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In Their Own Words – I’m Moving Out

November 4, 2011 28 comments

This is a guest blog post by Ali Dyer, the Social Media Coordinator at Autism Speaks. Her older brother Jeff has autism.

You can download the Family Services Sibling Support Tool Kit here

I am moving out. It is finally happening. Not like all of my other stints away. In this move, I will transition to the start of the rest of my life. Yikes. Don’t get me wrong, I have lived away before. But I always returned home, back to the nest.

I went away for college, but came home. I spent a period of time in Ireland, but came home. Oh yes and I lived down under in Australia, not once, but twice. Then I did the gypsy thing in New York City, bouncing from sublease to sublease. Again though, I came home.

Ever since Jeff moved into his group home, he has been on my oldest brother Tommy and me to move out as well. He moved, why haven’t we?

Believe me, the irony is not lost on us.

Growing up, the extent of our family’s travel was a 3-hour car ride out east. Professionals advised my parents against having my brother Jeff travel via airplane because of his sensory issues. So we just never did. It was fine. Our family vacations have always been wonderful, just different. It is the way it is.

My parents, bless them, have encouraged Tommy and I to go and see the world. They financed each and every trip and encouraged us to live each experience to the fullest. Believe me, I did, drinking in every moment, but something was always missing. Jeff.

Autism has always been a part of me. I don’t want to be dramatic, but I can literally trace every single decision back to autism in some way. I never thought anything of it. We come from a small town where everyone knows us and looks out for Jeff. During my times away, I wasn’t Jeff’s sister, I was just Alison. No amount of explaining Jeff can do him justice. He is so much more than just words, he is my heart. Majority of my post-high school friends have an unclear picture of my brother.

I have lived my life, often times to extremes. Nothing is ever really mundane and the pendulum swings. Returning home always brings me back to center, to a balance.

Osho (2006), a professor of philosophy and guru, takes the approach of Lao Tzu, “Balance is something that comes out of experiencing all the dimensions of life. Balance is something that happens […] Balance has tremendous beauty and grace.”Jeffrey navigates through life in a beautiful and graceful way. He is inspiring. Jeffrey shows me true beauty and he really is my grace.

But rather than get on my enlightened urbanite horse, I will quote Hoddington Carter that says more than any blog I can ever write. Carter says, “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings.”

My parents have given me my wings. They have given me the tools to be successful, but more importantly the love and support to forge my own path. They have shown me how to treat people and how to live a full life through their stellar example. I hope they know that I carry them with me everywhere and just how grateful I am.

But it is Jeffrey that has given me roots. For I know every time I head home to visit, I will cater to his every need. He will continue to point out every imperfection on my face and I will continue to dance or sing to him on cue. No matter what I may deem important or value in a materialistic sense will all be left at the door.

Because if there is one thing I have learned about autism, is that it strips you down. Jeffrey doesn’t care about the fluff: what cool event I went to or fabulous article of clothing I just acquired. He just wants his sister. And his sister, I will always be.

Look out New York City!

Jeff posing with some custom artwork for my new place

Click here to download the Sibling Support Tool Kit. This tool kit is for children who have a brother or sister diagnosed with autism. Though the guide has been designed for children ages 6-12, the information can be adapted as needed to other age and education levels. The guide is written in an interactive format so parents and siblings can set aside some quiet time to read the guide together. The intention is to create an opportunity for siblings to focus on their feelings, reactions to their sibling’s diagnosis and get information about autism.

Osho. (2006). The book of understanding. (p. 26). New York: Crown Publishing. Retrieved from http://ow.ly/7jbxm
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