Dealing with a sibling who's been diagnosed with Autism

I think I was around 11 or 12 when she was born, I already had a younger sister before this who was born when i was around 4 so I didnt really have much memory of having an actual baby sister. The original upbringing was obviously tough on my parents like the constant bottle feeding, diaper changes etc; I didn't think much of it because I thought raising a baby was around this tough.

 

It wasn't until her 1st or 2nd birthday we got the diagnoses of possible autism or ADHD, I was 14 at this stage and I had a rough idea about what these things were but I had no idea the impact it would create on our family, My parents got visibly more stressed, less time to spend with my other sister and myself, it felt like between work, my youngest sister and all of the other stresses in life there just wasn't really room left for me. I mean i tried to be as independant as I could but it's not like I want to me neglected in the house. Overtime multiple therapy sessions began to get setup along the week, whenever I came home from school I just wasn't surprised by a new adult face who was asking my youngest sister all of these repeated questions and she just simply didn't respond, like something was wrong with her ability to communicate, my parent's just looked more and more downhearted the less she communicated.

Living with my youngest sister around the house is challenging too, you can't leave her unnattend as much as you would be able to leave a 3 year old in a room with no obvious dangers, she always want to run around, shout, scream, run for the door which sometimes just happens to be unlocked, go outside and scream some more, she's never able to simply walk anywhere it's always running in a panicked manor. It's even worse at nights, she can never sleep and just constantly rolls back and forth in her bed so much that it keeps the house up, she talks in her sleep most of the time in her semi-mumbled words and most of the nights she wakes up and starts shouting and crying, forcing my parents to get up at anywhere between 2 and 4 am to keep her quiet.

My parent's were just so strained by always having to get up to keep her from shouting that i Doubt they ever got a full night's sleep even since my youngest sister's 3rd birthday, I remember feeling just so helpless, they seemed so tired and stressed and distressed and there was nothing I could do to help them but most of all I began to lose the relationship I used to have with my parents before my youngest sister was born, they never had time for me it was always "have you done this" or "have you got this sorted" or "why haven't you done x, y and z", it just began to seem that the only interaction I got from them was whenever I'd done something wrong.

It's been about a year and a half since I began to feel this way and I still haven't told my parent's how I feel about so much of their time being taken up by so many other things and how I feel left out in the family, It's been 3 years since they've even asked me how I feel and I haven't said anything to them about it becasue of how I'm afraid they'll say something like "That's so selfish of you" or "how dare you talk about her that way, she's got a condition and you don't" or just even "we love her more than you so tough", I've considered running away a few times before but as far as I get with that plan is packing my things and leaving the front door, for a 16 year old who's still doing his GCSE's theres hardly any part time employment left for grabs. I have a few relatives that live close by but Im afraid if I do go to stay there for a while my parents will finally know how I feel and I don't want them to know that because of the fear of what they'll say.

I've been pretty closed up about my emotions to pretty much everyone around me, I know there's conselling at my school which has a pretty good reputation from what Ive heard but who wants to hear some pathetic tale of a 16 year old who just wants some attention from his parents, I've tried talking to a few friends and they've been quite supportive but I'm not much closer to getting out of my problem.

I just hope I can last until my A levels are done and then maybe put my skills at computing or something else to use, get a decent paid job and a nice place to live and forget that I once had parents who loved me once before.

User Comments

It's going to take a long time for your parents to adjust to cope with your little sister. They love you, but sometimes a person needs extra care... and it's easy to simply assume that you still understand how they feel. They haven't forgotten you... more forgotten to remember, remember those needs, because (as it sounds) you're remarkably independent and self-supporting already. It's not fair... but they *will* come back to you. 

Meanwhile, best of luck with those A-Levels and the rest of your aspirations; it sounds like a healthy plan for a good life, one which you'll be happy with and be able to do what you want from within.

I was diagnosed as having autism as a kid. The diagnosis was subsequently overturned. One of the things I dealt with a lot was my younger sister, who had a lot more initiative with her artistic talents than I did. My parents supported her to the point of being recognized by local government officials for their contributions to the arts, while if I wanted to go out for one week and do something extracurricular it was a nuisance.

I wish you the best of luck. I hope that, as time progresses, you're able to repair things with your family. I'm still working on it with mine. 

Anon-1

I was "tricked" (long story, I may post about it, not yet sure) into being diagnosed with autism for the sake of getting my family some disability assistance. It's such a crazy thing. Docs are still learning about it and what it means, as well as how to cope with it. I know this doesn't make it any easier for you, but your parents are struggling to deal with your sister's needs. She's less capable of understanding a lack of the support she needs than you are, and in the face of that it sounds like they've forgotten you still (like everyone) need the occasional reminder. I hope that things turn up for you soon, in spite of any appearances like they never will; those appearances can be very deceiving. Things can take a turn for the better as quick as a wink, with no advance warning.

Anon-2

I have an autistic cousin. His parents are always exhausted with the effort of looking after him. I've heard them express to my parents, at family functions, how badly they feel over not giving their younger daughter (other cousin, autistic cousin's little sister) the attention she deserves, while simultaneously praying that their oldest child is independent enough to understand why they've been more distant with him as well. 

Hang in there man. They still care about you. They're just exhausted. They're also stressed because they *know* they're falling short.