27 Oh, Brother
I used to feel doomed . I used to worry that I would grow up to be like my brother. I didn't understand why Eric behaved the way he did, and I was afraid I'd catch his problems. Now I understand that my brother and I are different.
Eric has Asperger's syndrome . It means he has a hard time making friends. Sometimes he screams and cries, and he worries about everything. Crowds and noises make him uncomfortable, he hates the way some foods feel on his tongue, and he tears the labels out of his clothes. He doesn't like to be touched. But most of all, having Asperger's syndrome can mean feeling lonely. I think Eric sometimes feels like a puzzle piece that doesn't fit the puzzle. It looks like it should fit, but it doesn't.
I'm only eight, but everyone asks me to be understanding and patient with Eric. Sometimes it's too much—I just want to be a normal child with a normal family. Sometimes I wish I could just go to live with a different family, or stay in a hotel, just to get away.
Even little things, like getting ready to go out, take ages. Eric can never leave the house without certain toys. It doesn't matter how late we are; he has to find the toys he needs. If he can't find them, he has a tantrum . I get scared, then. When he's having a tantrum, he screams and throws things. He says horrible things-that he hates me, and that I'm stupid-or he hits me. Sometimes I feel like I am the only kid who has to deal with all this. That makes me feel lonely.
But other times I feel protective of him. Eric gets very nervous with people he doesn't know. When he gets nervous, he doesn't know what to say or do, so he just stands there looking scared. And when he gets scared, he has tics —sometimes he shakes his head, sometimes he sniffs or coughs a lot, sometimes he throws things up in the air, and sometimes he picks at his skin or cuts his clothes. My family is used to his tics, but most kids think it's weird, so they tease him. I am not afraid of other kids. If I was there when they bullied him, I would tell them to leave him alone.
Eric is very funny and he likes to act silly a lot of the time. I usually enjoy watching him—he makes me laugh. But sometimes I just don't feel silly. I ask him to stop, but he doesn't. It really gets on my nerves ! Other times, Eric comes into my room while I'm sleeping and wakes me up. He knows I'm sleeping, but he wants to be with me. I know that he feels lonely,so I don't want to get cross , but I really hate it when he wakes me up.
It's even hard sometimes when Eric just wants to show me he loves me. He likes to hug me or give me a kiss. I love him too, but sometimes it bothers me the way he shows his love: he hugs me too tight, or gives me slobbery kisses. Mum tries to teach him how to be gentle, but he just doesn't seem to get it.
I know that Eric needs special help, but sometimes I resent that he gets to do special things, even though he misbehaves. And Mum and Dad spend lots of money to get help for Eric, which means that we don't have money left for fun things like holidays.
Sometimes I feel embarrassed about him. Eric's 13, but he still likes to dress up like his favorite TV characters. He always wants me to play along, which is fine when we are at home. But I feel silly when he wants me to do it in public, like at the supermarket.
Sometimes I don't want to talk to my friends about Eric because I am embarrassed to tell them about the things that he does. I am afraid that people in my school will know that he is my brother, and they won't want to be my friends. But even though Eric bothers me sometimes, I miss him when he is gone. I enjoy being away from him for a couple of hours, but I hate it when he is away for a long time.
Eric doesn't have many friends. When I play with Eric, he wants everything to be his way and he likes to do the same things over and over again. He likes to watch the same TV programme, listen to the same songs, and play the same games. If he says or does something to make you laugh, he will keep doing it even after it isn't funny any more. He never knows when to stop.
I feel sad that Eric's life is so hard for him. I wish he had more friends. I wish school were easier for him. I wish he didn't have to have tantrums. I wish he could be happy more of the time. Sometimes I even think that he has changed and I start to trust him. He does his homework or takes a shower without complaining, and then I think that maybe he will be all right after all.
埃里克的生活真是太艰难了，我为他感到难过。我希望他能有更多的朋友；我希望他能更加适应学校生活；我希望他不要总是发脾气；我希望他快乐的时候能更多一些。有时我甚至觉得他已经变了， 我开始信任他了。他做作业或洗澡时不再满腹牢骚，这时候我就想， 或许他终究会好起来的。
Eric's behavior upsets Mum and Dad, and I don't want them to be unhappy, so I often feel that I can't make mistakes or do anything wrong because they will end up being even more upset. For example, when Dad cooks something new, Eric won't taste it. Sometimes he has a tantrum if someone asks him to eat something he doesn't think he will like. It can ruin the whole dinner. So I feel like I have to eat everything Dad makes and say "It's great!" even if I don't really like it.
Even though Mum and Dad tell me that I don't have to fix the family's problems, I still feel that I have to do it. Trying to be perfect is very exhausting.
I spend even more time with Eric than Mum and Dad. I always feel that I have to watch him to make sure that he's OK. It's hard to have fun while you are worrying about someone else. Sometimes I feel like I'm the older brother even though I'm not.
Deep down, I know Eric doesn't do it on purpose. I know that he feels scared when he is out of control, and I know he regrets saying mean things to me. So, no matter what Eric says or does, I always forgive him. I always still love him.
Eric can make me laugh so hard that I can't breathe. When I cry, he tries anything and everything he can think of to make me happy. He brings me stuffed animals and acts silly to make me laugh. He waits for me when I'm busy and he likes to pick me up from the school bus. He takes me for rides on his skateboard. He tries to get me interested in things that are important to him. Eric helps me find things when I lose them. He always knows where I am and what I am doing. He worries if I am not where he expects me to be.In his own way, he watches out for me and tries to take care of me. He loves me.
Even though life is a challenge for Eric, he never stops trying. I am proud of him.
(By Sam Frender )