Sibling Corner: Normality in Reality

Julia Miller

Life for every person in the human world begins the same. Every mother and father have a child the same way; yet the outcome is always different. Siblings can be alike, and strangers could look faintly similar, but everyone in this world is different. Sometimes, kids are born with skills, like math or singing. And sometimes people are born with diseases, or severe allergies to certain things. Other people are born with Asperger’s.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a disorder that affects the brain. My eighteen-year-old brother Ian was born with Asperger’s. It is a mild case, so if you didn’t know you wouldn’t be able to tell. To us, and a lot of people, he is a normal, loving, caring person. But not to everyone. Unfortunately, some people at his high school think he is weird. He isn’t, though. He sometimes has a hard time doing things that you or I could do, like deciphering the feelings of a stranger from their face, but he also has so many useful strengths.

For example, you can ask Ian anything about Robot Wars. He has an unbelievable memory and can store information on every robot he ever learned about. He is great to play games with, and although he beats me at every board game we play, he is a truthful and wonderful person to play against.

Every night at ten o’clock, an online puzzle comes out. These puzzles usually are just pictures or words. The solver has to figure out the one word answer without any instructions. My father and Ian are always staring at the screen for a few minutes until one of them figures it out. My dad calls that the “click-factor,” when he figures out what the text or picture suddenly means and then is able to quickly find the answer. One night, everyone was in our small computer room looking at the random text and digits on the screen. Ian read the text aloud, and just out of common sense, he put a guessing, funny answer into the box. And he was right! It took us twenty-eight seconds to solve the puzzle: an all-time, hard to beat record for us!

When I was writing a paper for social studies, I was stuck on how to start the opening paragraph to catch the reader’s attention. When I asked Ian what he would do, on the spot he came out with an introduction that would have taken me at least two hours to come up with and probably more! I re-worded his introduction, but kept the same emotion that he expressed in his. The paper turned out awesome, and I really appreciated his help.

Not only is he great at just about everything, but he is caring and loving, and shows it in the acts of kindness he demonstrates to me, my family, and everyone else who comes along. He has a great way of telling what people want, and always knows how to make them laugh. For example, for every year that I can remember, he has gotten me what I wanted for presents. From the time he hid my present in his room and helped me find it, to my Bat Mitzvah where he collected money from my friends to buy me the new Nintendo DS, he always pulls it off.

Ian shares his love for computers with my other brother and me. He finds awesome videos on YouTube and shows them to us. We are always eager to see what he finds next. He shows us videos that I would never think of looking for. Unlike some other people with Asperger’s, Ian thinks about what we would want to see in the videos.
Since I was little, I have been noticing similarities between Ian and myself. We both like to cook. We may not like to cook the same way: I like to make supper over the stove and he likes to bake his bread in the oven. We both also like to make things; for him it’s model cars while I like to knit. We like to laugh at other people’s jokes and listen as other people crack up at ours. It is special to me to know that someone so loving, helpful, and just altogether wonderful can be like me. I am so honored to be thought of as being like Ian, because he is the best older brother someone could have.

This year, Ian is graduating high school and going to college. We are all so proud of him for getting into Northeastern, the first choice on his list. I remember the night when we found out about his acceptance. You could see the excitement and happiness on his face. His hard work really had really paid off, and he knew that too. He thought it would be best to live at home during his first year, and I am very happy about that choice. Without him, things would be altogether too quiet. I understand that he will probably have too much work to spend a lot of time with us, but just having him around is lovely.

A lot of the time, I wish people would notice the characteristics that show so clearly to me. I wish he wouldn’t be thought of as different at school. If people could just look inside Ian and spend time with him as I do, they would see how great he really is. Living with someone who has Asperger’s is not a chore. It is a wonderful thing to have Ian around, and I am so grateful for it.