Autism through a brother’s eyes

By Evans Baker
October 30, 2019

One of the most influential parts of my life was the day I learned I was to become a big brother. I was three years old. I always had an idea in my head what a little brother would be. I thought I was going to have somebody to watch “Star Wars” with and have epic sword duels. That was not the case.

My brother Aidan, who is the middle child of our family, was just like any other baby in the world when he was born so it was too soon to tell that he had autism. But according to Autism Speaks, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism so this can happen to any family.  

My brother Aidan just being his happy self. Photo by Evans Baker

 My brother was that 1 in 59 kids, but little did I know that only a year later that my life would change even more when I found out yet again that I was going to have another brother. This time I had an idea of what he might be like if he was also diagnosed with autism. However, God also had other plans with my younger brother Kieran. When Kieran was born, he too was another 1 in 59 kids that have autism but as I said before, every person is different.

My brother Kieran, getting home from a hard day’s work at school. Photo by Evans Baker

Kids with autism can have many different types of ways that challenge their daily lives like communication and social behaviors according to the Autism Society.   

 Just like every other person in the world, every person is different and acts in their special way and my brothers are no exception. While Aidan can speak, he does not talk like you and I. If Aidan would like something, he would say my name and say I want and he would say the name of the object he would like. Aidan is learning more conventional ways of asking for things like “may I have this” and phrases that are similar. However, Kieran, the youngest in our family, is nonverbal.

Nonverbal means he can make sounds and he can laugh and cry but cannot say words. So the question arises; how does one speak if they cannot say any words? The simple answer is with his iPad. Kieran can communicate by showing a person words through an app that can say and pronounce words like “I want this or that” and this is his way of communicating so he never goes anywhere without his iPad. However, he is learning how to pronounce simple words like “mom” and “bye” so this is a really big deal for him.

Kieran’s iPad is his main way of communicating with other people to let them know what he needs or wants. Photo by Evans Baker

Despite all differences in brothers, they are still people, no different from anyone else and they are also still my brothers. For almost 18 years, I have learned many things that I could have only dreamed of if I did not have my brothers to help me understand. I have been able to learn patience and how to look at another person’s perspective through their eyes and knowing how hard it must be for someone who cannot speak at all express their feelings and emotions. I have also learned that helping someone goes a long way and can show them life lessons.

Every day, I help my brothers with some of their daily tasks and after watching me for so long they begin to do it themselves, making me kind of one of their teachers. In a way, I think I teach them some things here and there without me even knowing I taught them.

Even though my brothers have this disability, that doesn’t stop them from having the time of their lives. Aidan loves to dance and never wants to stop and Kieran loves to go outside and play and just have a good time and these have taught me something as well. The lesson is that even if one is having the most miserable day, there is some sort of upside to that situation that we can always turn to for happiness. Even though my brothers have this disability, that doesn’t stop them from having the time of their lives. Even though they can get on my nerves sometimes.

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Evans Baker

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