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Lucy: Interview 11

Age at interview: 18
Brief Outline: Lucy's older brother, aged twenty-two, has been diagnosed with autism. She also has a sister who is thirteen years old.
Background: Lucy is a full-time student and lives away from home during term time. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

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Lucy’s brother is twenty-two and is four years older than her. He was diagnosed with autism when she was a toddler and, consequently, she cannot remember anything about the diagnosis. She says she has grown up always knowing he had autism and recalled that he had had problems at school.
 
According to Lucy, she and her brother often do not “see eye-to-eye” and have many arguments. These can be over things like sharing the computer or what to watch on TV. She thinks this is normal brother-sister conflict, but also it differs from that of other siblings because “he won’t always find a compromise” and cannot see things from her perspective.
 
Lucy’s experience with her brother has had a positive impact on her as it has made her “a lot more aware of disabilities”. Having briefly attended a support group for siblings in her local area when she was about nine, she thinks that a support group for older children, who are more aware about autism, would be more appropriate. 
 
 
 

Lucy discusses how family holidays always involved visiting train stations at her brother’s...

Lucy discusses how family holidays always involved visiting train stations at her brother’s...

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Yes, so he’s also got this love for trains also, so we always end up going on holidays, where like we spend half the time going to steam railways, which now that I’ve, now since I turned sixteen, I stopped going on them. I was like right, I’ll stay at home. I’m not going to go to any more steam railways or museums, all that lot. So I just like right leave that away now, I don’t have to deal with that any more. 
 

Lucy feels she has “missed out” on having close relationships with her siblings.

Lucy feels she has “missed out” on having close relationships with her siblings.

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Sometimes I feel I do miss out on maybe like childhood sibling friendships and that. Because some siblings are like really close and you know, there’s ties there like, you know, they’ll always be together, be close and all that lot. They’ll be practically like, I would say like a friend, because sometimes as friends you may say, “oh we’re like sisters”, but in other ways I’d be like “oh we’re really close friends”, like that and the other way round, because I feel like, you know, my relationships with my friends are closer than what, is what, which I have with my siblings. Yeah, there’s just the closeness I could be with my like brother and sister, whereas I see like my friends they’re really close, whereas I’m less, so …
 

Lucy says that her choice of degree may have been influenced by having a brother on the spectrum.

Lucy says that her choice of degree may have been influenced by having a brother on the spectrum.

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I’m not quite sure if it did or not. It’s going to, well I kind of chose psychology, like, just it was something maybe slightly touched on at secondary school and it’s like, “Oh that’s interesting”. I was really interested what it was about. And I went and I started it. And at first, when just going in first like of couple of weeks like A levels and stuff, I was like didn’t really know what I wanted to do and stuff and I was, I was good at it. I did get a good grade and I was interested in it. But at the same time I was like, “Oh I don’t think I’ll do psychology. I don’t think I’ll do that.” And I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but then I guess by the end of like the first year, where it’s like we’ve got to start making decisions now. Have to decide what you want to do. Other subjects I was taking I was like, “Okay, I just, this one seems the logical option. I just, I’m good at it, and I enjoy it, then I should probably go towards that direction and then during like revising I kind of read a bit and I was really interested in that, and all right that is what I want to do. I’ll go and get into it. But obviously I’m not sure whether because with my brother whether that did have any influence, whether it was subliminal or something. Do you know, it wasn’t in my head to begin with so …
 

Lucy feels her parents have been mainly focused on her brother.

Lucy feels her parents have been mainly focused on her brother.

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Yeah, I guess it would. If we were, if I was lot closer with him, or I mean if he didn’t have Asperger's maybe it would be slightly different. We would be closer and then I’d be close to my family. But because my parents have mostly put a lot of time into him, making sure he’s getting, you know, getting through okay like jobs, money, and that sort of stuff. Then I kind of lose out, I lose out on like, it’s not like attention, but that sort of idea. So that’s why I want to become more independent and I go off and do my own thing, than like stay with the family. And like sometimes friends talk about how, like how they’re like how she wants to go see her family all the same, and how much, because she hasn’t got time she’d rather go and see them, and spend time with them and I’m just like okay. I’m fine. I’d just rather go and see my friends or whatever. But I’m okay with it. I’m just like, well I’m growing up moving on now, so I still go back...And I still like go out for like family meals at the moment and Grandma’s eightieth we went out the other weekend, and that’s when I do like try and stay in touch and stuff, like with grandparents and all that, so.
 

Lucy thought autism was “more of a recent thing” in her family and so it would not affect her...

Lucy thought autism was “more of a recent thing” in her family and so it would not affect her...

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I’ve never really thought about that would happen, because I don’t think there’s like other cases in our family where there has been autism, since it is more of like a recent thing. Like you wouldn’t back, like grandparents having autism or whatever because people just didn’t know about it then. So I guess if I did have a kid and they kid have autism I would know a lot more about it and have to deal with it. But I wouldn’t worried if they did or not. It’s something that I would just take in my stride and adapt to.
 

Lucy thought her sister would be a better carer to their brother because she “gets on with him a...

Lucy thought her sister would be a better carer to their brother because she “gets on with him a...

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It will probably be better off her looking after him. Because, like our relationship isn’t that great so if it were me, I would be kind of more like forcing him to do stuff or having arguments so… it would be better like my sister, who like gets on with him a bit better than me so… I mean I could be, I mean I could go back help out just like, “You need do this, you need to do that”. But other than that, you can do it yourself really. Because as I see him, that he is older than me. He is an adult now. He should be able to do those things, even though he can’t.
 

Having a child on the autism spectrum is something Lucy would take in her stride.

Having a child on the autism spectrum is something Lucy would take in her stride.

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I’ve never really thought about that would happen, because I don’t think there’s like other cases in our family where there has been autism, since it is more of like a recent thing. Like you wouldn’t back, like grandparents having autism or whatever because people just didn’t know about it then. So I guess if I did have a kid and they kid have autism I would know a lot more about it and have to deal with it. But I wouldn’t worried if they did or not. It’s something that I would just take in my stride and adapt to.
 

Lucy attended a support group, but she did not find it very helpful because it did not have many...

Lucy attended a support group, but she did not find it very helpful because it did not have many...

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There wasn’t like any books round then. But I think I remember there was this one lady who was a lot involved with like the autism thing. She set up this like little group thing for people who have siblings and then we’d all go along to it. There would be like a few of us going and talk about things or doing things. I can’t remember much but I guess there were a few of us, and we just didn’t quite click or whatever. We went out for like a picnic and swimming and stuff, but I don’t think we went anywhere. I guess it’s more learning about what other people have to go through and there was similar people. That was really about it, really.
 
How old were you when had that?
 
I think I was still in primary school at the time. So I was still quite young and I think that was the time about when he was, I think when it was at its worst really, when he was younger. So that’s, yes.
 
And how long did it last for?
 
It didn’t last that long I don’t think. It was like a weekly session you go to. I don’t think it worked really out that well, because only a few of us who went, but there was I don’t think it really I had that really much really. But I only just remembered it to be honest. I was like right, yeah, I did go to this thing. So… it didn’t really have that much of an impact. I just thought, kind of thing, “I don’t really know what to do”, but my Mum kind of sent me off to it.
 
 

Lucy says that her relationship with her brother is more “practical” than “emotional”.

Lucy says that her relationship with her brother is more “practical” than “emotional”.

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Having a sibling like my brother is different. There was a different dynamic in relationship. There’s, you’re not, you wouldn’t be having a sit down and chats for hours. It’s more of a, more logical and practical relationship I would say. Not quite like emotional attached or anything. That is more what the relationship is like, but at the end of the day you are still brother and sister, so you will, you have that attachment and you will have to go and do and stuff together. So you do all like the practical things, you do with like any brother or sister. But like the depth of like emotional or attachment would be a lot less, I would say.
 

Lucy sometimes gets on with her brother but they generally just avoid each other.

Lucy sometimes gets on with her brother but they generally just avoid each other.

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Sometimes I get on, sometimes, most of the time it’s not. It’s kind of difficult with my brother, we wouldn’t see eye-to-eye a lot, so there’s a lot of arguments there. Though sometimes we do get along, we make things work or just generally avoid each other [laughs].
 

Lucy says she misses out on having an older brother and feels that she is the older sibling.

Lucy says she misses out on having an older brother and feels that she is the older sibling.

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It’s been like different from other people. Because when I hear like other people with their older brothers, or, always a lot more caring, maybe protective over each other. Maybe their older brothers, like, like they bring them out like in their group of friends to have like, with my brother I don’t get that. I feel like maybe I may have lost out on that kind of having an older brother sort of attitude or stereotype. Because I guess kind of it’s like he’s, he maybe the older, the oldest child, and older than me, and should be maybe like looking after me and whatever, like sometimes I do with my sister. But otherwise I kind us we’re both the oldest sort of thing. Even though I am the second child I just feel like, yeah, it’s just, and that’s what I kind of miss out on. And like it’s almost as if I’m the eldest and sometimes I feel yes.
 

Lucy read ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’.

Lucy read ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’.

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But I think I also did read ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’. About that. That was one of the book I did read, I was able to read that book, and I can be like...obviously it was like... quite a few people. And I said, “Yeah, I read that, my brother has autism.” Bringing it up. So sometimes it’s quite like a novelty to bring it up or something. 
 
And how do people react when you bring it up?
 
There wasn’t like such a big reaction or anything. It was just like alright, okay. You know, they’re, they’re indifferent really so it’s not much. There wasn’t like, “Oh my God! Or anything like that so.”
 
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