“Growing up with a younger brother with autism definitely made me who I am today.”

Alisha: “I am a support coordinator, and I I just got a promotion to regional supervisor. I set up services for adults with disabilities. Whether it is day programs, or getting them set up in college classes, transportation, I set them up with a weekly schedule of individual support people to assist them in the community.

“I got into this field because I grew up with my brother, Mike, who is autistic. I had to grow up very fast. I had to learn patience at a very young age, and I was understanding of his unique situations. I felt like a third parent as a kid growing up.

“When I was little, he wasn’t higher functioning like he is now. He had behaviors, and I couldn’t really talk to him. He was in his own world. It was a lot of stress. I never felt unsafe with him, because I knew he would never hurt me, but I felt scared for him because I was afraid he was going to hurt himself. I dealt a lot with anxiety and different issues that people just don’t understand unless they went through the same thing.

“I remember watching a video in school and it was talking about, ‘Imagine if you were never getting married, and never had kids, and could never drive, and never had this, and never had that.’ And I was sobbing watching it. And I was like, ‘That’s not true! You don’t know how things can turn out for someone when they get older!’

“And now Mike is a grown man, and he has a job, he goes to his day program, and he is very independent. He is capable of doing anything he sets his mind to. I am so proud of how much he has grown as a person, and I am so inspired by him. Not only me, but he inspires everyone around him to be better people. Growing up with a younger brother with autism definitely made me who I am today, and I am so thankful for that.”

~ Brick (Alisha with her brother, Mike)