How Parents Can Support the Sibling of Their Child with Autism | Organization for Autism Research

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In this blog post, Eddie Grabill discusses his experience growing up with a brother on the spectrum and offers advice to the parents of other autism siblings.

I was very fortunate to grow up with hardworking parents that made life great for both my little brother Tommy and myself.  My family made a lot of sacrifices, but in the end, I was very lucky to have the childhood that I did.  These sacrifices have allowed me to see life from a different perspective.

Tommy faces challenges associated with his autism that can make life difficult at times. My parents wanted to make sure he got to enjoy the little things in life that make him happy.  They were dedicated to spending a lot of time with him.  For example, on the weekends they would take him to the movie theater and zoo.  I was very jealous because I usually wanted to do other things, such as playing sports. 

However, Tommy’s weekend activities really made him happy, and I started to realize how important it was to me that he was happy.  As I grew older and understood this more, I really began to look up to my parents.  They were willing to do whatever it took to make him happy, even if it means repeatedly doing activities that they don’t want to do.  In addition, I became humbler.  I started appreciating life more because I knew I was lucky to be where I was. 

I really appreciated whenever my parents made sacrifices to make sure I was also living a great life. With their support, I would travel to tennis tournaments around the country.  One of my parents would always come with me while the other stayed at home with Tommy.  Despite the difficulty, my parents knew that tennis was something that was very important to me and prioritized it.  I have a lot of respect for my parents allowing me to continue to travel for tournaments.

To the parents who have a child with autism, I can’t tell you how much respect I have for you.  You are superheroes and deserve all the credit in the world for the time you put in to make sure your child is living a great life.  The best way to support the siblings of your child with autism is to show them that you care and are willing to make sacrifices.  Your son or daughter will grow to understand the challenges associated with autism, and one day they will really appreciate the little things that you did for them.

About the Author

Eddie Grabill is the brother of Tommy Grabill who was diagnosed with autism.  Eddie attended Dartmouth College where he was a Government Major.  Today, he works in the Finance Transformation Department at PenFed Credit Union.  He became a blog contributor to OAR in the summer of 2019.

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