Home > Family Services > Voices of Autism: A brother’s perspective

Voices of Autism: A brother’s perspective

This blog post is by Andy Shumaker. His brother Matthew has autism. Andy is a graduate of Yale University.

My brother doesn’t like me very much, and I don’t blame him.

It’s not that I’m a bad person, or that I don’t treat him nicely. It’s not that he’s unfriendly. I think it’s just hard to like someone who’s a lot luckier than you are.

Matthew was born a couple of years before I was, but somewhere along the way I became the older brother. I think I started speaking more than he did early on, not that we cared at the time. But as we grew older, the milestones started to matter.

The driver’s license was a big one. In east bay suburbia, it’s a given that on your 16th birthday you go to the DMV and take the test. It’s all you talk about when you’re a sophomore in high school, and when Matthew was that age, he probably heard about it every day when he walked alone through the halls.

He would talk to my mom about how excited he was to get his license; she would try to disabuse him of this illusory desire as gently as possible. But he was adamant. He wrote his name in Sharpie on my mom’s license plate. One time he got in her car and, instead of backing out of the garage, put it in drive and drove through the wall.

I, the neurotypical one, got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday, when Matthew was 18. According to Matthew, though, I wasn’t allowed to drive. I was younger than he was, so it made no sense for me to have rights that he didn’t.

When I needed to drive somewhere and Matthew was at home, my parents would have to drop me off at the end of our street before walking back home.

Matthew knew what was up, and he would give me a stern warning about the dangers of driving the next day. Whenever he caught me trying to sneak out of the garage, he would run out and scream at me.

Things have changed since then. After he got over the screaming thing, he displaced the driving ban onto Michael, our next-door neighbor who is Matthew’s age. This went on for a few years– when he saw me driving, I would have to roll down the window, and he would tell me that Michael wasn’t allowed to drive, to which I would always agree before going on my way. Today, after seven years, I’m allowed to drive, but not if he’s in the car.

Matthew can drive, if he feels like it. My dad drives him to the parking lot of the church near our house. Then they switch seats, Matthew drives in circles, and my dad’s hand rests on the emergency brake.

But it’s not just about the car. Matthew and I don’t really get along when we’re around the house, and I think it all has to do with jealousy.

I am very lucky.<Matthew knows that I have no trouble making friends, and he knows that I have a girlfriend. He knows that I’m more independent than he is, and that I go to college.

Sometimes I accidentally beat him when we play video games together.

If I enter the room when he’s not in the mood to see me, he comically turns and shields me from his presence, essentially giving me the most literal version of the “cold shoulder” I have ever seen. I’m not allowed to pat him on the back without permission. When he apologizes to me or says something nice to me, it’s usually because my parents have made him do it.

The good news is that things are getting better all the time. The breakthroughs are gratifying.

Our most recent visit to my grandfather’s house in Carmel was a big one.

I got back from the beach a half hour before we were supposed to drive home. Matthew was sulking on Grandpa’s bed, and I asked him what was up.

“I really want to go to the candy shop all by myself but my mother won’t let me,” he said. There is a little shop on Ocean Avenue where Matthew likes to buy jelly beans.

“Well, why don’t we go together?” I ventured.

“I don’t know,” he said hesitantly.

“Come on, let’s go.” I said it forcefully. Matthew sighed.


He must have really wanted those jelly beans.

So we set off down the street toward Ocean Avenue. He even tried out some conversation starters that I hadn’t heard before.

“So, how’s it goin’?” he asked in a rather nuanced, jocular tone.

I told him it was goin’ great. Told him I went swimming in the ocean.

“It must have been cold!” he said.

After our first few exchanges, the trip to the candy shop was pretty quiet. Matthew likes to think when he walks. I like to think that he was thinking, among other things, about jelly beans, and about how his younger brother isn’t so bad after all.

The trip to the candy shop was a good breakthrough, and when you have a less-than-satisfactory relationship with your autistic older brother, you take what you can get. I think it will keep getting better as we grow older, and I hope his jealousy will fade in some ways.

Like I said, I don’t blame him if he doesn’t like me. It’s hard to like someone who’s a lot luckier than you are.

I just hope that some day, he realizes that one of the luckiest things that happened to me was him.

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.

  1. November 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Wow, this was very emotional for me. Thank you so much for sharing. I have 4 yr old twin girls, 1 with Autism and you’ve made me think about things I wasn’t prepared to think about yet, but at the same time it’s a good thing. I need to plan for these types of encounters and issues that may arise. You’re a great brother and I’m sure Matthew knows it although he may not really know how to tell you that. Many blessings to you both!

  2. November 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you for such a wonderful story. I often felt guilty for being the “normal one”. I miss my brother terribly, he past on June 5, 2010. He was 57 years old. The doctors said he was the oldest autistic person they ever had seen. I have so many stories about growing up with my brother (oldest of 5) but his death is too new and I am very emotional. I loved your story!! :)

    • Silk
      November 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      I didn’t think autism had anything whatsoever to do with age…afterall, it is not a killing disease. I’d like to know more about this longevity issue!

      SILK @ http://autismrox.wordpress.com

  3. Leslie Gilpin
    November 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    That made me cry. My younger daughter has become the big sister as well. My girls are 6 and 9. I am glad that Rileigh is not jealous of Tootsie. Rileigh is severly autistic, and for now she just sees Tootsie as another person in her life that can help her. She is frustrated by all the things she can’t do, but doesn’t seem to question her lot in life. You are such an amazing brother. Your older brother is lucky to have someone so understanding and generous. I feel like Tootsie is a better person for having Rileigh in her life. Dropped into any situation, she will stick up for classmates, and is so concerned with everyone elses feelings.

  4. Jill Besonen
    November 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Awesome perspective!!! Nice job, Andy. Not an easy road for you to have a brother with such a mysterious diagnosis!! I have a son who has autism..he’s definitely a blessing to our lives, as well!! We also have a younger boy, who looks after his older brother in such a neat way..he’s only four, and his big brother is 8. So sweet to see them interact, and “talk” even if our “Cam” doesn’t say anything. I imagine someday we will all hear this type of perspective coming from our younger boy, too. You have given me hope that all will be okay.
    Thanks for sharing, and for being such a blessing to your brother!! It takes all of us to help others be successful in life. Take care…

  5. Norma Trujillo
    November 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm


  6. Rawan
    November 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    “I just hope that some day, he realizes that one of the luckiest things that happened to me was him.” I relate to that .. totally!
    LOVED this post.. and I hope you will support your brother all the way.. no matter how hard it gets.. As I am supporting my brother :)

    ALL the best :)

  7. Rhi
    November 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    This story choked me up. I have boys that are two years apart, ages 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, and my oldest has autism, while the younger one is neurotypical. My oldest son already gives his brother the cold shoulder. It’s refreshing to hear your outlook on it. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Ileana Morales
    November 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Andy you are a Great brother!!!

  9. November 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    God bless Andy, because he was able to recognize, and accept that his brother, Michael was different, that he made some situations difficult . . . that his brother was autistic, but Michael was his brother.

  10. susy
    November 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you so much for this story. I think my kids are heading this route. This will really help me :)

  11. November 9, 2011 at 12:55 am

    thanks for sharing

  12. November 9, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Dear Andy – your story is universally moving and touched me. I am the mom of 7 kids – and though none have autism, we’ve struggled in other ways. My husband recently passed on, and I think you will enjoy this song written by our oldest son, Jon. He played it for David the day before he passed, on Father’s day, and Mike (the other son) was able to record it. He had just written it, so he stumbles over the lyrics at one point, but it’s so beautiful I had to share it with you!
    God Bless you,

  13. Lisa
    November 9, 2011 at 3:46 am

    Need help with siblings understanding brother having Autism!!

    • Leharna Campbell
      December 3, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      My 5 yr old son is autistic. I tell the children in my family’s life who inquire, “What’s wrong with [son’s name?]”, that his brain works differently to yours. He’s not stupid or doesn’t understand, he just understands in a different way. He can still play with you if he wants, but he probably will just want to play near you. Treat him the same, and talk to him the same, but sometimes he will want to do different things, and will answer in a different way. I do admit, that being non-verbal, and hence learning sign language, has reinforced this even more for those children, but I also admit, those children who have grown up with my son are some of the most compassionate and tolerant children I know.

  14. teresa lovic
    November 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I know five different families with an autistic child. One is the older brother with autism. I wish I had their e-mail to send this to their Mom. God bless you for the love and understanding you have over the years.

  15. Dawn Gullage
    November 9, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Powerful and emotional. I have 2 girls 19 months apart. My 10 year old has autism. It is so hard for the siblings, however, this story brings light. Thank you

  16. Joi Kenny
    November 9, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Such a great story. Your are such a wonderful brother. This definitely had me in tears. My girls are far apart in age my oldest will be 13 next month and is on the spectrum. Her little sister is almost 4 and this sounds so familar, My oldest will laugh and just stare at her very outgoing neurotypical sister and say “wow how does she know that” or “she acts like a teenager”. My neurotypical daughter is so emotional and loves her big sister so much. I always have to tell big sis “now tell her you love her too”. It breaks my heart and I hope that little sis will just continue to tell her everyday she loves her without hearing it back like we do. Not an easy journey for you as well but you are both lucky to have each other. Know that he really loves you so much even if you don’t hear it as much as you’d like.

  17. Annette
    November 9, 2011 at 9:25 am

    This was such a beautiful story and thank you for sharing it. I choked up when I read it because I have a 6yr old with autism and a 2yr old. The 2yr old does not realize his older brother has autism yet, they play together very well. My oldest son is verbal and it took him a while, but now he is actively playing with his little brother and making connections. I know you have had so hard times with Matthew but you are such a wonderful brother to understand that he cannot help how he feels and what he does. God Bless you Andy for being such an amazing brother. Again, thank you for sharing your story.

  18. Barbara P
    November 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. It brings tears to my eyes. Glad your so understanding of you older brother. My daughter is 15 months younger then my son. They are 11 and 10. I will have to wait and see what happens in a few more years.

  19. Barbara P
    November 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

    i love the pictures you are both handsome boys!!!!

  20. AnnieS
    November 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    That was a beautiful story. A sibling is usually your longest relationship and you are a great role model for all neurotypical siblings. Best always.

  21. November 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    This was a beautifully written account; thank you so much for sharing your life with us!

  22. November 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    My favorite thing about this is the last photo. I can’t tell which brother is the author of the piece. Instead I see only two brothers supporting each other. Lovely.

  23. raga
    November 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    That last paragraph choked me up.

  24. November 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Beautiful post — he’s lucky to have someone so loving in his life. It sounds as if you’re lucky, too…

    Continued well wishes to you and your family!


  25. Rae
    November 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Really lovely post. It’s strange because your relationship as siblings is probably different than most siblings, but at the same time it’s still exactly the same.

  26. November 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Sounds like you both are very lucky. Thanks for sharing, I mean it…thank you.

  27. sbockelsmith
    November 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    You are a brilliant writer for such a young man. Thank you for your poignant and touching post.

  28. November 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Hey Andy what an awesome post. I have a 2 sons and my older son has Down Syndrome. I am definitely going to send my younger son a link of your post. What a fantastic read. Congratulations to you for supporting Matthew, you both have been blessed to be part of each others lives. May you continue your bond of brotherhood and keep us inspired with your posts.

  29. November 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Hey Andy, that was awesome!!.. I have 2 kids one with autism and they have a great relationship as well it’s nice to see that someone else in the world goes through the same thing and appericates their siblings. Your awesome.

  30. November 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you for your story. It was nice for me to hear from a siblings perspective. My son has Autism as well as other neurological issues. My daughter is ten years younger than my son and she has been his big sister since she was about five. Life has has often felt like a roller coaster ride on a lose track but we’ve had wonderful times and we were able to build remarkable memories. My son doesn’t understand this but in many ways he’s my teacher and I’m a better person for having him in my life. I hope your lives together will be rewarding.

  31. November 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    As an older sister of a brother who has autism, I feel I can relate in some ways to your experience. It can be hard sometimes, but you see the talents of the person no matter whether that they have a disability. Sometimes I do feel sad that my brother, even though he is 19, still has yet to feel so independent and go out by himself. Usually he is dependent on me and my boyfriend, or our older sister. But we try very hard to teach him as much as possible, and gradually he is getting there.

    Your story is so wonderful to read and very emotional.
    Keep up with being a great brother to him.

  32. November 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm


  33. November 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Thankyou for sharing yours and your brothers life with us. Yet again I have read something which makes me grateful for being exactly who I am.

  34. November 10, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    What an eye-opening view. Autism is very individually different isn’t it? I hope Matthew realizes how lucky you feel to have him too.

  35. November 10, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    This is beautiful. You are a wonderful writer and were really able to convey the emotion of this piece beautifully… You are a very kind brother and I admire your patience through the hard times!

  36. yvonnerenee
    November 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    You wrote an amazing story that made me fight back my tears. My oldest daughter of four children is autistic (28yo). Although she has a bachelors degree, she cannot drive. She has since accepted it as her younger 2yo brother and I take her wherever she needs to go. It’s funny when I think of them growing up because I remember when she used to treat him as coldly as a stranger until he was about 5yo and then out of the blue, everything he did was so funny and cute to her she would just crack up and laugh herself into hysterical tears. It was like we brought him home from the hospital and she found out that she had a younger brother who was 5 yo..

  37. November 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    It’s never too late to have a relationship with your siblings. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  38. November 10, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    My kid’s got Autism. I don’t think he’ll ever have a brother or a sister, but thanks for sharing this with everyone. It gives me some insight as to “what could have been”.

  39. November 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    um, you can’t call this blog ‘voices of autism’ if all the voices you’re featuring are not autistic. >.>
    although, the blog itself was amazing.

  40. November 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Have you ever seen the movie, “Rain Man” with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman? They play brothers, one of whom is autistic. It is a lovely expression of the bond between brothers.


  41. Shelbabie
    November 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    This was emotional and beautiful. I love your description and the tone used throughout the piece it was very– this is how it was– at times it seemed as though you did not entirely understand why you did some of the things that you did. However, at the ending of the article, it all came together nicely making a beautiful and inspiring read. BRAVO.

  42. November 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I work with many children and adolescents in the autism spectrum and with their siblings. I also work to educate professionals about these wonderful people. This is an awesome tribute to an older brother.

  43. November 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I loved this, thank you for sharing (and ultimately making me cry at work!) :)

  44. Tear on the body of freedom
    November 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I just hope that some day, he realizes that one of the luckiest things that happened to me was him.

    I hope that day will come.

    Thomas Edison said:

    Genius is one percent inspiration, and
    ninety-nine percent perspiration.

  45. November 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    It is so apparent by your writing how much you love your brother. He is so lucky to have you in his life. I also commend your honest way of living with someone with autism,

  46. November 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you for this blog. My son is 47, has a learning disability and Asperger’s Syndrome. What you wrote reminded me of when he was in his teens and watched his younger sisters progressing in a way he could not, but like you, we all feel very lucky that he is part of our family.

  47. November 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and special story with us. It certainly gives an honest and better understanding of autism and its impact.

  48. thuriayaa
    November 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Really made me cry a lot, tears just rolled down so much. It is hard. i have siblings with such illness. Sometimes get very fed up.

    Thanks a lot.

    i hope you give your brother a good company like that….

  49. Thomas
    November 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    One of the most difficult stories to write is one about yourself. Great job. Thanks for sharing.

  50. November 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I am autistic and my sister is not. I wish my sister would acknowledge her privilege over me… She thinks I’ve chosen a more difficult life than hers… but I’m terrified that she secretly views herself as the older sister. She is allowed not to care. I never was.

  51. November 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Very good story.

  52. November 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Powerful. Thank you. Eyes and heart welling up.

  53. November 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Andy, this is such a beautiful, touching and inspiring story. Both of you are lucky to have each other. Thank you for sharing.

  54. Silk
    November 10, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    It is about TIME an Autism-related post became Freshly Pressed!

    I have been lurking about the wordpress edges for almost 2 years now. I think the subject is typically too sensitive and uncomfortable for WordPress to address, in the way of posting Spectrum/Autism related blogs to the Front Page. Which upsets me…

    Indeed, they wait untill the official blog of Autism Speaks has something they bother to publish.

    Oh, well. Many of us on the Spectrum are so used to being ignored. This does not lessen our fury about that!

    I have just begun to post simple affirmations with positive follow-ups, a way to strengthen those of any age, or their caretakers, living with autism. My site is so quiet, I invite someof you to dtrop by and please comment…how else will I know what others are thinking?


  55. November 10, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Wow – loved this entry! I have a son who is High Functioning Autistic and a daughter who does not have those challenges. Early on I had the feeling her accomplishments could go un-noticed and that her needs could be unintentionally put on the back burner. Thank you for giving her a voice… she’s only 5, but i’m sure when she starts to understand a little bit better she’ll realize that she’s not alone – I sincerely thank you for that :)

  56. November 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I think you really just summed it all up. As someone else said, I really liked how through out the whole post – there wasnt a whole lot about how YOU felt about your brother, but the ending line sums everything up. I hope you both realize how lucky you are to have each other. Well done.

  57. joahnadiyosa
    November 10, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Oh.. what a lovely post. You must really be a very loving and supporting brother. ^^ Keep the spirit high! :)

  58. November 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Oh God. This is so beautiful. I have to admit that I’m jealous of you two. Your brother is very lucky to have you as his younger brother and vice versa. I’m jealous. Really. I am.

  59. November 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    My little (well, 18-year-old) brother recently discovered, “How’s it goin’?” as well. We siblings of people with autism get good at recognizing the not-so-dramatic ways they attempt to reach out to us. It’s nice to know my appreciation is shared.

  60. Kelly
    November 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I have a son with High Functioning Autism and frustration and jealousy are definitely emotions he deals with constantly. Once he told me, “You’re lucky, Mom. You might be paralyzed but you can feel the peace of God.” I pray that he and all of the kids who deal with autism, find peace.

  61. November 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Come visit my blog and you will see my journey with my newly adult special needs son.

  62. November 10, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Great post, I really enjoyed it! I’m glad you and your brother are improving your relationship; family bonds are the best ones.

  63. November 10, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Well written Andy. I enjoyed reading your perspective. You kept it interesting, there was a quick version of your life and you brought it together nicely at the end.

    It is interesting to me how we can live our lives with a lessons right under our noses, and we don’t see it until we are ready to see it. Everyone needs a little acceptance and compassion, but not all of us know how to show it or ask for it.
    You were meant to write that blog post.Thank you.

  64. Janet S
    November 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I have two daughters. The younger has become the older, too. My oldest is autistic, but has a hearing impairment as well as cognitive impairments. The scenario is pretty much the same. The driving thing was an issue for us, too. We were fortunate enough (if you want to call it that) to be able to pull the “hearing” card. We explained to our older daughter that you have to be able to hear well to drive. That sufficed enough until the phase passed. College and living independently are the current woos. But through it all I would not trade my daughters for the world. I think my youngest would agree that her sister is one of the best things that has happened to her. Thanks for your inspirational story. :D

  65. November 11, 2011 at 12:05 am

    What a beautiful story of brothers and their lives. Very touching and honest. Really speaks to the heart. Great work! I just love how WordPress brings these stories to me…


  66. November 11, 2011 at 12:20 am


  67. kympossibility
    November 11, 2011 at 12:37 am

    That is soooo sweet, what a lovely brother you are to say that he is one of the best things that happened to you. I also have an Austic Brother, he can not talk and rarely communicates but I still love him. I also have an aspergus brother, your posts reminds me of him.

  68. November 11, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I loved the end of this post, I think it’s wonderful having a sibling and you do end up just being very lucky to have them. I’m sure that any milestones you can get you’ll take, and in the end, he loves you very much and you love him very much too. It’s just sometimes those people you are closet to can have a funny way of showing it.

  69. November 11, 2011 at 1:06 am

    very intriguing…

  70. letscriticize
    November 11, 2011 at 1:28 am
  71. November 11, 2011 at 3:07 am

    Wow thank you for sharing, what an amazing piece. You are such a good brother, and your love and understanding is really inspirational.

  72. November 11, 2011 at 3:20 am

    This is very well written.

  73. November 11, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience. My son is 15 and autistic.For now, he is content to allow us to drive him around. He does offer helpful advice, though. “Red stop. Red stop. Green go. Green go.” Yellow must be too ambiguous. It never even get’s mentioned. :)

  74. November 11, 2011 at 3:58 am

    i liked reading a bit of your story; i will read more!! but i have to feel like reading in english.. im from holland you see. but i just wanted to say; i liked your writing style! =)

  75. Life's amazing journey
    November 11, 2011 at 4:06 am

    That was such a great insight. I loved hearing your view of your sibling relationship.

  76. November 11, 2011 at 4:09 am

    i wished any one of my two nephews, two years apart, is autistic, then maybe they will have much better relationship.. they are normal not-in-speaking-term brothers since i can remember… they hit each other, they dont talk respectfully to each other.. it hurts their mom as well as all we who love them… they have an autistic little sister… and she is very timid,, very sweet girl… sumtimes, you’d think, being a person with special need could be much better than one who has got everything except forgiving heart to his brother/sister… your story inspired me as well as made me sadder for my two nephews.. but as long as there’s life, there’s hope… :)

  77. punchawhale
    November 11, 2011 at 4:27 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post. My brother has autism and I don’t know a lot of other people who understand what it’s like to know somebody with autism. It’s really good that you’re writing about this – I can see by this long list of comments that it’s touched a lot of people.

  78. Vergielyn Holmes
    November 11, 2011 at 4:35 am

    wonderful :)

  79. November 11, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Wow, i read this, and thought how your older brother Matthew must feel about you is most likely how my older autistic sister felt about myself and our much older sister, this really has opened my eyes. I am going to share this to a couple of parent friends of mine who have autistic children with non autistic siblings.

    I am glad things are getting better between you as brothers, well done for getting on Freshly Pressed. xx

  80. November 11, 2011 at 6:41 am

    This really touched me. My younger brother – also Matthew – was born when I was 9 and my sister was 6, and he has autism. I think because of the age gap, we were always guilty of babying him, and I suppose to an extent we always will, even now he’s 15 and taller than us! It’s interesting to hear about your different perspective being the younger sibling.

    Because Matt’s severely autistic and has limited speech, I don’t think he’s too aware of his differences, which is perhaps a blessing. All I know is that he really relies on all of us, and loves us as much as he can do. Your last line is so perfect and rings true – I hope Matt knows one day the joy he’s brought to our family.

    Thanks so much for sharing :-)

  81. November 11, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Inspiring :’)

  82. November 11, 2011 at 7:46 am

    This is an amazing post. I can understand that at times it must have been difficult for you growing up, but I’m glad that no matter what happends you still love your brother.
    Thanks for this post. Sometimes you never know what you got till its gone.

    Evie xxx

  83. November 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I wish my daughter had a brother like you. Keep trying!

  84. November 11, 2011 at 8:19 am

    A wonderful, soul-stirring and heartfelt story.
    jacquirose17.wordpress.com (Austism: A Different Perspective)

  85. wtfkr
    November 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I was moved by this. Your brother is really lucky to have you :))

  86. merry203
    November 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

    It’s wonderful to see how much you love your brother! I also hope that things get better with time! =)

    Greetings from Spain!

  87. ecr1979
    November 11, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Thats a very emotional story, and one very hard to live through especially if you dont understand autism. patience is essential. I have a 4 yr old son who was diagnosed with autism in jan, and only on weds was also diagnosed with fragile x syndrome which is a cause of autism too.

    How lucky your brother is to have a brother who doesnt give up when it would be so easy to.

  88. Morris A.
    November 11, 2011 at 9:45 am

    What a wonderful insight into sucha powerful condition. Many of us do not really understand its depth until it touches us in a member of our family or a close friend. My daughter works closely with autistic children and has been able to bless us with much needed awareness. Thank you for sharing.

  89. November 11, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I must admit that until I had the opportunity to interview Lauren Henry (With a Brush of Love: Children With Autism and Special Needs), I did not truly appreciate or understand autism beyond the 1979 film titled “Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love.

    Thank you for sharing.

    By the way, here is the link to the interview; http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jon-hansen/2010/09/02/with-a-brush-of-love-children-with-autism-and-spec

  90. November 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for sharing. I have a nephew with Aspergers. My gown son was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid but I have my doubts since he shares many of the same symptoms with his cousin. Good luck, Andy and Matthew!



  91. embracingspirit
    November 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Beautiful. Thank you for speaking the words many siblings might feel. I often wonder how my boys internalize what it must be like to have a sister with autism.

  92. November 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    My son is on the Autism Spectrum and I often marvel at his little sister’s ability to lead her older brother into new experiences with love and compassion. It is an immeasurable gift.

  93. November 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Wow! What a great article. Thanks!!

  94. November 11, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I loved this post…. It moved me to tears. My younger and only brother has down syndrome and though, our relationship is nothing like yours with your brother, it’s difficult for me too. Me and my bro couldn’t be more attached. When we go out together, we’re always hugging and just being really affectionate to/with each other and sometimes people look at him weirdly, specially kids and sometimes even some friends of mine. Over the years, I’ve learned to not care about what other people say or think about my bro. He’s a huge blessing and I love him just the way he is. Take care!

  95. November 11, 2011 at 11:41 am

    God Bless you, Matthew and your family. It sounds like you are handling the situation well and things like this will make you stronger as you seem to be! Good luck in the future on this trail and people with the same issue are lucky to have you speaking out!

  96. singlegirlmodernworld
    November 11, 2011 at 11:41 am

    That was extremely heart warming and honest. My boyfriend works with mentally and physically disabled children and I hear about the struggles all the time, but when break throughs happen you need to count them for all they are worth. You are very patient and strong. Thank you for sharing!

  97. snapitstitchitstickit: Sarah
    November 11, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Beautifully put Andy. I have someone close to me whose little brother has high-functioning autism and from the outside I can see alot of jealously and insecurities. It’s great you are so aware of yourself, your brother and are trying to work through it all. Best of luck in the future, he’s lucky to have you. Congrat on being freshly pressed too btw!

  98. snapitstitchitstickit: Sarah
    November 11, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Beautifully put Andy. I have someone close to me whose little brother has high-functioning autism and from the outside I can see alot of jealously and insecurities. It’s great you are so aware of yourself, your brother and are trying to work through it all. Best of luck in the future, he’s lucky to have you. Congrats on being freshly pressed too btw!

  99. Kristine
    November 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.

  100. November 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    How many days after his vaccine schedule did he go autistic?

    That’s the real information you should be asking.

    Please let me know…

    • Leharna Campbell
      December 3, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      One doctor began this nonsense, and which has now been confirmed by hundreds of specialists, that his conclusions were unfounded, and insignificantly researched. His reports and research has been quashed to amazing standards. Read beyond something that gives you someone to blame. ASD is a genetic condition. Do something constructive instead of targeting the immunisation system.

  101. November 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I find myself very concerned by this post. Firstly, how can a post be titled “Voices of Autism” when the voice is not of somebody autistic? Secondly, I am autistic and I feel luckier than any neurotypical person to be able to call myself such. Sure, I struggle socially, but instead of seeking pity from those around me, I have learned to get around many of my problems with the help and support (NOT pity!) from my loved ones. Besides, who doesn’t have a few social issues? The benefits of being autistic in my eyes far outweigh the downsides. I am able to look at the world with a different view than anybody else and I am proud of my individuality. To pity me is to insult my source of pride. Temple Grandin once said “I am different, not less,” and I think that holds true of any autistic individual.

    -Nicole, AKA theautistartist

    • Leharna Campbell
      December 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      There was no pity neither requested, or given from this entry. Sharing emotions from one person’s perspective to the world about ASD is an educational experience, and personal journey. I am so happy to hear of your successes in the world, but stop thinking those of us with a “normal” body, pity those of you without. Its compassion and teaching tolerance….and we should have it for each other in this world despite our differences, and frankly “for” our differences too. Continue to teach others about yourself because autism awareness is not high enough, and don’t mistake their interest as pity for you. Good luck.

  102. November 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Wow! I’m in tears. This is exactly what I’m going through right now with my sons. Austin just turned 13 and he’s is very jealous of his little brother Josh who is 2 years younger. Austin has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and is high functioning on the spectrum. Josh was out-talking Austin when he was 2 and Austin was 4. Austin still struggles with speech and language, and social skills, but he’s progressing gradually. Josh is smart and compliant, and makes friends easily. He’s a great younger brother to Austin, but Austin wants to make sure that Josh knows he’s the younger brother, so he teases him and takes things from him all the time. Austin started talking about getting a car and driving the other day, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he might not be able to at 16. Josh will probably be driving before Austin, and we’ll have to cross that bridge soon. I know that Austin loves Josh, even though he’s jealous of him sometimes, and I’m sure that Matthew loves you too Andy, even though he doesn’t know how to express it! Andy, Thanks for sharing your story!

  103. November 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    A wonderful, heartfelt post! My two oldest sons have high-functioning autism, and you’ve given me things to ponder as they grow closer to adulthood. I have no clue who will be able to do what first, if at all, and how that will affect their relationship with each other and their younger sister. Thanks for sharing your perspective and for being so understanding and full of love for your brother. That truly touched my heart.

  104. November 11, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    So honest and warm actually!

  105. Chatter Master
    November 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful Brothers. Thank you for sharing your story. I love the picture of the two of you. And I love that your brother is important to you.

  106. November 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing some of your life with your brother. It is sometimes difficult for us as parents to know all of what our children go through in their relationships with a sibling who is autistic.

  107. November 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Andy, I know your brother through a record store I used to work at on the Central Coast that he likes to visit. I’m very happy to know more about him, and his life. I see people like Matthew all the time–those affected with various developmental disorders–and it becomes easy to forget that behind that person is a whole family of people who love them, but have also had to learn how to deal with people in a way that most of us never will. Thank you very much for sharing.

  108. November 11, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    What a heartfelt story of love. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. Sincerely, Connie Webb

  109. Stephanie
    November 12, 2011 at 9:13 am

    I felt your sincerity and for the first time I thought about my 9 year old typical son and his feelings dealing with a younger autistic brother. I burst into tears thinking of all the things they would not enjoy together. Then, thankfully you renewed me with a small glimpse of hope by sharing your experience of the walk to the store. Thank you for your honesty.

  110. goodlooknout
    November 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Moving… Your a good little/ big brother!

  111. Kalihah Blackwell
    November 12, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Wow! This is a really great article. I enjoyed their story, and I’m glad Andy wrote so candidly about the relationship between he and his brother. I like that he understood his brother’s perspective.

    Short and sweet, quick and powerful; a must-read for anyone involved with autism.

  112. November 12, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I loved reading this.

  113. November 13, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Andy, first i want to say that you’re such a great brother… And your story is inspiring. I think both of your parents are luckier…

  114. November 13, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Andy is such a good brother. This story is so feelable… I think both of their parents are luckier.

  115. Alec
    November 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I have an eleven year old brother who has autism, and he’s pretty nice, not when you irritate him and such. So I hope you have a good time with your autistic brothers and sisters and bye.

    • Alec and Lisa
      November 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      I am Alec’s mom. He is such a beautiful, kind, insightful little boy and brother. As life has dealt him this set of challenges and opportunities, he has become usually mature for his age. He loves his brother dearly, but the violence and chaos takes its toll. He would love to find a group of siblings with whom he can share his frustrations, anger, disappointment about not having a “normal” family. We live in New Haven, CT. If anyone knows of a “talking” sib group, conference or any other venue for sibs, we would be very appreciative. He has gotten so much from being able to respond to your story in his own words. Thank you.

      P.S. Alec wants me to tell you that his brother can also be very kind and loving brother.

  116. November 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

    this story touched me. you are a loving brother. and he is blessed to have you. :-)

    thank you for sharing.

  117. Annie
    November 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    This piece brought tears to my eyes. I’m 46 and my autistic brother is 45. We have a younger sister 42 and growing up he refused to listen to her because she was the youngest. It is still the same because she is so bossy but like Andy said the best thing that has happened to us is Jim our brother. Thank you so much for sharing

  118. December 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    What an awesome story, thank you so much for sharing it! I believe more people should read your story Andy, it’s a story worth sharing.


  119. December 3, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Touching, I know a few people with Autism. It’s sad, but sometimes I think they have an advantage over other. Most of them are quite smart intellectually. I remember the story about the Kid that scored the winning basket for his team. I was amazing. Thanks andy I share this story with friends

  120. Leharna Campbell
    December 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    To Andy, Your situation is very similar to mine, but I am the mother. I have two boys, the older of which is autistic. It worries me significantly at times, about what will happen to my eldest, should something happen to me one day, and if my youngest doesn’t see “the big picture” with his autistic brother. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me, and from the feedback left above, it has helped many others too. Remember this, if nothing else from this experience of yours,…Its maybe not that he doesn’t “like” you, autistic people don’t show emotions well, despite the environment. If there’s something I’ve noticed in my autistic son, its that he does feel emotions, but they come out very wrong. He trusts you enough, and in my opinion, if you don’t have trust, there’s no way you can have any other feelings, like love or admiration. You are a great brother. Good luck in your life’s endeavours. Having a special-needs brother has brought compassion into your life that few others will ever have the pleasure of experiencing. Best Wishes, L Campbell, Qld, Australia.

  1. November 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm
  2. February 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

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