Daily Prompt: Pattern

Hello again. After last week’s article brought in more readers than I’ve had before (200 in one day), I thought I would continue the series until the release of the Little Book of Thomasisms. This is a book written for anyone who has grown up with an autistic sibling, or parents with an autistic child and is available here, with a sample chapter available here. I am far from an expert in the field of autism, but when it comes to growing up with my younger brother I am something of an expert (at least so far as neither of us have killed the other) and I have to admit that nothing was more challenging than the day he moved out.

The days before moving day: I imagine my brother wasn’t the only person with autism who needed to be given a certain amount of notice before something happened just so it wasn’t sprung on him on the day and caused a negative reaction. We’d found a rough balance around 24 hours notice because that gave him time to adjust to new ideas but didn’t give him enough time to get worked up about doing something new. However, moving house was too big a change and in the end, we had stages upon stages to get him ready. Showing him the house, showing him his room once we were moved in, and then getting him to stay there on his own, just for a night at first, and slowly building him up. This whole process was long and frightening for him and he lashed out at every opportunity, and in the end, I ended up moving in with him on a temporary basis to provide him care and give him someone familiar to lean on. This process was one of the hardest parts, and, if I’m being honest, I don’t know that I should have moved in with him. It made life easier for him and the transition was less stressful but speaking personally it was a lot of strain and made our relationship very difficult for a while.

Moving day and onwards: Moving day took all the usual trials and stresses of moving house and compounded them because we had to be done in one day with as little fuss as possible. We were lucky in that we persuaded my brother to go out for the day while we did the moving, and when he came back he got to sort out his room. This worked in theory but he is sneaky and asked to go back to our parents’ house for something important he was convinced we’d forgotten, and then ran inside slammed shut the doors and refused to leave for most of the evening. It took endless persuading to get him down to the house, and no small amount of trouble when it came time for our mum to leave the house and let him spend his first night. This was probably the hardest part because everyone close to him was used as an outlet for his stress and he shouted, screamed and pleaded with us to let him come back home. Things got a little bit easier when his support team started to transition in as it gave us breaks and a chance to breathe a bit, but only when they’d fully taken over did things start to settle down.

The years to come: Despite how hard the transition was I think moving into his own house with supported living was the best thing to happen to my brother. He has so much more independence now than he ever did, and having his own space that he’s in control over, instead of a single room in a chaotic and constantly changing house, has helped him a lot. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit glad of this too because although I love my brother I don’t think I could every be responsible for his care full-time like I was when he first moved in. Having to provide that level of care long term was only every going to create resentment and I don’t want that between us. Now he invites me down when he wants something, and we have a good laugh (I’m not allowed to laugh cause he assumes it’s at him but still), and I think we’re both in a better place because of this.

I’m not sure if I had a specific point to this article beyond sharing my thoughts and memories from my brother moving out. If I had a point it would be to recommend helping someone who needs full-time care like my brother into a supported living environment. It might seem cruel making them leave, but in the long run, it helps improve relationships and means that they are looked after when you are no longer able to provide them support.

Thanks for reading