Being fourteen months younger than my sister with Down syndrome wasn’t always easy. We were a grade apart in school, in a town where everyone knew everyone else. I was occasionally referred to as “Syble’s sister” instead of by my own name. When people made jokes about the kids on the short bus or used the r word, I had to decide if I was going to stand up for my sister and bring more attention to myself or just let it go. And even at home, I tried to be low maintenance to make up for the extra work and attention my parents had to put into her.
And that’s why when I look into the eyes of my son David when he’s frustrated about a situation with his brother who has autism, I get it. I so get it. I get the frustration and the fear. I get the exhaustion and the embarrassment. I relive the moments I had at each stage I went through as a special-needs sibling.