My family is a standard one; I have a sister, two brothers and a single mother to love us all. I live a pretty average life, balancing school and my hobbies, but there’s one factor that affects my day-to-day life: Both of my brothers have autism.
Arthur is the oldest of the four and Nicholas is the second youngest of us. Both were diagnosed with autism at a young age. But their diagnoses doesn’t affect their personalities at all. They have interests just like any other person, they just have a different way of thinking and difficulty doing certain tasks.
Arthur is an 18-year-old high schooler who is very shy and loves cartoons. Despite his autism, he still has talents like any other teen. He has a knack for art and draws better than most people I know.
But his disability causes certain complications that make his life a little more difficult and may bother others. Simple directions are hard for Arthur to follow if you don’t specify exactly what to do. He also has a habit of repeating catch phrases or lines from movies when he’s in the comfort of home. This can be quite repetitive at times, but we work around that.
A more positive aspect of his autism is that Arthur has an impeccable memory when it comes to his interests, such as movies and their characters.
Also, even though he can be unfocused at times, he has amazing concentration when it comes to drawing. It flips like a switch and then he goes into the creative zone with his array of markers and thin-tipped Sharpies. It’s always fun to sit with Arthur and my other siblings just coloring at the table and releasing built-up stress.
Arthur’s favorite things are superheroes like DC and Marvel and if someone were to ask a question about any character’s origins or powers he’d know the answer right off the bat. Many people judge him based on his physical appearance, but they don’t even begin to understand the skills underneath.
My half-brother, Nicholas, is a 7-year-old boy who has ADHD in addition to his autism, which adds a little twist to his life.
Nicholas is a second-grader who goes to school in the same district as Arthur and I do. He loves going to fun places like the park and getting a chocolate doughnut at Tim Hortons. He’s also a hands-on kind of kid who loves cars, figurines, and his iPad.
One of Nicholas’ habits is that when he gets really excited to go for car rides for example, he flaps his arms side to side in a rapid motion. But as the years passed, he has learned how to suppress that urge.
Nicholas also craves routine. Every day he watches the same YouTube channels, usually about collectible cars and toys, and he has a fit if he doesn’t have his way. It’s hard to make him change his firm schedule but he accepts change here and there if need be.
Despite all the traits that classify him as autistic, Nicholas is as normal as any other 7 year old. He’s very active and plays well with other kids, even if they don’t understand him at times, and he loves playing with our sister, Kennedi.
When faced with a challenge, Nicholas tries really hard to solve it on his own and is very good with following directions.
When an iPad is placed in his hands, he knows how work it, apps and all, better than any of us.
I want this article to show people that others with mental disabilities are no different from us deep down inside. We all have our talents and our bad sides. And yet even with all the ups and downs these two bring us, at the end of the day we’re all family.
April Wright is a sophomore at Cheektowaga High School.