My name is Lilah Petersson, I’m 13 years old, and I am the big sister of a little brother who has autism. The autism world and everything that comes with it will always be a part of my life. Because my brother Liam was diagnosed with autism at a young age, I have never known him any other way. Living with him is a whirlwind of mood swings and unpredictable events. I’ve had to learn to be very patient and understanding. While I get better and better at this, it’s still hard.
The tantrums, the crying, the complaining… life gets shaky and tough, and becomes extremely overwhelming for everyone. Sometimes I feel trapped. Occasionally, I find myself wishing our life would just be more “normal,” maybe easier. I just try to keep my composure and understand why he does what he does.
Lucky for me, life with Liam is not always so hard. Liam is 10 now, and he has grown as a person. He has become smarter, more verbal, and more independent. Liam has his great moments that make up for the hard times. He gives me good excuses to let loose and have fun. He has not only taught me what life is like as a sibling of someone with autism, but he has changed me as a person. As we are growing up together, we learn things from each other and make one another better. He keeps things fun and reminds me that I should just let go and live life in the moment. When I see days where he’s as happy as can be, and showing off his contagious smile, I can’t help but be happy too. I wouldn’t ever want to trade my life for anyone else’s.
Creativity runs in my family. My dad is a professional musician with the band “Cheap Trick,” and my mom is an art director and designer. Music is something that I love in every way. I enjoy writing songs. It’s a way I can convey my feelings and express myself. Music has also been important to Liam. He showed a love and enthusiasm for music before he could even speak.
My parents saw what a big impact music had on Liam and they thought music was something that might help many others. So they created “Rock Your Speech,” a music organization devoted to helping kids with speech difficulties find their voices through music. Rock Your Speech is a fun learning tool that combines rock and roll music with simple lyrics. I’ve been happy to be a part of the project, and have even written a song for my brother. It’s about the experience of being his sister. The song is called “All The Same.”
I am proud that my mom and dad, and now me, are part of the Autism Society of America’s family. From talking with my mom and dad, as well as staff and volunteers with the Autism Society, I know they are doing great work throughout the nation. I hope you support this very important agency that is helping siblings like me, as well as thousands of individuals like my brother have the highest quality of life possible.