Learning From Autism ~ A Sister’s Perspective

I am blessed to have a unique relationship with each of my siblings.  However, my relationship with Sam probably stands out the most.  Through the years, as I have watched Sam grow up and go through different phases of life, I have seen that Autism is nothing but unpredictable.  Sam is a completely different person today than the baby who wouldn’t talk or look you in the eye.  Now in all his fifteen years of wisdom he is very opinionated and is constantly vying for your attention, sometimes relentlessly.  
Some of my first memories of Sam are from when he was quite young.  I remember observing that Sam behaved in a different way as a baby than my sisters.  Sam was the kid who poured dish soap all over the kitchen floor, took eggs out of the fridge and smashed them on the floor, and ran across the carpet with chocolate syrup leaving a trail wherever he went.  And while every kid can be mischievous there were just certain things that set Sam apart.  
I remember when I first understood what my parents were saying when they told me Sam had Autism.  To me it meant that he thought and processed things differently than everyone else, but that it wasn’t a bad thing.  I knew that having Autism would be challenging for Sam and for our family, and I couldn’t understand why God had chosen to make Sam this way.  Watching Sam go through this much of his life with Autism has taught me so much and has made me immensely proud to be his sister.  I never thought that there would come a day when Sam would start going to a Classical Christian school and thrive as he has. He has shown me that Autism isn’t an excuse for not giving something your all even though it is harder for you to succeed at something than other people.  Sam’s skills, persistence, and dedication have shown me that Autism truly is unpredictable.

Sam has taught me many other things besides what it means to be Autistic.  His quirky outlook on life and continuous telling of knock-knock jokes has showed me that laughter is a key part of life.  Sam is the master at laughing at himself and refusing to be embarrassed, something I know I am not good at by any means.  Whenever there is a dance floor you can be sure that Sam is right in the middle of it giving it all his white-boy rhythm.  Sam refuses to let how others might perceive him interfere with his enjoyment of life. 
 On a more serious note, Sam has taught me the importance of family.  In his very own way Sam is always there for me whenever I face hard times.  Sam is protective of all of his sisters and is always willing to offer  advice, random and unrelated though it may be.  I am confident that Sam is willing to slay any dragons that come my way, even if it comes in the challenge of a nerf gun war.  I am so thankful that God has brought me closer to my siblings over the years because they are truly my best friends.  

Now that I am twenty years old I am better able to comprehend what it means for Sam to have Autism.  How it will affect his life and ours in challenging and positive ways.  It is hard to say where I think Sam’s life is headed, but I trust that God has a plan for him that is better than any I could ever comprehend.  

When I was younger I questioned why God gave Sam to our family specifically.  Why He thought we were the best fit for a little boy with Autism.  Now every day I am reminded of why our family needs Sam.  God knew exactly what he was doing when he gifted our family with Sam.  
Sometimes I still struggle with the fact that Sam will not have a normal life.  However, Sam finds joy in whatever God gives him to do, as long as it doesn’t include physical labor.  I could not imagine life without a six-foot Autistic brother that hides in the shower to scare me half to death in the mornings.  Sam completes our family in a way that only his Autistic self could.  For me, having an Autistic brother is a reminder that God gives us far greater blessings than we could ever earn or deserve.  

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