Having a sibling on the autism spectrum

Eloise: Interview 02

Age at interview: 18

Brief outline: Eloise's younger brother, aged 12, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 11.

Background: Eloise, aged 18, is a student who lives at home with her parents and younger brother who has Asperger's syndrome. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Eloise’s younger brother was not diagnosed with Asperger syndrome until he had nearly finished primary school. Eloise’s brother could say words like ‘satellite’ and ‘dinosaur’ before saying names of family members. Her brother is very bright, but has problems using and understanding language, perceiving danger and following social rules, such as who he can and cannot hug. Eloise describes how it is often difficult to distinguish what behaviours are caused by his Asperger syndrome’s and what is just him. Also, because it is a “hidden condition”, Eloise finds it is not easy to explain his behaviour to other people.
Eloise’s brother has had a hard time since he transferred to secondary school. His social problems have worsened as he has gotten older and he has found it hard to make friends. According to his sister, his teachers are not very understanding or knowledgeable about his condition and this has contributed to his poor experience of school. As a result, he only attends on a part-time basis. 
Eloise describes being close to her brother and feels protective of him. As a family, they do not argue often, but mealtimes can be quite fraught. This is because her brother may refuse to eat because he only likes certain foods. Eloise feels she understands him better than her older brother who sometimes does things which annoy him.
Eloise worries about her brother’s future. She fears he may not do well in his exams because of the negative experiences he has had at school and feels this may stop him from going to university and developing social confidence by mixing with other people. Consequently, she would like teachers to undergo compulsory training about autism and would like them to have more awareness about autism spectrum conditions.


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