November 11, 2011
This is my story from the viewpoint of the older sister. This is Joshua's story.
Last night I cried my eyes out for an hour. I was watching the Disney movie Tru Confessions and my heart completely felt apathy for Tru. If you haven't watched that movie, I highly recommend you do. In the movie, Shia Labeouf plays a child with a mental disability. As I watched this movie for the first time, mind you I was 10, I cried the whole time. I have no problem sharing the fact that I have a brother with autism, Joshua. It causes a problem for me when people don't take the time to understand him.
Unlike Eddie, Shia Labeouf's character in the movie, Joshua is nonverbal and uses a special app on his iPad to tell us what he needs. It might sound easy, but trust me, I sometimes find it more difficult for him when he’s stressed out. Unlike Eddie who cries and is able to say what is wrong with him, Joshua cries and bangs his head against walls. He has bumps on the side of his head from his own self-inflicted wounds. Sometimes I worry because I'm scared that one day he will get a concussion from banging his head. If he's still upset, he will beat up on me, my mom, or my brother depending on who he gets to first. Joshua doesn't understand how much strength he has in his body and how much he's hurting the person. I have bruises from Josh, but I know they aren't intentional.
Like Tru, Eddie's sister, I sometimes feel neglected because Joshua needs so much help. I think I understand better now as a young adult, but when I was younger it was harder for me to realize that I was better off than Joshua and he needed all that extra help.
While I was watching the movie for a billionth time, the line that hit me the most was when Eddie told Tru, "I'm tired of being different!" And it hit me: was Joshua feeling the same way? Is he tired of people staring at him whenever we're in church and he gets loud because he’s overly excited to be there? Is he angry at being around people who tell my parents to “beat it out of him?” Does he want to be a typical child? If Joshua were typical, would we be a “normal” family? What if he were “typical” and into drugs? Or if he strayed down the wrong path and caused more grief that way to my parents? I'm not sure, but I do know this: Joshua was sent to our family for a purpose.
I know that because of Joshua, I understand what other families go through. In his own way, he taught me many things I would have never known if he were typical. I know how hard it is not to be able to do everything my friends are doing because I was out with Josh at his therapy or soccer games. I know the joy it is to see Joshua's eyes sparkle when he sees his Sing Along Songs on Youtube. I know the happiness it brings to see Joshua's smile. I know how it feels to have someone love you unconditionally no matter what you have ever done.
Sure, I can't go on a Hawaii vacation with my parents because Joshua cannot ride a plane without being medicated, but I have something better than Hawaii. Don’t feel sorry for me or my family. I would never trade Joshua for anything in the world. I have Josh, and in my book, that’s better than any vacation.
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.