Having a sibling on the autism spectrum

Graham: Interview 03

Age at interview: 24

Brief outline: Graham's younger brother, Richard, was diagnosed with autism when they were both very young children. They are very close and Graham loves spending time with Richard.

Background: Graham's younger brother, Richard, was diagnosed when he was two years old.

Audio & video

Graham’s younger brother, Richard, was diagnosed with autism when they were both very young children. Graham describes how having Richard as a brother has had both good and bad bits to it. He says they have had “different relationship experiences which are just as important” and he wouldn’t want to change him for a different brother. He feels he knows him “in and out” because he has looked after him over the years and knows which buttons to push to wind him up and how to calm him down too, which is something Graham values. 
There were some difficult times growing up as Richard’s behaviour could be quite unreasonable and he could have “stress outs”, particularly around holidays when his routine would change significantly. These stress outs would often happen in public places and Graham describes feeling embarrassed for his brother, because of the way people looked at him. Graham didn’t discuss this with people because it was something he’d just grown up with.
Graham says that having a brother like Richard is like having a “halfway relationship” because he’s missed out on the bit of the relationship where he could tell Richard’s things about his life. In some ways, he feels it is similar to being an only child. Their family dynamic has also been altered in some ways as his mum has spent a lot of time with Richard over the years and they haven’t been able to do things as a family unit. On the other hand, Graham describes how close his relationship is with his parents and how hard they have worked over the years to raise both boys. The future worries Graham a bit, though he says his parents are very well organised and have everything in order for Richard. He has also thought about whether or not he might have a child with autism himself.
Graham’s friends get on very well with Richard and they find him “hilarious” as he tells them jokes, plays computers games with them and shares his intense dislike of Dora the Explorer with them. Richard is growing up and Graham, who has been working abroad in his job as an environmental consultant for the past year, has noticed changes in him. They enjoy spending time together; they are now able to go to the pub together and Richard often beats Graham at computer games!


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