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    Posted April 3, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Life with autism: Share your story

    More from achavis09

    A younger sibling's view


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     'Ever since I was a kid...every star I've wished on, every cake I've wished on, every time it's 11:11 and I make a wish, I've always wished that my brother wasn't autistic,' says achavis09, a third year medical student in Nashville, Tennessee. achavis09 wants the world to know that when a family member has autism, it affects everyone, even the siblings. 'I've always felt - I won't say burden, that's a tough word - I feel kind of responsible for my brother. I'm my brother's keeper if you will,' he says. 'If one of my parents aren't able to take care of him anymore, I plan on having him live with me, which is exciting for whoever I marry, but she'll have to be okay with it I guess.' His brother Adrian, 28, is non-verbal. However, they love exploring their environment together and they have special ways of communicating. 'I feel blessed that I've gotten the opportunity to love my brother,' he says. While his family faces challenges, he says he loves watching Adrian bring out the best in people. 'My friends, they would hang out with me and we'd be this way and then we'd go home and seeing them interact with my brother -- it was humbling,' he says. 'We're all dealt different cards and it's kind of how you play them that determines the outcome of the game. I couldn't have asked for anything better. You can have a full, awesome life with a family member with autism.'
    - ssesha, CNN iReport producer

    My older brother is autistic, and while I feel like I've been blessed to have him, as a child I felt like I wasn't as important as he was. Everyone knew his name, his habits and everything about him, and I was just his normal brother. And I understand how selfish that sounds, but I was in an interesting position. His meals were tailored to what he liked while I had to eat whatever I was fed. His music could be played over and over at any volume, but mine was controlled. Adolescence is when you begin to define your self worth, but when you do that next to an autistic older sibling, instead of feeling capable and functional, you can easily feel unimportant. I love my brother, and I wouldn't have changed my childhood for anything, but its a viewpoint that I feel is often overlooked. I just don't want it to sound like I don't understand what he goes through. I would give anything for my brother. But in the shadows of my childhood experience lurks the disconnect between "normal" and "special".
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