Having a sibling on the autism spectrum

Katherine: Interview 10

Age at interview: 21

Brief outline: Katherine's older brother, 25 was recently diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

Background: Katherine, 21, lives with her parents and her brother. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Katherine, 21, lives with her brother, 25, and her parents. Her brother has had a series of diagnoses, including OCD, since childhood and was recently diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. While Katherine describes her family as very close, she also says that she has become less accepting of his “strangeness” as she has grown older and is beginning to become more resentful of the impact of his behaviour on the rest of the family.
Katherine’s brother spends long periods secluding himself in his bedroom and these periods involve Katherine’s mum as she has to care for him. When his mood lifts and he comes out of his room, Katherine describes positive times as he is much happier and more sociable. But Katherine says that she “doesn’t like his highs because I know that there is an impending low”. 
These patterns of behaviour have made it difficult for Katherine to have her friends around as much as she’d like. She talks about her brother to her friends but doesn’t disclose the full extent of his unusual behaviour because she knows her brother would feel uncomfortable about this. Katherine is aware that she can move away from the family to lead her own life, but is concerned about the long term impact on her parents if her brother is unable live on his own in the future. 
There have been some positive things about growing up with her brother, including learning to be by herself and developing an understanding of how to help other people.


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