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Page 84 MARCH APRIL 2016 67 LESSONS OF LOVE Submitted anonymously by the 18 year-old brother of a 20 year-old sister with Down Syndrome If you have thoughts or ideas to share we hope to hear from you. Tell us how you feel if youve had to overcome any obstacles and what youve learned. You can include your name or you can submit it anonymously. Email Being a brother to Jane has been the best blessing that I have ever been given. Having a sibling with special needs has had its ups and downs over the years but those ups and downs have molded me into the person I am today. Perhaps the years that impacted me the most were during my high school years Jane was one grade above me. Freshman year was very rough for me mainly because Jane was struggling with anxiety and depression at our high school. That year I had to deal with a lot of her emotional problems in school and this set me apart from the other students in my grade. After my freshman year we moved to a new school that provided Jane with a much more positive environment where her anxiety and depression issues eventually went away. Those high school years impacted me the most because I learned how to be patient and how to accept responsibility for others even at a young age. Others who have siblings with special needs should know that while there will be rough times and times where you will feel a heavier burden on you than on others your age there will also be moments that will be so wonderful you wont ever want them to end. Embrace your sibling as they are and love him or her like you would any other member of your family. That is when you will see the amazing qualities and capabilities these people have. not her actual name goodKIDS BEING THE SIBLING OF AN AUTISTIC BROTHER By Samantha Herman Usually when people think of siblings they think of arguments tattle tales and people who just dont get along with each other but thats not true for my brother Seth and me. My parents always remind me that when Seth and I were very little I would always ask them Why wont Seth play with me Their response would be He will play with you eventually just be patient. After many years of patience we started to play games together and had so much fun. We played ball and did puzzles. When he got to 6th grade he participated in a program at his school which allows normal children to interact with the special needs kids. I think that this is an amazing program and he really enjoys it. Other than me he now has tons of mostly female friends who come to the house and go with him to fun places such as Jumpstreet. Since we have been together for so long and I have always been there to help him its a bit weird having someone else there to help out so I still feel the need to go with him. Plus I think he feels more comfortable when Im there. Every day I notice that Seth listens to me even more than my parents and I think thats awesome Just the other day while he was swimming in the pool his favorite activity to do in his free time he began throwing a tantrum. My parents tried multiple times to get him out of the pool. A couple of minutes later I asked if I could get him out thinking that he would listen to me. The first time he didnt come out so I tried again. The second time I said Seth come on. Lets go get some pasta. Since he is non-verbal he makes hand gestures to tell us yes or no so he made a closed fist and shook his wrist up and down telling me yes. He still didnt come out. The third time I repeatedly said Come on Seth and eventually I got him inside to eat. Its not very often that he throws a fit tantrum melt-down or whatever you want to call it but when it does happen it can range from long loud and painful to short and loud. There have been some times when he will grab me and scratch me out of anger but I have learnedwaystoprotectmyself.Imprettyusedtoitbynow.Although he gets upset on occasion he mostly has good days. Those days are my favorite. Hes all lovey-lovey will give me tons of hugs and kisses and is constantly laughing and smiling and begging me to play with him. My parents always have to take him to speech and other therapies so that takes most of their time. I understand that he needs a lot of attention so it doesnt bother me too much. When I do get time to spend with my parents its usually at lunch during school. They bring me lunch and we just sit down and talk. Other times I spend alone- timewitheitherMomorDadgoingongirlsdayoutwithMomor playing board games or getting ice cream with Dad. Seth has made me more mature for my age and has taught me so many things without even realizing it. For example he has taught me to be more patient when he is not responding to questions right away or when I try to understand what he needs whether its through the iPad or hand gestures. So being his sister definitely comes with a ton of responsibilities but it has made me the person I am today and I will do anything for him. Seth has made me more mature for my age and has taught me so many things without even realizing it. - Samantha Herman 14 with her brother Seth 13