6, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Your story is beautiful and inspiring! All the best on spreading yours wings.

  8. Patronus Charm
    November 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    What a wonderful sister you are — Jeff, and all of your family, must be so proud of you.

    Best wishes on your move!

  9. November 7, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Go, Ali!! And thanks for the great picture of Jeff. You’re right–he’s a handsome guy.

  10. John Scott Holman
    November 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Wonderful Ali! Very touching! Homerun!

  11. November 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Very nicely shared, Ali.

  12. Hayley Aydelott
    November 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I’m 17, finishing my senior year in high school, and preparing for college next fall. My brother Brian is 22, and was diagnosed with autism when he was 7. “Moving out” was an incredibly inspirational story to read, and I thank you SO much for that. There have been many times when I have been concerned and overwhelmed thinking about the unknown of the future, relative to Brian, and me leaving him to pursue my life as an adult in the world. You’ve helped me realize that I will never truly leave Brian. He has and always will be my everything.

    Thank you so much for writing.

  13. Noreen
    November 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    So exciting! Good luck on your new adventure and I love to hear about your “anti-fluff” relattionship with your brother. Also, you are very fortunate for your parents and the generosity and love they have bestowed on you. I hope you stay grounded in their love and wish you all well! Yes, your brother is a handsome guy! I hope he is doing well also with his move. Keep us all posted.

  14. faith alvarez
    November 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    what a great story… tears roll on my eyes.. it really inspire me to best that i can be.. yeah, it really hard to leave a person if that person touches your life so much. i, myself had really hard time to do that, so i stay for good.
    actually, i’m a caregiver to my cousin who autism.., i’ve been with her for almost 8 years, and i really had a great time with her. from her i learned a lot…. goodluck n God bless on your new journey Ali..

  15. jess
    November 11, 2011 at 6:18 am

    oh ali, it’s no surprise that i’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. i love you so and hope upon hope that my katie can look at the world through such a wonderful, loving lens someday. may your journey be as blessed as its beginning.

  16. Sharon
    November 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Yes life is a struggle but the feeling of being needed will never leave. God bless your brother for being someone who is just himself and makes you appreciate the special relationship you all have. My son Patrick was never diagnosed with Autism and seemed to have struggled with all the symptoms of Asperger’s. His brother and he had a very close relationship, sad to say my son Patrick passed away at 31 years of age. But not before leaving an indelible impression of love on his brother, one that I hope will get him through as he struggles with the fact that he is now alone.

  17. November 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Good 4 u jeff u are the future PEACE-GOD BLESS us all

  18. Monika
    November 13, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Oh, I’m nearly speachless..you express yourself so clearly!! I’m a mother of a beautiful 12-year-old son, the love of my life! He has autism and I recognize every single word that you say! I feel so thankful for every thing he has showed me that I didn’t know before. He doesn’t speak, PECS is hard, but he has the most wonderful eyecontact and he is really living here and now! True, the fluff doesn’t mean a thing :)
    / With love, Monika in Sweden.

  19. November 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    This is beautiful. Tears flowed when I read “He is so much more than just words, he is my heart.” As a parent to a four year old with autism, I feel this, but I am heartened to know that siblings feel this deep connection as well. I hope my little girl feels this way about her big brother as well.

  20. Mamma
    November 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    That was simply beautiful. I believe my daughter would share your sentiments exactly about her brother with autism. Thanks for sharing your wonderful relationship with us.

  21. Denise
    November 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    This is beautiful. Tears flowed when I read this as well . Love your quote “He is so much more than just words, he is my heart.” As a parent of a 10 year old child with Autism. I see the deep connection my boys have. Hope & pray it always stay that way. Thank you for sharing your story it’s beautiful. Best wishes on your new adventure in life. I try every day to give my child the tools to grow, the roots, and the wings.

  22. Sandy
    November 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Ali thank you for your inspiring words. best of luck to you and your move. Your words i hold dear as I will be launching my son soon and that I can only hope his sister looks to him with the love you have for your brother. Its a blessing and an inspiration. Thank you.

  23. Emily McLain
    November 14, 2011 at 11:45 am

    What a wonderful sister you are. Thank you for the inspiring story. My autistic grandson is 11, and his typical sister is 4. She doesn’t quite understand him yet, but I know she will, and I hope they have the relationship you and your brother have. Thanks again for the story

  24. Francesca Ficocello
    November 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Francesca hope you like this! Thought of you when I read it!

  25. November 16, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Great article and awesome post.I read your moving out information and very impressed.I agree with your information.

  26. Janice
    November 17, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Ali – a wonderful and thoughtful story!! Love you, Aunt Janice

  27. Debbie
    November 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Ali, you’ve truly touched my heart. As the mother of a child who has dealt with severe sensory and processing disorders all of his life (He was never formally diagnosed, but his therapists thought it was probably autism spectrum.), I have often wondered how his brothers feel about our family life now that they are all adults. Thank you for sharing your feelings and view of life.

  1. February 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

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