Resenting or even hating a family member with Autism

My wife just started a new part time job selling children’s clothing at a local store, it’s a perfect job for her since she loves children and she loves dressing them up just as much. It’s been a couple of weeks and so her co-workers have adjusted to her being there and as such, found herself in quite the interesting conversation with one of them.

Cameron and Tyler

Brothers

The topic came up about our children, how Cameron has Autism and Tyler does not. At this point her co-worker shared that her brother has Autism and more so than that, she actually resents him… to the point of hating him.

Now, before I tell you what my wife’s response was to this, I’d first like to speculate just how much this might be the truth for other people out there… perhaps even more people than we might be aware of because it’s very likely that most would never confess such a thing, certainly not to anyone that would ever deliver that news back to the family.

It got me to thinking about it and even though I don’t understand, I sort of do understand too.

First of all, a sibling with Autism is likely to not play well with you, perhaps not even involve you at all and would have great difficulty sharing. Meanwhile your parents would likely ride you to no end to be extra nice to them because “it’s not their fault.”

You’d likely have to have them tag along with you or have them at your gatherings and so forth because it’s likely that your sibling wouldn’t have many friends if they have Autism. It’s possible, depending on severity, that they never really even had a normal birthday party and as such, your parents would impose all these extra demands and responsibilities on you, on your special day, to help your sibling feel involved.

I think you see where I’m going, the list can go on and on… even a high functioning sibling with Aspergers could become a burden on your life that you might grow to resent.

I would hope that most rational people would grow out of that resentment and finally understand what it was their parents were trying to do, but there’s no real guarantee of that happening, especially if the parents don’t recognize that and help it along some.

If the sibling is quite low functioning and needing a lot of help, to the point of (in your mind) stealing all of your parent’s time away from you… well, it’s easy to see where the resentment could grow from there.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I can see how my wife’s co-worker could feel that way… how I kind of feel bad for her that she had to feel that for so long. Not because she is a bad person for feeling it, but because she never had the guidance she needed to help her understand how much good she was doing in all the things she was likely asked to do, or sacrifice. That she was a needed part of her sibling’s upbringing and life to this day.

I certainly can’t say that she’s justified in feeling that way, no one should resent or hate anyone for having Autism. They didn’t choose to have Autism. But when I put some thought into it, I can sort of understand how it may have come to be.

I think it’s just important that we remember that it’s a distinct possibility in our own children. To always remember that siblings can resent each other no matter the situation but it’s so very easy to happen when one child is “different.” My little one, Tyler, is a very very kind soul and something tells me I will have nothing to worry about, but I can’t ever let it slip though. If we are not careful, if we miss something, he could hold a resentment just as my wife’s co-worker does. And I would hate for that to happen.

So what did my wife say to her in response to that? I’m paraphrasing a bit here but basically she told her co-worker, and all her co-workers:

“Honestly, if any of you deliberately ignore someone who comes in and has a disability of any kind, not only will I call you out on it and set you straight, I will never, ever talk to you again. It’s just something I will not tolerate.”

Not only am I proud of her, but so were her managers. They agreed, everyone that walks in gets treated the same, disorder, disability or nothing.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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24 Responses to Resenting or even hating a family member with Autism

  1. Carl Bainbridge November 30, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    this is one post i realistically think should be required reading for all parents

    not because our other children feel this way but because we need to realize that they also have needs and we have to be careful to make sure we meet those needs as well.

  2. mummy_pig1 November 30, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    Thank you for that post – it was really thought provoking. This is something that is very current for my family just now. I have a 6 year old son with Aspergers and a neurotypical 4 year old son. We have told the boys about autism but we are being very careful about how to explain and handle it at the moment. All we can hope for is that the younger one doesnt ever resent the older one but learns to understand his ways and that he is equally important to both his parents 🙂

  3. robyn November 30, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    wow, you wouldn’t believe it but I had this talk with my 13 year old daughter this morning b4 school, mainly because I want her to understand why her brother takes up more time and it seems that I may be more worried about what he does etc.. She is awesome, and a great sister, but I can’t wait to move and have access to a sibling support group in a bigger city. I’m sure that will help her no end.. Thanks so much for your wisdom 🙂

  4. outoutout December 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    This is a particularly sore subject for me, being the autistic sibling (although no one really knew it at the time). My younger brother remains convinced that I was loved more and treated better. He became my bully and abuser when we were teenagers… needless to say, we haven’t spoke in at least 10 years.

    I’m high-functioning enough to not be a burden on anyone’s life – I’m partnered with children, actually – but I guess my point is to nip this sort of thing in the bud before it becomes a much bigger issue of resentment later on.

  5. Hayley Bailey December 6, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    As the Mother of 2 girls born 12 years apart and to different fathers due to divorce and remarriage I have the same problem. My eldest Emma is a grown woman with ahusband and 2 children but it seems the olser she gets the more she appears to hate her younger sister Victoria. Emma continues to be resentful of Tori’s upbringing and intolerant of her siters mood swings comment or conversations. Victoria is now 17 and was diagnosed with High functioning Aspegers Syndrome at age 6yrs. During victoria’s younger years Emma was a delight with her but I see now looking back it was due to tori’s unpredictatable and outlandish behaviour being a sorce of fun for a young teenage girl. I believe the novelty wore off for Emma when she met Lee who is now her husband. Tori having the whole rooms attention was not then always wanted and so it started. I can not use the launuage that Emma uses at time to describe her younger suster on these pages the least offensive of them is attention seeking drama queen. I think a lot of the oroblem is that as Victoria has grown and matured to some degree that her abilities and disabilities for want of a better word are divided by a much finer line than before. We are fortunate that she has been able to learn some coping skills for being so badly bullied in public school and is relutantly finishing her A levels now. Her language skills have always been off the chart she was a big tall child who always looked to be much older than what was logical for the words and actions she delievered. Due to this fine line her sister who always doubted the diagnosis has become totally disinterestd in her. At a family gathering recently it reached ahead when after yet another caustic remark to Victoria from Emma regarding Victoria’s opinion on something, lets face it she has many but Tori just seemed to lose it and frankly told her sisteer where to go in just two words!!. The whole room wwas shocked and Victoria apolojised saying it just came out. Now while I don’t condone the choice of language, I can totally see where this came from. The years of put downs, ridicule and sarcastic remarks she has taken from her sister. Since then there has been one word uttered between them prhaps i should be grateful for the peace and quiet, however I just know nothing good can come from th feelings ther have for eacj other and it makes me incrediably sad.

  6. Suzy June 17, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    Wow did this open my eyes but ever! I have a 16 yr old & an 8 yr old both with Aspergers, ADHD, and my oldest has Bi Polar. We made a recent wide spread switch of all doctors and now they suspect the youngest of having Bi Polar as well so we are going through major retesting with behavioral monitoring with charting. They constantly battle over even the smallest of things. Our youngest is on the more severe side where our oldest is more high functioning. The youngest wants to always cling to her & have her constant attention. We just thought it was the age difference. Now that I have read this and do see that yes our youngest does require so much more of our time, attention, & care that it can be frustrating. We are also a Navy family and my husband is deployed so much that her care does get left to them a lot when he is deployed. All I can say is thanks so very much for all the very helpful & useful information ya’ll put out. I think I would be lost without it!

  7. Melissa October 27, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    I hate my autistic brother too. I am a 15 yr old girl and he is 18. He is way stronger than me and has pushed me down the stairs and hit me etc. My parents didn’t believe me when I told then he hit me, they said he wouldn’t have a reason to because he’s autistic and he doesn’t think like that. So I starting hating and avoiding him, which probably causes him to feel on edge around me so he hits me. Recently he hit a female member of staff at his college and they still didn’t take me seriously saying, he hasn’t hit anyone since he was 9 to the staff at his college!!!! >:0 anyway rant over, it was nice to see that other people thin the same way as me and I am not crazy!!!

    • Gab May 29, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

      You don’t even know how much I can relate to what you just said. I’m 14 and my autistic brother is 17, but it’s practically the same. I don’t even want to hate him, I just do.

  8. SB_Australia April 3, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    I used to work in an after school care centre & we had quite a few families with a child with a disability. I noticed that all of them treated the children differently to the point of forcing the “normal” child to be the keeper of the disabled child. The director tried to talk with one family about the resentment they were directly causing but she was told to butt out & leave the parenting to them…this family recently headlined when the “normal” sibling beat the disabled sibling into a coma because he was just so damn sick of being a surrogate parent!

  9. not right August 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    I don’t think what your wife did was correct, while there may be out there that are fair despite the problem there are other who are just plain unfair and hurtful. Your wife had no right to tell her that without possibly knowing the whole story, and if anything I feel sorry for the poor co worker who had no one on her side, how do you think that feels? My younger brother has autism and he is allowed to hit me and break my stuff and what do my parents do? Laugh. That is plain bullshit, and of course not all parents are the same because my friend who also has a sibling with autism has amuch better life in that aspect. You do not know how that woman’a family was to her, to what point the “love was share”. There is more than just “oh Im sad because he gets all the attention”. And you, with a son that is autistic should know that. I hate my brother because not only is he autistic but I get no respect from anyone in my family. Shame on your wife.

  10. michael November 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    sorry but i don’t agree with your wife. actually, i shouldn’t be polite about this, your wife is a dumb idiotic bitch. unless she knows the whole story of her co-worker, then correct me me if i’m wrong. but if not, then i can say that she had no right to call her out in front of everybody.

  11. Someone December 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    The ending seems off. How did it get to this? It is either you missed some parts, or did your wife just assumed that because a person hates her autistic brother she will refuse to provide service to all disabled people?

    People hate rude customers, but they have to provide service to them anyway. Why can’t it be the same for your co-worker and disabled people?

  12. Angry January 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    As I have found in my life, even the parents of an autistic child can have no reference point when it comes to being the sibling of an autistic child. It is well documented that siblings can suffer psychological trauma growing up in the shadow of someone whose behavior is so mysterious to them when young, and so troubling to them as they grow up.

    One of the greatest challenges often turns out to be watching their parents be mistreated or even abused by their brother or sister. This is not a black and white situation. You are not a robot. You love both parties unconditionally, as family members, how could you not find resentments bubbling within you amongst all the confusion?

    Of course the autistic person should not be ‘hated’ for actions they (to some extent) cannot be held accountable for, but it is absurdly shortsighted to judge this woman, when all she has done is be honest about something that far too many people are too scared to talk about.

    One of the greatest challenges of modern life is accepting that just because you have an unconditional love for someone in your family, that doesn’t mean you have to LIKE them. People earn our respect in this life and when they don’t, it is increasingly hard to ignore bad behaviour and forgive when we know the lesson has not been learnt and it will all most likely happen again.

    Good on this co-worker for voicing an unpopular opinion from a place of honesty and shame on anyone who judged her without knowing her full story.

    I sincerely hope your ride as a parent, and your son’s as a sibling, is one of the more straightforward stories we so commonly hear of, and you never have to know the rarer, but just as valid and real, experiences of so many people out there dealing with an autistic family member.

    Xx

  13. Teresa May 12, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Hi,

    I know this is a very old post, but I have to comment.
    My name is Teresa, I am the youngest of three children. My two older brothers (for their own privacy I will not disclose THEIR true names) Paul and Mathew get along really well. Mathew has Asberger’s Syndrome.

    Throughout all my childhood, Mathew and Paul would play together. Paul is very patient and kind, and loves his brother very much. Mathew also loves him. Before I was born they would play legos and make Popsicle robots, they would do everything together.

    Then I was born, and when Paul and Mathew were brought to the hospital, Paul walked over to me and my mom and said, “My baby.”. And I was his baby then. He loved me, always wanted to hold me and devoted his life to love me. Since Mathew loved Paul he also tolerated me, but I think he resented me for diverting Paul’s attention. When I was older and Paul was no longer obsessing over me, Mathew still held a resentment and didn’t want to do anything with me.

    I would sit alone for hours in a full house. Six years old, wanting to play with my brothers. I would ask them if they wanted to play, Mathew would say no. Then Paul and him would have fun together. Anytime I entered the room Mathew would roll his eyes. He hated me. Any chance he got he would try to put me down. I would cry alone in my room wishing for a sister. We lived in the country, so I couldn’t go to anyone’s house. So I was stuck in my house doing nothing but brewing the hatred for my brother that still hasn’t gone away.

    He has this label on me, “Evil”. Anytime I open my mouth he rolls his eyes, quips like “What’s she blabbing about now?” and often calls me an Idiot (My 98%SA disproves you kind Sir). He yells, he screams, when I ask him not to do something he purposely does it more. He never does anything like that to Paul. He’s even said to me on several occasions he hated me. I could be crying or bleeding and he would walk on by. Paul stubs his toe and he’s all over it.

    Every one would tease me too, ask me If I was autistic, and I might even be a little. I never got “Yo’ Momma” jokes and took them as a insult to my family honour (Yes I had a concept of Family honour in kindergarten) And I would freak out at my classmates when ‘apparently’ it was all a joke. Even now I often have to fidget and my friends catch me rocking back and forth… I barely notice it though. But that doesn’t change my emotional opinion of my brother.

    Just this year in highscool I got my first actual friend. Not someone who was just with me because I had home-baked desserts in my lunchbox everyday, but someone who actually loves me. She IS my sister no matter what our biological parents are. I can talk to her, she can talk to me and we can keep each other standing. But everyday I have to go back home and get verbally abused by my 18 year old brother. I’ve had enough, I want him gone. 3 more months until he’s 20. I hope he moves out soon. Then I can stop saying I hate my brother, I’m ok with him any time he’s not in the room.

    What do I do?? Continue waiting for him to leave my life so I can forget my anger and frustration? It’s a-lot better than the other alternative I was using before… Yeuch, bad decisions. Any time I tell my dad Mathew hates me he just gets mad and says “Mathew doesn’t hate you.” Anytime I start to cry in front of my parents(I try to keep it in all day and only cry alone) my mom says I’m over-reacting. But I’m not. I don’t know why they protect him so. He’s so rude, slams doors in their faces (Screams anytime he drops his keyboard) and ignores what they say. (Wow five pages on the word-processor, cut that down, I hope it still makes chronological sense.)

    I’m so angry 🙁

  14. judgemental wife July 9, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    your wife sounds like a horrible judgemental woman, her co-worker opened up her heart and confessed a taboo feeling to which your wife interpreted wrongly and has probably caused her co-worker great discomfort, shame on your wife

    • Teresa July 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      I agree with you.

      It doesn’t matter if you are Autistic, Disabled, or Able Bodied, there is no excuse for the kind of abuse some siblings of autistic children put up with.

      Every time it’s the same thing, “They can’t help it!”, “You should be more understanding.” Bull Shit. It’s because you failed as a parent in teaching your kid right from wrong. When someone goes and abuses people, does it matter if they are autistic or not? No! It doesn’t matter if you have a mental disorder, what matters is what you have done. My brother verbally abuses me. That makes him a bully. My brother pushes me, punches me. That makes him violent. My brother has Autism, this makes him different. It doesn’t make him innocent.

      And every one is giving support for people with Autism. When we, the VICTIMS speak up we are silenced because a visible minority is the abuser.

      Now there may be some cases where your wife could be right. Where it was the SIBLING who designated their autistic relative as a “retard” or “creep” and abused him/her. This is a case where awareness and education for non-autistic folk could help. However, telling a victim that they should respect the one who is making their life a living hell is inhumane.

      I won’t lie. I HATE my brother, I don’t give a crap what you or your wife think of me. I have had enough of his BS. He is capable of showing love, he has chosen to withhold it from me. So, as I would to anybody else, regardless of autism or not, I withhold it from him. I hate him, I hope he leaves my life, I hope I never see him again.

      I hope you raise your child well and he becomes an able citizen as many other autistic people I know. I hope you give up your bull-crap idea of changing the world to accept your child because it is not the world you need to prepare, it is your son. The world is unkind to those who are “different” because otherwise is would become unstable. There needs to be a balance of acceptance and common F#*@ing sense. I’m so tired of this… I’m done.

      I wish you, your wife, and your children well and hope you reconsider hating those who have expressed themselves.

      We have had enough hate and abuse We may try to run. We may try to hide. We may have contemplated ending it all. Because nobody believes us. Nobody cares about us. They blame us… So f#*k you.

      Goodbye,
      I apologize if I seem harsh or If you don’t appreciate my language. I have censored it in minor amounts for you.

      • wayne blackburn August 22, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

        you hit the nail on the head thank you!!!! theres no excuse 4 there abuse of us or the parents cadoning or even at times encouraging it they know they are doing wrong even a little kid knows its wrong do something bad they cant have it both ways acceptance into our society where if we pulled this crap we would be locked up 4 it but its basicly okay to terrorize us thats utterly unacceptable we have rights as do they however we are treat ed utterly exploitavely and expendable anyway hope you have a safe happy fullfilling life

      • Kira Engelhardt January 9, 2016 at 3:15 am #

        Yes. This is what I needed to read. Intentional or not has nothing to do with whether or not it’s abusive behavior.

  15. Human being March 20, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    Withholding love, no matter who it is for, is never the answer. If you’re the one with autism or the one without, forgiveness is the only thing that will bring you peace, and don’t think that your sibling won’t be transformed by it. Forgiveness transforms everyone.

  16. Timberface August 11, 2015 at 5:59 am #

    I have the same opinion of many others on here. It’s really great that she might feel “special” because she has an autistic child, but until she’s had an autistic sibling, she shouldn’t judge people that do. The siblings are the hidden victims of this disorder. They are held to different standards, and are often physically and verbally abused while the parents lecture them on how “lucky” they are to feel normal. The nonsense in this post about what you “imagine” they go through doesn’t make it past the tip of the ice berg. I was 2.5 years younger than my autistic brother. Latchkey children, we were alone for hours every day. By the time I was in junior high he was 100 lbs heavier and nearly a foot taller. He’d fly into rages over small things and hit me, claw me, bite me. And it would always be my fault for “letting it get to that point.” Or “provoking him.” Then they wonder why we move away. Or why we can’t stay out of abusive relationships. Go figure.

  17. friend of an aspie October 28, 2015 at 9:10 pm #

    Some good points about parents and siblings. I don’t understand how a salesworker who
    confided that she resents her brother resulted in your wife’s speech. Was the salesworker
    saying that she wouldn’t treat disabled customers well? Straw man tactic!

  18. Anonymous December 22, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    Your wife was in the wrong by doing that. The co-worker confided in her about her ill relationship with her sibling (with what I’m sure was hard to admit) and what does the new girl do? Make some big speech about serving every customer whether they’re autistic or not. Ummm…? Where the hell did that come from? Sounds like your wife is a major management brown-noser or forgot to take her meds one.

  19. Kate April 7, 2016 at 1:56 am #

    Geez, your wife sounds a bit harsh and judgmental. Just because she’s got a kid with autism doesn’t give her the god-given right to morally police others. The sad truth is, her autistic child is going to grow up and he may face discrimination at some point. I think that’s what terrifies her. She needs to come to terms with her own fears and not project her feelings onto other people around her as a way to control the uncontrollable. I feel sorry for the brother who’s going to cop it when he expresses negative feelings for having to put up with his sibling’s abnormal behavior. Parents feel so guilty for the disabled child the normal ones really suffer and are made to feel “crazy” for feeling perfectly normal feelings. I know from personal experience.

  20. Karen Lacey May 28, 2016 at 4:44 am #

    Are you kidding me, allowing a disabled child to abuse a non-disabled family member is a cop out plain and simple, I love my autistic child BUT she knows put your hands on anyone in the family and it’s time for the police to pick you up and juvie hall.

    My daughter wants to be a good person but she KNOWS I won’t accept abuse from her in spite of her challenges EVER, it helped her to GAIN CONTROL OF HERSELF by EXPOSING HER TO CONSEQUENCES. Imagine what would have happened if I played the sweet understanding mother and became a doormat for her, she would’ve treated me how she felt I deserve to be treated based on her feelings, NO THANK YOU THAT AIN”T Happening!

    Guess what the realization that there would be consequences made all the aggressive body language and simmered down her tantrums too. If your child is dangerous to family they need a psyche placement bottom line.

    This is the problem with autistic parents being so run down they gild the lily and excuse the actions that the autistic child is CHOOSING to inflict on family to make their life as parents easier, then they tried to claim the moral high ground, for allowing a healthy child to be abused by a disabled sibling while they neglect the healthy child.

    JESUS GIVE ME WISDOM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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