Sophie and Liam have an inseparable bond as brother and sister. She is neurotypical and Liam is autistic, diagnosed when he was two years old. Sophie shares her sibling perspective on their mutually supportive relationship.
Liam was born 359 days after me. He is my best friend and my one true life partner.
Honestly, I’m writing this so that if anyone ever feels as though they are overwhelmed by their sibling’s autism diagnosis, I would like to think this can help them. The truth is I don’t have much recollection of our early days—the days of no eye contact and what I thought was ignorance.
My baby brother, who I would call my twin, was different but not in an obvious way. My god, he’s the most special person. It didn’t matter that he didn’t answer me when I called his name or wouldn’t look me in the eyes. I didn’t mind when he made me sit on the floor while he walked in circles around me and his Teletubby toys that were all perfectly lined up. He was my brother and this was the way it was. It was okay because that’s what he needed to do to make the day easier for himself.
I’ve always had a good understanding of autism, not so much knowing what it was when I was a kid but I’ve always understood it, which I feel is like my superpower. I’ve come across people, a lot more people than I’m happy with, who all believe that autistic people don’t have emotions, are rude and self-involved. However, I think they are amazing because they see the world in such a fascinating and different way.
Liam is the complete opposite of those autism stereotypes.
He’s kind, cute, charismatic, very overdramatic, and incredibly smart. I cannot even begin to describe how funny he is.
I know that once my mother is too old to be there the way she is now I’ll be able to be there for him. But it’s important to let you know that HE is there for me too. He checks on me when I’m upset and, even though he doesn’t know why I’m crying, he’ll wipe away my tears and come to check on me every five minutes.
For someone who cannot speak, or to the very least is only basic verbal, it’s almost as though we have a telepathic connection. His eyes say what no one else’s words can. He is honestly the only person who truly understands me, calms me and keeps me grounded.
Liam and I have a truly authentic relationship.
No one tries to get anything from the other. We don’t judge. We simply enjoy being in the same room together. I hope he knows how much he’s helped me through the years. He kept me breathing, through all of the anxiety, panic attacks and depression I suffered. He kept me “human.” Liam has made me a kind, caring, empathetic, understanding and patient person.
I never once resented Liam and the attention he got from my parents. I never once wanted to change him. I never once wished things were different. I have never once wanted HIM to be different.
He has conquered every challenge in his life, with struggle, but he did it.
Liam has worked hard to develop himself. I actually cried once when I saw him sitting with the ‘lads’ having fun with them in his own way. He is a social butterfly.
He is my person. My best friend. My soulmate.
Without him I wouldn’t be Sophie. So, for that I’m grateful for the kind soul that is Liam.
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