When a child is diagnosed with autism, it’s important for parents to look into what that diagnosis will mean for their family. From reading parental guides to seeking advice from professionals, a lot of work goes into researching how to care for their autistic child. But in the process of all this hard work, one aspect can be overlooked; the relationship between the autistic child and their siblings.
The dynamic between a neurotypical child and their autistic sibling can be complicated and multilayered. The line between playmate and caretaker is often blurred, and children may feel as though they have to occupy both roles at once. How much should the child be expected to serve as a role model for their sibling? And when do they get to shirk these responsibilities and just be a kid? In her book Why is My Brother Autistic? author Alexandra Amoroso looks deeper into this relationship and gives us an insider’s view of what it’s like growing up with an autistic sibling.
WRITTEN FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Ever since her little brother Tony was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, Alexandra Amoroso has worked hard to understand her brother’s world. With this book, she’s gathered her firsthand experiences and insights into a guide for children with autistic siblings in order to help educate those whose families resemble her own.
Alexandra Amoroso, author of Why Is My Brother Autistic?
As she put it, “it is hard to understand at a young age what autism is, especially if you have a sibling affected by it.” Amoroso helps kids dealing with the same questions: What is autism? Why do I have to follow rules that my sibling doesn’t? When can I go and play with my friends by myself? From questions about the diagnosis itself, to navigating their relationship with their autistic sibling — it’s a lot for kids to handle. Luckily, these are all topics that Amoroso focuses on. Her 35-page book is broken down into seven easily digestible chapters, and is a great starting point for talking to family members about the challenges and joys of having an autistic loved one.
Amoroso also encourages readers to be honest with their family members about their feelings. Her book is a raw and real exploration of them; she acknowledges times where she’s felt frustrated at her brother and the responsibility she carries. She suggests that readers speak up when they’re feeling overlooked, and to ask for support when they’re feeling overwhelmed. After all, she says, “You need a break just like your parents do. You are dealing with everything in the house just as much as they are.”
But despite the frustration, Amoroso also knows that compassion is the most valuable asset to connecting with an autistic loved one. She reminds her readers that at the end of the day, “you are their first friend,” and the person who they look up to. Why Is My Brother Autistic? is a celebration of our loved ones, and a wonderful resource for family members of neurodivergent individuals.
Cameron Kimball is an illustrator, graphic artist, and writer. She graduated from Pratt Institute with a degree in Communications Design and a minor in Art History. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators and was the winner of the CHSMTA Student Achievement Award for her work in set design. Cameron lives in Connecticut and when she’s not writing or drawing, she can be found in a café drinking tea and listening to Celtic folk music. For more of her work, visit her website at https://cameronkimball.myportfolio.com/