Having a sibling on the autism spectrum

Alison: Interview 14

Age at interview: 50

Brief outline: Alison's younger brother was diagnosed with autism in 1976 when he was aged 9. He now lives in residential care.

Background: Alison is married and has two children aged 23 and 21. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Alison is the eldest of five siblings. One of her brothers was diagnosed with autism when he was nine. There is a seven year age-gap between them and he is now forty-three. She described the relationship between them as “not really a normal relationship”. She does not see him often now because he does not live nearby and she also thinks there is little point as they cannot communicate verbally.
Alison believes that as a child her brother did not get as much help and support as children with autism do today because there was less awareness about autism then. He now lives and works on a working farm for adults with learning disabilities.
Alison thinks that the occurrence of autism in her family was a “bit of a freak thing”. Her parents were told that it was probably genetic, but that the other family members should not worry and so she was surprised when she found out that her daughter also had autism. However, as a result of the experience with her brother, she was able to recognise the signs in her daughter and ensure that she “pushed a lot harder to get the right help” for her daughter than her parents had done for her brother. She summarises her experience of growing up with a sibling with autism as “untypical” and “very difficult”.


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