My sister has been 12 years old for just shy of 13 years. Indeed she’s a 24 year old young lady with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was developmentally normal once, but now there’s only evidence of that in pictures and cloudy memories.
I live at home with her, so it’s not something I sit around thinking about regularly, but last month she went out four times with a couple friends she’s had since junior high school. Once to a barbecue and the other times to the mall by the house, something teens and preteens in the area do.
I never heard many of the details. The most I got out of her was a nod when I asked if she had a good time. She barely speaks to me, or speaks much at all for that matter to any of us in the house. When she does its in a tiny voice. The loudest she ever gets is a “normal” inside voice tone when she’s really mad at me. So mad her brooding silence isn’t enough. I hear about the things I do that piss her off from my dad on occasion. Never from her personally.
She doesn’t often look at me, or respond if we’re talking to her, or asking questions. It used to bother me a lot more than it does now. Now I just feel sad that I may never have a normal relationship with my sister, whose going to be all I’ve got when my parents pass away one day.
Will she be able to take care of herself without them? She’s babied at home, and reminded to do everyday things like eat and shower. She spends her days on the computer or sleeping. She’s not often bothered to help out around the house. She doesn’t like swearing or drinking, she’s a vegetarian, dresses VERY conservatively and she watches mostly reality TV and kids movies.
That last part is pretty much the perk (not the reality TV). I get to have a longer feeling childhood living with a childlike sister. For instance, I trick or treated into my 20s with her until my mom insisted we were too old. She was dressed as an angel for years. One year I got her a pair of light up wings to go with her costume.
She doesn’t often smile and never with teeth. Her laughs are muffled, like she’s trying to hide them. I should have cherished those experiences more, because being an adult sucks.
Mostly I’m frustrated though. She’s not easy to live with, and though most of the things she does drive me crazy (and our parents pretty much let her do her thing so she’ll be content) she really is important to me. She’s my little sister.
Back to her seeing friends, I wonder often why they’re friends with her. Do they feel bad for her or genuinely like her and just excuse her odd behavior? Historically, she’s gone out about once a year during the summer with those friends to the mall. She doesn’t drive, so we give her rides and made sure she’s met up with whoever it is before leaving.
My mom refuses to let her take public transportation because she worries something will happen to her, so we take turns driving her pretty much anywhere she needs to go, mostly school.
It pisses me off thinking her friends may not genuinely care for her. I worry about them taking advantage of her or talking about her behind her back. It brings out a protective side of me. Oddly enough, it also gave me conflicting emotions on how I feel about her “growing up” and being social. She hasn’t seen her friends again for the last month, and I wonder if that makes her sad.
The thing that made me want to write this post was how angry I was a few days ago when she and I were shopping at the grocery store with my dad. We were picking up bagels and she saw her friend who works in the bakery. My dad happily encouraged her to say hi. She stood there awkwardly for a minute, a smile on her face without saying a word, then had a 60 second exchange with this girl whose face expressed that she wanted nothing to do with my sister. Maybe she was having a rough day at work, but it both enraged me and made me very sad. It didn’t seem to phase my sister.
Having a family member with Asperger’s is hard. I’ve often felt bad for my parents, who have two abnormal children (myself being bipolar), but we’re well loved, and our mom and dad are grateful to have us as we are to have them.