For as long as I can remember, I’ve been treated like the older of two siblings, even though I’m two years younger than my brother Andrew. This is because he has XXYY syndrome, a rare condition where a boy is born with an extra set of chromosomes, resulting in medical and behavioral difficulties. It is common for boys with XXYY to be diagnosed with Autism, just like Andrew has. My unique relationship with him has required my helping with a multitude of things, from teaching him cool ways to shake hands to expressing emotion through tone. Despite the impact that I have on his day-to-day life, however, I am the one who has grown more through our relationship.
Our relationship has helped me understand that others, like him, are naturally deprived of opportunities like the ones that I have and that it’s a blessing to be in the position I’m in. I see that I must take advantage of all opportunities that I have, because I know that if he had the ability to live limitlessly like me, it would be impossible to stop him from striving to achieve his goals. As I’ve gotten older, this has pushed me to work harder in school and achieve newly developed personal goals. He’s not only gifted me a determined mindset, but also the positive habits to see those goals through. I’m a strong advocate for constantly seeking self-embetterment, and my brother has helped me carry this out in my own life. Over the years, he’s developed my ever-increasing patience, which has proven to be essential in my high school journey. For example, my current workload can occasionally be tedious. My diligence is derived from this increased patience, and has been monumental in my success as a student and as a person.
As my experiences with Andrew molded me into a multi-dimensional person, it pains me to see someone live such a one-dimensional life. My brother has a minor television problem, one that I know can be addressed. He comes home from school and watches for at least four hours, and at this point, it’s one of the few things that he cares about. I’ve been addressing this with both him and my parents, pushing all three of them so that Andrew will invest himself in more productive activities as well, like reading and drawing. I’m trying to better his life in this way because he needs to lose his extreme dependency on television in order to build passions in other activities, and ultimately see more in life than just a screen. The underlying objective in my actions is to reciprocate what he’s done for me, which is to develop into a more well-rounded person.
Andrew, my developmentally disabled brother, has changed me for the better. I’ve grown into a more holistic person because of him. Although he was the brother born with more challenges, I was the brother who had more to learn.
Written by Robbie Brumm