8 Things I’ve Learned From Having An Autistic Sister


1. People are sometimes too busy to constantly validate how much they love you. I spent a lot of time crying in eighth grade. The thing is, being thirteen is a terrible thing. Being thirteen in a household where your sister requires 96% of your parents’ non-work time is especially tear-inducing. Hormones suck. My parents didn’t. They simply were fulfilling my sister’s needs rather than my wants. In my most desperate moments mom always had time to hug me as I cried and told me how much she loved me. Dad showed his love by giving me the TV remote despite his baseball game being on.

2. Being a parent is hard. My sister has been known to run away, in the middle of the night, through a window. With minimal road safety, that qualifies as a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s mine too. Also making someone food three times a day, every day, and providing someone 24/7 care and supervision forever is a lot. It’s intimidating and tiring and it’s called ‘parenting’.

3. Life can be shitty. My sister wasn’t potty-trained till the age of twelve. Diapers are not an ideal aspect of daily existence, especially when it’s a part of your life for over a decade. The other day, as I was cleaning a previously overflowing toilet, I thought of how very few of my friends have ever had to literally clean shit up. Poo and piss are a part of a healthy functioning human and you familiarize yourself with it.

4. Actions speak louder than words. My sister has a severely limited vocabulary. There will never be a conversation in which I walk in the room and she asks how my day was. However, there’s this moment where she smiles in anticipation right before I tickle her. That smile means the world to me.

5. She’s my Bee-Bee. My sister has become known as “Bee-Bee” because, as a small child I constantly mispronounced the word “baby”. My entire life I’ve known that one day she will be unable to live in my parents’ household. I’ve promised for my entire life to take care of her once that day comes. I’ve helped with her food, her bath time, getting her off to school, and everything else for as long as I can remember. Our sibling relationship is tinged with my maternal instinct, it always will be.

6. Everyone eventually grows up. When I was fifteen a teacher told me “Miranda, you look like you’re thirteen and talk like you’re thirty.” As I’ve grown older I’ve learned I don’t always have to be serious. I’m nearly twenty and just now I’m meeting individuals who care about more than Facebook status updates. Eventually I won’t be the only one of my friends with all the skills of a stay-at-home-mom.

7. Objects don’t matter. People do. From make-up and nail polish to snow globes and tea sets my sister has broken my most beloved things. Also a window. I love her no less for her destructive nature. I figure, having an emphasis on materialism can’t be healthy anyways.

8. One life lesson: When you make a mess, gather the people you love and together you can clean it up. In life messes happen. In my house, literally all the time. It’s not the end of the world. All it requires is a mop or dustpan.