Siblings Speak

My name is Ibukun, I am 25 years old, I am from Ondo state and presently work in a Restaurant. I am the second child and the first daughter in a family of six. I have got an elder brother, a younger sister and another brother who happens to be the last born in the family, his name  is Seun , he is 12years old going on 13 and he is autistically Sweet.

Up until when he was 10years old, we did not understand his condition; he did not walk on time, he did not talk on time, and even when he started talking his speech was not clear, only few could understand when he talks. He loves colors so much, especially bright colors.

I was in the dark, until the day I heard a woman on the radio talk about Autism and its symptoms. She actually talked about her daughter and how she identifies things in the house with colors, but I became more interested when she talked about the past where someone asked the daughter her name and she responded  with ‘ fine’  instead of telling her name, because she was used to ‘how are you’?’ So that night I related all she had said to my brother’s condition and started watching him closely for more clues. Though I gathered information on children with autism via the internet, so I knew the way to actually know him is to let him express himself the way he wants to, or likes as I was still observing.  I knew he needed more to be the best that God has made him and I never stopped praying for him to actually be on the right path.

On a fine afternoon, I got a newspaper and started reading and was so happy to see an advert of Golden Hearts Touching Lives Initiative where the symptoms of autism were clearly stated and how early intervention remains the key to helping them so they don’t become liabilities to their respective families. I sent a message to one of the numbers, they called back and we got talking, I was referred to a Centre for these sweet children called The Learning Place at Lekki where we experienced love. In all, my brother was so happy when we got there, he felt so relaxed, he met new friends, did new things etc. When he is there, learning is much more fun and easier and when he is away from the Centre he keeps reflecting on the  beautiful things he had seen and all he had done while at the Centre.

Children with autism are gifted beyond our thinking but first we need to believe in them and support them in every way we can, which is why The Learning Place is the very place where they should be for all that  which is inside of them to come to light, making them the nation builders that they are.  These children are blessings to their families, the society, nation and the world at large. The earlier we know these the better.

My Brother, Moniyi

By: Ayomikun Adewole, 12 year old brother.

When I first found out that Moniyi had autism, I was scared because I did not know what it was. I just knew Moniyi was very active, jumping and running indoors. My Mum did not know either, so she did a lot of research. She then taught me more about it and I started my own research too.

 My relationship with Moniyi is an ‘on and off’ relationship. It has its ups and downs. We have our good times and our bad times. I always used to fight with him when I didn’t understand autism fully and would always get upset for no reason. Now that I have learnt a little more about autism, I am getting along with him way better.

I love a lot of things about Moniyi. He is very outspoken and confident. He can do anything with anybody and does not mind who you are. He is a talented young man, who plays the piano, swims, reads, and plays basketball amongst other things.

Even though I have lived with Moniyi for a long time, we do not always get along. I sometimes get frustrated with him. He mostly wants to have his way; he throws tantrums for the most insufficient reasons. With his confidence, he takes things too far. He does not always respect other people’s space and sometimes needs to be controlled. He also gets me into trouble.

Moniyi has brought a lot of changes to my family. He has a special diet, his food is different, yet he still craves things outside his diet. I have stopped eating sweet things so that I do not tempt him. I have also had to adjust to his noise which is not always regular, I have learnt to take care of him and calm him down. It has not been easy but then, adjustments are not always a bad thing.

When he misbehaves, we sometimes take his possessions and threaten not to give them back if he does not behave. It often works because he wants his things back. We also ignore him sometimes and he stops misbehaving when he realizes he is not getting any attention. These are things that help us with him.

I read books about autism and I have learnt how easy it can be to actually live with someone with autism. Now I understand that Moniyi might have autism, but that will never stop him from being talented and smart. I will like to see him grow up to do something amazing and great like the famous great people that have been said to have autism. One day by God’s grace that will be my brother.

He might not be typical, but being typical can be boring. God has made him special for a reason; I will try to make the most of the special gift God has given to us in my family.

“My brother means the world to me”, Cheta Emuwa

Having a brother with autism has definitely been a huge learning experience for me as you learn to appreciate and live with their differences. Maybe it’s because of the age gap (I’m 19 and my brother is 12) that I can say I never really felt like my parents neglected me and gave him all of their attention. I feel like they found a way to balance everything- providing him with all the necessary attention he needs and still being there for us. Of course there were times I would throw strops and moan about how they didn’t care about me anymore but what child wouldn’t? Being the only girl out of 3 had its perks and then I had a little brother coming to steal my shine. I wasn’t having it.

Yet I grew to understand his autism more and more and would sometimes sit in his classes or read his reports to see how he was progressing and find out what I could do to help. Sometimes during the early stages it was hard, coming home after being away in school for a few months and he wouldn’t remember my name. I mean imagine your own brother forgetting your name; it was heartbreaking. But instead of getting upset I chose to help him by spending more time with him and reminding him of my name. I would sometimes read with him, he loves reading. Or run around the house with him, he’s so energetic. I would also take him to friends’ parties or houses to encourage him to socialize a bit more as this helps him build social skills that may come to us easily. It was important to also make sure that when he wants something, he asks for it properly. This was sometimes hard because he would often throw tantrums and scolding him as you might other kids would only worsen the situation. So you just have to explain to him, firmly, that he needs to be calm and that if he waits and asks nicely he’ll get it.

At home, he’s treated like the rest of us. He’s told off when he’s done something wrong and praised when he’s done something right. Despite not being able to eat a lot of foods (he’s on the gluten/casein/wheat free diet) it’s good that he really enjoys the foods that he does get to eat. Providing for children with autism can be both mentally and monetarily exhausting and so it’s good to know that he’s happy at home and that sometimes, I contribute to the smile he always has on his face. My brother means the world to me.

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