My brother, Iain, was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of two. Growing up with Iain, I did not really understand why he was different. I just thought it was because he was a boy and boys were “weird.” However that did not affect my love for him.
Iain is a twin and being three years older than the twins meant that I tried to be helpful in probably the worse way. I have very fond memories of Iain as a baby into his toddler years. He always laughed and it was easy for me to grow to him through his laughter. His twin sister, Tori, laughed as well, but not nearly to the extent of Iain. Little did either Iain nor I realized that this was the start of a life time connection between the two of us.
Iain was non-verbal until the age of about 5 or 6, yet I never had trouble understanding him. I have memories of my parents stressing out over Iain’s outbursts, but I knew what he wanted or needed. I never knew why, but I could sense what Iain was crying about almost instantly. When Iain began to talk, he was still hard for anyone to understand him, expect for me. Soon enough, Iain began to develop his own code for everything; a language my family calls “Iainism.” It is amusing to me that my sisters and parents struggled to understand Iain, yet I did. To this day, my mum will text me asking for translations.
Throughout the years, Iain and I always go to each other first whenever we were upset. As must as Iain has depended on me to translate for him or to calm him down after his emotions get to high, I have depended on Iain to make me smile and give me direction. Everything I have done in my life has been to better Iain’s. I’m currently studying special education so I can teach students with disabilities and so I can better understand how Iain’s brain works. I wouldn’t even accept my fiancé’s proposal until I knew that Iain loved him, too. (Which lucky for me, Iain completely adores my fiancé. He even calls him his brother). I am convinced that if Iain wasn’t autistic, we would not have such a loving relationship together. I have always been asked “don’t you wish Iain was born normal?” My response has never changed: “Iain is normal, well he’s normal to me. The normal you’re talking about would be anything but normal.”