Having a sibling on the autism spectrum

Steph: Interview 05

Age at interview: 26

Brief outline: Steph's brother, aged fifteen, is eleven years younger than her. He was diagnosed with autism when he was approximately two years old and lives at home with their parents.

Background: Steph is a speech and language therapist who lives with her boyfriend. Ethnicity background: White British.

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Steph has a close relationship with her brother who was diagnosed with autism when he was approximately two years old. He is now fifteen and lives at home with their parents. She lives close by. She recalled feeling “horrified” when she found out her mother was pregnant with her brother as she had been the only child in her extended family for about nine years. She explained that this was more difficult than finding out about his diagnosis, which she was quick to accept, although, at first she did not have a great understanding about what autism means. She feels that her knowledge has grown and developed over the years through spending time with her brother.
Steph and her brother are fairly close despite the eleven year age gap between them. They spend time together every Saturday and he comes to stay with her once a month. She says she encourages him to try new activities. For example, they watch DVDs together, which he does not do at home as it is not part of his routine. She has worked hard to ensure that their relationship changed as they got older and that they do “things that normal fifteen year old boys would do”. She helps him to buy fashionable clothes as she wants to ensure his life is as normal as possible and does not want others to negatively “prejudge” him.
Steph believes that her experience with her brother has made her “a nicer person”. It also influenced her choice of career; she works as a speech and language therapist. However, she sometimes feels unhappy and wonders about “the sibling that he would be if he didn’t have autism”. Over the years Steph has gathered a great deal of information about autism. She keeps up to date with current autism research.


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