About Me (Julia) - part 1

Me - before I chopped my hair off!

Hi! I’m Julia Pressel and I’ve got an autistic brother named Austin. I’m 13, and Austin is 15. Even though I’m younger than Austin, I feel like his older sister. I know that it’s both hard and fun to have an autistic sibling. Sometimes Austin is so much fun to be around. He is happy almost all the time, smiles a lot, is very affectionate, and likes a lot of the same things that I do. Now that we are older it is harder because we are changing a lot. austin is a lot more moody now. he gets angry very quickly, and often demands for things.

However, he’s also a pain sometimes. Sometimes he doesn’t listen, has tantrums, throws things, breaks things, and has a bunch of stims -- his favorite is clapping, which he does really well, and loudly! Lately Austin has started lots of new stims, like; inhaling sharply, burping, snorting, and saying,"Ahuh hun huh hun" He listens to the same music over and over again! now i hate Michael Jackson's song "Bad" and know every word to it.(A stim means self-stimulatory behavior like clapping, flapping, rocking, or squawking – a repetitive behavior which the autistic child enjoys). He also used to run away a lot. That’s called elopement. One time my dad took us to Sedona, Arizona, where we went hiking in the woods. Austin ran away into some bushes. My dad ran after him. A few days later when we were back in L.A., both my dad and my brother got a really bad case of poison ivy!

Another time, right after September 11, 2001, my brother and dad were going through security at Los Angeles airport (LAX). That was back in the days when Austin would try to elope about every 30 seconds unless an adult was holding his hand. Well, for the 10 days that my dad was with Austin on this trip, practically the only time he let go of Austin’s hand was the few seconds when he had to put their bags on the x-ray table at LAX. As soon as my dad let go of Austin, he bolted – right through security! My dad had to chase Austin through the metal detector, right past soldiers holding guns! I’m so glad neither of them got shot!

My parents are divorced. We live part of the time in each of their homes. That means that I am the only person who sees Austin every day. Sometimes it’s hard for me to say goodbye to my mother or father, but I get over it. I often take care of Austin. Sometimes this is fun, and gives me good practice to be a babysitter when I’m a little older. Lately, unfortunately I find myself annoyed whenever I am asked to watch him, and I get impatient and irritated when watching him. When watching Austin, I must have a good attitude, and have an activity in mind that the both of us will enjoy. I know it’s not this easy, because I really enjoy being alone, but with an autistic sibling I have to understand, this isn’t always possible.

I watch Austin with my parents, his therapists, tutors, supervisors, doctors, teachers, and aides. It seems like he has a ton of people helping him. But there’s no one to help me. Which is why I’m starting Autism Siblings – so I can help other kids like me who have autistic siblings. The autistic kids get lots of help. We don’t. I want to change that.

While I watch all these people with my brother, I try to learn from the things that they do. Sometimes I see them do things that seem to help Austin. I try to do some of those things myself. I’ll try to tell you about some of those things in this website. Other times I see people do things with Austin that don’t help, or even make things worse. I think that I, and you, can learn from those things too.

I also have a couple of friends with autism or similar problems. I’ve hung out with them, and with some of Austin’s classmates. He has very few friends, because he doesn’t have the social skills or desire to start and keep a friendship. Austin now has a best friend that he always talk about. (it’s very cute to watch them cuddle and other interactions) Hanging out with other autistic kids is also fun. My dad tells me that I know more about autism and how to deal with autistic kids than most adults and many professionals that work with autistic kids. I know I have a lot more to learn. 

Part 2