I don’t talk about my brother very much. It’s one topic that I never know quite what to say. Nobody ever knows what to say. He has a learning disability. He may be autistic. It’s very weird. He graduates from high school in a month. His experience at high school was very different from mine. All the standardized tests that I laughed through were a struggle for him. I never took any of them seriously. The HSPA, the S-Test, they didn’t matter. To my brother, they are everything. He spent countless weeks studying and preparing for the HSPA. My parents stressed over it for weeks. Getting a high school diploma for me was a breeze, but for my brother it was very hard work.
I never used to see the two of us as different when we were kids. I treated him like another kid. He was younger than me. It’s harder to notice problems when you’re only 9. He fit in better when we were kids. He used to be very hyper. He’d run around and never sit in one place, but that’s what kids were supposed to do. He’d chew on things, but then he was just a kid. He, my cousin, and myself would all rough each other. It was good times. We’d all play video games together.
As we got older, I started to notice that my brother wasn’t picking things up as quickly as I did. I remember my brother being a match for me in the video games we played. The older I got the better I got. My brother didn’t get that much better. Soon I was beating him easily. I just assumed he was just not good. My parents tried to explain to me that my brother learned things slowly. I don’t think I ever really got it until it hit me in the face many years later. As a teenager, it was easy for me to just leave my brother behind and go hang out with my friends. He was younger and that was the reason I could leave him behind. He was a part of my world that I didn’t bring along all the time during my adolescent years. At this time, I had my life separated between my social life and home life. My brother was part of my home life. I leave that life and enter another once I walk out the door. I still feel that way when I leave the house.
My attention during these years went outside of the home. It’s to be expected. The rebellion years and all. I became fixated with my own problems in that life, not the other. My parents were an annoyance. My brother only got focus with me when I couldn’t go outside. Even then I’d just help him with his homework or we’d have our backs to each other on our computers. Whenever I would go over to look at his computer, he’d always quickly close it. I never thought anything of it.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I realized just how different the two of us were. It was the first time that my brother and I were in the same school. The township kept sending him to other places. I never got to experience my brother in the school environment and all the social aspects of it. I remember passing him by and noticing how he walked, how he talked. At home, I just couldn’t notice that sort of stuff. Even at family events, I just didn’t pay attention. This was his role in my home life. But now against the background of the same school, I could see that something was very different about my brother. It wasn’t something that was going to go away with time.
For the first time, I completely saw my brother’s disability and what affect it would have on his life.
You learn things spending time amongst your peers. I learned to read body language and tell whether someone was worth my time to talk to. I could see that my brother was very timid. He was very much unsure of himself. He had no confidence. He was one of the students who needed extra help. That was his place at my high school. I remember going to lunch one day. At my high school, we had two cafeterias. My brother had the same lunch as me. I sat with my friends. I ventured over to his room once to see him sitting at a table alone. No one else in sight.
I spoke with him for a little bit. I thought about bringing him back to my lunch table. I didn’t. I wasn’t embarrassed of my brother. I just wasn’t sure what to do. I hesitated and then forgot about that problem within a week. I think Team Fortress 2 had a major role in that.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to think up a solution. The semester ended shortly afterward and I didn’t have lunch anymore. I just left early after that.
My brother and I would ride the bus to school together until I got my license. Then I’d drive him. I always had the feeling that he was more intelligent than I thought. He could speak about video-games almost as well as anybody, but when it came to articulating his thoughts on other subjects, he had a lot of difficulty. His timidness makes him comes across as more troubled than he actually is. I’ve seen him talk down to children younger than him, he’s a different person.
Every problem has a solution. My parents came to me for advice on what happens next with my brother. What is his life plan going to be? They asked me that. He was a freshmen in high school the first time the question was asked of me. I told myself I had time to think. So I waited.
I’m out of time now. He graduates from high school in one month. One month. Soon after that he’ll be 18. What is to become of my brother? I can’t even figure out what I’m trying to do with my own life. We have a short term plan. He’ll learn a trade. Hopefully it works out and he gets a job.
I have a lot more to say on this but I think that’s enough for now.