If you Love Christmas and I really mean LOVE Christmas, you will love Jasmin. Thanks to DirecTV music channels, every day is Christmas in our house. She sings every Christmas song and gets excited whenever she sees Christmas decorations. If you Love Titanic (like me), you will Love Jasmin. She is one of the few people that will sit with me through the entire three hour film and enjoy every minute of it like it’s her first time watching it. If you love food, you will definitely love Jasmin, because the girl can eat. If you are a Disney World fanatic, take Jasmin. As long as you make it to the spinning teacups ride, she will love you forever!
So who is Jasmin? She’s my older sister by six and a half years. She is one of a kind. Her brain works in ways that most people will never understand; I will never understand. I have spent my entire life knowing and living with Jasmin, and 25 years later I still don’t understand how her brain works. She is BEAUTIFUL. She is BRILLIANT. She is DIFFERENT. She has an attitude out of this world end unmeasurable strength. She has Autism.
What is Autism? Autism is a developmental disability, with signs typically appearing during early childhood. The cause of Autism is still unknown, and there is no cure. There are different levels of Autism ranging from high function, meaning a person can engage in daily activities with minimum help. Then you have low functioning people who need constant care on a day to day basis. Jasmin falls somewhere in between.
Growing up I never fully understood where my sister fell on the Autism Spectrum. I knew something was different about her, like she can’t talk but can communicate verbally. Confusing, right? I didn’t try to understand because she is my big sister and I love her. As I grew older and had different experiences with her, I came to realize that not everybody sees Jasmin the way I do. Not everyone understands Jasmin, the way I do.
Having a sibling with Autism is a constant struggle, because we do not always know what she’s feeling. I look at Jasmin every day and wonder if she likes me? Does she love me? Does she even know I’m her little sister? What does she think of me?
When I get ready to go out, she will stand in the hallway for an hour watching me get ready. As she watches me put on makeup and decide on an outfit, I wonder if she wishes she could be heading out to hang with friends. Or maybe she just wants me to leave because I’m disturbing her peace.
On days that I’m having a bad day and on the verge of tears, I go and lay down with her. I wonder if she understands that I’m sad and just need a hug. Honestly, sometimes I wish I could spend a day in her head to understand how she processes things.
Living with a person with Autism is full of adventure and new experiences. I never know what I’m going to get. One day she can be happy, the next day she can be sad and just wants to lay in bed all day. On other days she may throw a temper-tantrum because she didn’t get her way. Having to constantly think about how others will perceive Jasmin, I second guess inviting friends over, because I’m not sure if they will be comfortable around her. I also have to think about Jasmin when I’m dating. She is going to be around and if someone can’t accept her then I will have to let him go. It doesn’t matter how much I like or may be in love with the person.
The hardest moments come when we’re out in public. The constant stares and the look of confusion on people’s faces when she does something odd or makes a strange sound. It can be nerve wrecking. One time, several years ago, I had to run to the mall. I decided to take Jasmin since I had a friend with me. The game plan was to leave her in the car with the friend. As I got out, she decided she was coming with me. I was so nervous, but it was clear she was not getting back in the car. My friend sat there and wouldn’t help me. I took a deep breath, grabbed her hand and let her take the lead. Inside, she went straight to the Great American Cookie Company counter. Suddenly, I realized I hadn’t grabbed my wallet when I exited the car. Panic set in.
Jasmin stood at the counter waiting for me to buy her a cookie. I tried calling my friend, and he wasn’t answering. I tried pleading with the casher, but she wouldn’t work with me. By now Jasmin had become agitated and was causing a scene. Between trying to get the employee to understand my sister’s disability and trying to get Jasmin to calm down, I became overwhelmed. Finally, an older woman offered to pay for the cookie. Just like that the crisis was over. I gave her the cookie, and we walked around the mall until she was ready to go back to the car.
I left the mall heartbroken, embarrassed, and even angry towards my sister. On the ride home I was asking myself, “Why is she like this, because I hate it? Why couldn’t she just be “normal?” Then I felt anger towards the employ that refused to help me. I wasn’t asking for a free meal; all I needed was ONE cookie. That’s all it took to get Jasmin to calm down and away from the counter. It was one simple act of compassion and she couldn’t give it. I was so thankful for the woman that came along and paid for the cookie, because had she not; I hate to think how differently things could have turned out.
There are so many things I wish I could understand about Autism. But what I do know is that people with Autism are smart and loving. I am so blessed to have a big sister like Jasmin. Having her in my life has definitely taught me patience, compassion, and how to adjust to someone else’s learning needs.
To my beautiful big little sister, I love you. I will go to the moon and back for you. I will not trade you for the world. You are without a doubt the biggest supporter of all of my foolishness and I wish everyone could have a Jasmin in their life. You are my world! Thank you for being so amazing My Love.