My Little Sister Has Autism – What It’s Taught Me

Meet Keira. Keira is a loving, adventurous, sweet-toothed 10-year-old who loves what most other 10-year-olds love: climbing, dancing, and eating cake! But, Keira won't tell you this herself. Keira has autism, and is non-verbal. 

A couple of years ago, in support of World Autism Day, we had a chat with Keira's mum, to hear about the ups and downs of raising Keira, click here to see the blog. Today, on World Autism Day 2020, we're sharing a Q&A with Keira's older brother to help raise awareness.

 

To find out more about autism, help with raising awareness, and to make a donation please click here.

1- Did you know much about autism when you found out Keira had it? 

I had no idea what it was! I was only about 12 and had never heard of it or come across it before. Naturally, I was scared at first because it was completely unknown to me. That's why raising awareness like we are with this blog, is so important.

 

2- What were you most afraid of when you found out? Are you still worried now?

After first learning about it I was worried that as Keira grew up, she wouldn’t have her independence and be able to make ‘grown-up’ decisions by herself. But I don’t think that now! After seeing how great her school is and all the essential things they learn, I've been able to relax about that more. Mum and dad also do such an amazing job, so no, I don't worry now.

 

3- Do you think it has had a big impact on your family life? 

It has had a big impact on our lives, mainly because Keira doesn’t speak, so we have to use different ways to communicate with her. It's been interesting trying new things and finding what works for us. It's also given our family another method to communicate with other people who are non-verbal, which is a great skill to have.

 

4- What has been the most difficult thing about having a sister with autism?

Having to plan our days around her. We have to ensure that when we go for a walk, we go a way she likes to go, or via something that will make her happy or she will become upset! Sometimes we have to cut our trips short as she's too upset to continue.

 

5- What do you love most about Keira?

Her happiness! When she’s happy and playing with the family, everyone’s smiling. Her happiness is infectious.

 

6- Is there anything about autism you still don’t understand or would like to learn more about?

Autism is a spectrum and I only see Keira, so there are many different types of autism I haven’t learned much about. It would be interesting to learn about the other types on the spectrum.

 

7- What has being close to someone with autism taught you?

To be more patient. Patience is key.

 

8- What do you think has been the biggest help for your mum when it comes to raising Keira?

The rest of our family, like my grandma, chipping in to help look after Keira so my mum can take some time to herself. Me-time is sacred in our household!

 

9- How do you explain Keira’s autism to your friends?

My friends are all aware, so it's been a while since I've had to explain it to them. I sometimes have to remind them or explain that she’s non-verbal, because they forget or get confused when she doesn't reply; but I’m always happy to answer their questions.

 

10- What’s your favourite memory so far with Keira?

On her 8th birthday we bought her a cake and cut her a small slice, the next thing we know, she pushes the slice aside and takes the biggest bite out of the whole cake and has everyone in hysterics!

 

WHAT IS AUTISM?

 

• Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world around them and interact with others.

 

• More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, including an estimated 700,000 people in the UK.

 

• Every person on the autism spectrum is different. It can present some serious challenges – but, with the right support and understanding, autistic people and their families can live full lives.

 

• Although everyone is different, people on the autism spectrum may:

   - Be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely difficult;

   - Find social situations and change a challenge, sometimes leading to extreme levels of anxiety;

   - Experience a ‘meltdown’ if overwhelmed by anxiety or sensory overload;

   - Benefit from extra time to process and respond to communication.

 

• Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.

 

To find out more about autism, help with raising awareness, and to make a donation please click here.

 

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