My sister Rileigh was diagnosed with Autism at just 2 years old; I was only three. We’ve grown up doing everything together. Growing up I was Rileigh’s sister, best friend, translator, caretaker, bodyguard, and “therapist in training.” As her sister, I took on more roles than a typical sibling would. I am incredibly thankful to have been a part of Rileigh’s journey. She has shaped me into who I am today. With that, comes a feeling of anxiety, a fear of the unknown, and sometimes feelings of loneliness. My parents took every opportunity to talk to me and educate me on Rileigh’s diagnosis of Autism. Through my parents help, it brought a better understanding and helped validate my feelings. One thing I wish I had growing up was a place just for me and for things to be about me.
I continued to attend Rileigh’s ABA sessions, speech & OT sessions, and doctor’s appointments. A big portion of my life was centered around my sister. I wanted a place where I could go, and it could be about me, a place where I could make friends just like me. I wanted to meet people who understood my sister and understood all parts of being a sibling to someone touched with Autism. This is exactly what our mission is with Sibling Support Group at ABA Enhancement (ABAE). ABAE has created a safe place for siblings of all ages, to share stories, make friends and learn how to navigate situations with their siblings. I am so grateful to help create something I feel is greatly needed in the autism/special needs community. Being a sibling is so special, and every sibling deserves to be celebrated and appreciated just the same.
Today, my sister is 23 years old and attending an independent living certificate program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I will continue to study to become a BCBA and be a part of other family’s journeys just like mine. Rileigh is and always will be my biggest inspiration in life.