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Damian: Interview 07

Age at interview: 29
Brief Outline: Damian's younger brother, who is now twenty-five, has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
Background: Damian works as a learning support worker, supporting students who have Asperger's syndrome. He has two brothers. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

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Damian has two brothers, and is particularly close to his younger brother who has Asperger syndrome. According to Damian, his brother “can be quite aggressive”, “struggles in social situations” and needs routine and structure. At age sixteen, his brother left home and went to live at a residential unit because he had become “quite stressful to live with”. Damian felt that this was good for his parents because it gave them some space and allowed them to focus on other things other than his brother.
 
According to Damian, when his brother causes problems at home, his parents phone him for help. Damian feels that it was nice to know that his brother looks up to him, but also that “it’s quite a lot of responsibility”. Damian thought that one of the best things about his brother was his sense of humour. He often has him “in stitches”. However, sometimes he can “go over the top a bit” and needs to be told to stop. 
 
Damian sustained a traumatic brain injury about one year ago. Following his injury, he found that he “got frustrated with noise, decision-making, being put on the spot and keeping up with conversation”. He feels as a result he now has a better understanding of Asperger syndrome. 
 
Damian worries about his brother’s future but believes that he and his older brother will help him as best they can. Damien explains how he would not change his experience with his brother “for the world”.
 
 

Damian explains how family holidays have to be carefully thought out.

Damian explains how family holidays have to be carefully thought out.

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Oh definitely. We would rarely go on holidays, because holidays were always quite difficult with [brother’s name]. We always had to think about, we always had to think about what we were going to be doing so not to break his routine or the structure. Yeah, constantly, constantly sort of thinking ahead. You know, most families would go on holiday to Disneyland. That was never a possibility with [brother’s name]. It was too much to think about, too much to plan. We would need a holiday after the holiday yeah...
 
What kind of things would you have had to plan, if you were to go on a big holiday like that?
 
Well we’d, I think taking him out of his environment was probably the biggest challenge. Getting him used to a certain place would take time... 
 
 

Damian did not know who to “have a go at” when he overheard his friends saying negative things...

Damian did not know who to “have a go at” when he overheard his friends saying negative things...

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When I was younger, I used to really get annoyed. I found myself asking why, why has he got this? Why can’t he be normal? All my friends would know he was different. And I’d overhear my friends talking about him, taking the mickey, and that, that was hard to hear. But I looked at other brothers and relationships they had and I often thought why can’t I have that relationship with my brother? Why can’t we be normal and go out and play football, and not worry about whether he’s going to have an outburst? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, it was hard at times, especially growing up, yeah, definitely.
 
And when you overheard your friends taking the mickey out of him, how did you react to that?
 
This sounds really harsh, but I didn’t know whether to have a go at them, or have a go at my brother for being different, you know, that was...
 
 

Damian thought that his parents should have received more help in securing financial support for...

Damian thought that his parents should have received more help in securing financial support for...

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I think there could have been someone to offer my Mum and Dad help. Not so much me, definitely for my Mum and Dad, yeah.
 
Sorry why is that?
 
Because they were very, very stressed having to fight for him for funding and stuff like that. And it would have been nice for someone to be there to point them in the right direction.
 
 

Damian needed information for his job.

Damian needed information for his job.

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So you think your brother kind of led you to doing the work you do now?
 
Yes, oh yeah, definitely.
 
Have you tried to find out information about Asperger's throughout or life, or when was the first time that you really started to look for it?
 
I first sort of read about it and looked into it as I was starting this job.
 
When was that?
 
Sort of been about two years ago. Because each case is different. So I thought I’d get a wider sort of knowledge of it. 
 
But you didn’t feel at any point when you were younger that you needed to know about what Asperger's was? No?
 
No. I just needed to know about [brother’s name], you know, I was living with [brother’s name], and I needed to know what was, what was what was best for him, you know.
 
And do you think that you would have liked to have information when you were growing up about what Asperger's was?
 
I think it would have helped, yeah. There’s a lot of things that he did, I wouldn’t know why he was doing it. I think if the information was here, I would have said, “Oh right, okay, that’s why he’s doing it. This is his Asperger's Syndrome.”
 
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