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Living a Life with my Autistic Brother

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Brenau chapter.

My mom didn’t realize that my brother had Autism until he was 2 or 3 years old. She used to read to him every day and then get him to read back to her. One day, she decided to let my brother read to her first and he just sat there not doing what she said to do. After taking him to the doctor, he was diagnosed with Autism, and since then my mother has been helping him improve with his communication skills. She bought him flashcards, got him an IEP teacher, and most importantly I played with him with his toys.

Throughout Elementary and Middle School, I was there for him through everything. People used to pick on him and I stuck up for him and everything. I would tell my friends about how cool my brother was, and if he couldn’t hang with us then I couldn’t be friends with them.

Despite the antisocial stigma of autism, my brother had lots of friends and even girlfriends in high school. But it was hard for me to trust them. I feel like I’m his bodyguard in a way, and that if I’m not there to protect him, he won’t be able to protect himself.

After his 5th grade year, my brother shut himself out from everyone. My mother and I was trying to figure out why he wouldn’t do his work. Instead he played the video games and anything that distracted him from school work. I finally got him to talk about why he was not doing his schoolwork. He told me his 5th grade teacher told him that he would never graduate, because he was stupid. She told him to give up, because he would never be successful.

People like her don’t need to be teachers. They are ruining a child’s self-esteem when they tell a child that no matter if they are mentally ill or not. This is bullying no matter how old you are. Kids who are autistic or mentally ill take things like that to the heart and they don’t know how to handle this kind of stuff. My brother shut himself out and gave up on himself, because of one person.

Now my brother is 22 years old and will be graduating from the Art Institute of Atlanta with a degree in Graphic Arts and Design. He never lets anyone get under his skin anymore and I couldn’t be any prouder of him.

My name is Kenya Hunter! I am a freshman at Brenau University as a Mass Communications major. My focus is journalism!