News Article Details

Brother on the 'spectrum?'

The Oak Ridger - 5/27/2018

DEAR AMY: Growing up, my 36-year-old brother always acted strangely, but we always chalked it up to the fact that he was shy. As he got older, we just said he was just a loner.

But now that I know more about autism, I believe he may have had this condition his whole life.

As an adult, he hardly interacts with the family - and when he does, he hardly makes eye contact, talks in a monotone, rarely smiles (even when talking about happy topics), and always seems uncomfortable.

The family always invites and includes him, but most of us feel uneasy about reaching out to him.

He lives a good life as a single man. He has a steady job and bought a condo. Should I just let things continue the way they are, or should I mention my suspicions of his autism to him or the family? - Curious

DEAR CURIOUS: I can't definitively identify or diagnose autism spectrum disorder in this context (or any other), but based on what you describe, it does sound as if your brother might be "on the spectrum."

Identifying his tendencies and behavior and assigning a name to it might provide you with some insight and (hopefully) understanding and additional compassion toward your brother, who seems to do well, despite his challenges.

You could explore your theory by reading up on Asperger's syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. There is a growing body of accessible materials available that will help you to understand qualities and traits that people with ASD have.

If you choose to share this with your brother, make sure you do so with an open mind and heart. Don't present this information to him as: "Now I know what's wrong with you." Say, "This material helped to give me insight, and I thought you'd be interested, too." He may not be interested in pursuing this insight or a diagnosis, but knowing more could help you to understand his particular gifts, tendencies and challenges.


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