An Outside Perspective

​It is a fact of life that we cannot choose our families. The lack of control over many aspects of our lives can be frustrating at times, but we must accept the 1047931_10201513755832259_900054204_oconsequences nonetheless.  When you are mad at your mother, it is common to wish that you could have a different mother or perhaps that she would get abducted by aliens. However, the natural circumstances that brought me into a life with my older brother, Hayden Mears, created all but negative circumstances. I do not know at what age I fully realized that my brother had Asperger’s Syndrome, but I have known for as long as I can remember. In short, the 19 years that I have lived alongside Hayden have shaped a wonderful journey that has helped me become the person that I am today.

​My childhood with Hayden was eventful, to say the least. So eventful in the early years that my childhood could have been abruptly ended while I was still a baby. Luckily, the grandfather clock that Hayden knocked over missed my innocent little self and I lived to see another day. I began to realize the differences between me and my brother when my family moved from Oklahoma City to Savannah in 2001, when I was only in first grade. The earliest memories I have of life in Savannah with Hayden consist of a lot of outdoor play. He would love to search for lizards, snakes, and other animals. He would spend entire days and even some nights searching for animals. I now know that a common symptom of Asperger’s is extreme fixation, and this was his fixation at the time. My childhood in Savannah with Hayden was filled with frustration and conflict, but also enjoyment and growth. The fist fights over stupid things were balanced out by times of fun and childhood antics.

​As I gradually discovered who my brother was, I learned to accept his differences. It was frustrating at times because it was difficult to feel empathy for his actions, but I grew to love him for who he is instead of who he is “supposed” to be according to society. I was enraged when he was bullied in high school and middle school. It was absolutely disgusting. One of the worst part of Hayden’s Asperger’s is that it is not visible. Many other kids treated him differently because they could not see his“disability;” they simply thought he acted differently. But even if he does act differently, why should he be treated differently? This question has bothered me ever since. The mentality of“different is bad” seems to be very common in our society and is manifested in various ways. While people with “disabilities” (I hate that word) are accepted more and more each day, they are still often laughed at, ridiculed, and treated differently. In terms of politics, many people believe that different, unique ways of doing things are harmful, when in fact they can be very effective. And in many intellectual areas, different ways of thinking are actually encouraged. So why is difference not always encouraged in our personalities and abilities? Taking a step back and looking at things really opens your eyes, just as mine are now.

​I’ve developed a huge dislike for the word “disability”because it carries a negative connotation. I prefer to describe these people as simply having different abilities, not a disability. My brother’s syndrome has proven to be anything but a disability, and his different abilities have served him tremendously well. In high school, Hayden developed an extreme passion for writing (his new fixation). He began writing user movie reviews for Rotten Tomatoes and stories for his school paper. He even won an awesome award for his writing in high school. After he graduated, he went to the University of Tulsa for a short period of time where he wrote for their student paper as well. After a semester, he moved to Denver, enrolled in the Community College of Denver, and took part in a program called College Living Experience (CLE). This program taught him many useful skills and he left the program after 2 and a half years. While in Denver, he matured greatly as a writer and went on to write reviews and entertainment news for,  Starburst Magazine, and now WhatCulture. Additionally, he is now working on writing his own comic book, The Oblivion Chain, and co-owns a wonderful business, Asperger Experts. The best part? He hasn’t even finished his college degree yet! He has already achieved more than many others will achieve in their entire lives.. His Asperger’s symptoms are still manifested, of course, but that’s who he is. So to those who label his personality and his way of life as a “disability” can take a look at his accomplishments and try and explain to me how he is disabled.

​My best advice to those living with or raising people with Asperger’s is to accept them for who they are. Success is within reach; all they need is encouragement. Asperger’s symptoms should not be viewed as “disabling,” but rather as different ways of living. Hayden’s compulsiveness, fixation, and anxiety are part of who he is, and I love who he is. These symptoms do not define him as a person, but rather are pieces of the larger puzzle that is him. After Hayden was diagnosed as a child, the doctor said he would not be successful or social at all. He easily proved that doctor wrong. Hayden’s success story is remarkable, but it is not an outlier. Every person with Asperger’s is capable of success in his or her own way. My outside perspective on Asperger’s that I developed throughout my entire life may not have helped me fully realize what it is like to have Asperger’s, but it certainly helped me develop a love and appreciation for every human being by teaching me to love and appreciate my brother for who he is.

61 thoughts on “An Outside Perspective

  1. Thank you for sharing. My 9 year old son was diagnosed with ADD by an expensive neurologist when he was 6; but he definitely shows traits of Asperger’s. He is prone to fixations, rigidity, impulsivity, anxiety and outbursts that we are all trying to learn how to cope and deal with as a family. More recently we are learning how to approach him so he diesn’t immediately go into defense mode. His younger 6 year old brother, who is more sensitive and free spirited, is continually frustrated with him; but he’s starting to recognize that his older brother sees the world a little differently. To see how close you are with your brother now, and how you view him in such a positive light is music to my ears. My prayer is that my 2 boys will learn from each other, grow closer, and care more deeply for every person the God uniquely created.

  2. Thank you for sharing your feelings about being a brother. My aspie is the oldest of 5 children and I always worry how his behaviors affect our family, especially his siblings. I believe he is part of our family for a reason and will be a blessing to us as we strive to be a blessing to him. I really appreciate seeing how you were able to have a positive outcome in your own life.

  3. Thank you for your article. I appreciate hearing what is was like for you growing up. Thank you for mentioning the college Hayden went to. I looked it up and I’m excited about the possibility. My 19 year old son has been housebound for 2 – 3 yrs. He hasn’t graduated high school yet, a few more credits to make up. First I need to get him out of defense mode and get him out in the world. I have been wishing for a college type experience where he can move out and get the support needed to become independent and to thrive.

  4. Please tell us more about your experience and how we can help our other children who are dealing with having a sibling with Autism. It must be very challenging and I think we could learn a lot from your perspective of what you have learned. (AND your parents!)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am often so concerned about how my older son’s situation effects his younger brothers. One brother is only a year younger but they both bare the brunt of his fixations and behavior. I am also hopeful he will find his niche and continue to develop into the amazing person he can be

  6. I have three sons, aged 10, 8 and 2. The 8 year old has Aspergers. His older brother struggles with him and it can be difficult. Only last week he complained about having to stay behind at school while I had another meeting with my middle son’s teachers.

    However, one helpful resource for my reading and book mad children has been to read literature that addresses some of these issues. I highly recommend ‘The London Eye Mystery’ by Siobhan Dowd, which has prompted some very thoughtful reflections in my 10 year old. The booktrust website has a list of books recommended for if you have an interest in reading about autism, and we are making our way through them (check them out first, as they are aimed at all age groups and some may have some adult content that you are not happy for children to read until they’re a bit older).

    I would love to hear any other recommendations of literature or helpful books.

  7. It’s wonderful how you describe your brothers differences and not disabilities. I am raising a son who has Aspergers, he is 14 going on 15, I too have an older son, who is a junior in college. I think you and he would agree on the fact that your love and acceptance of your brothers has made you both, in a lot of ways, more accepting and loving people in general. It’s funny, I believe now, that God has given my son to our family, to teach us, make us better human beings, rather than some would believe it takes a special parent to raise a child with differences. He has taught me so much more, than I have him. I see his courage and determination, when he’s faced with a challenge, and there were many, with strength, conviction and persistence. He is a talented and creative mind, someday he would like to produce films. I say go for it… after reading your article, I am convinced more than ever, he can achieve anything in life, especially with the right support, Love and encouragement. Isn’t that true for any of us? I suppose that’s your point. Thank you for sharing your perspective, Hayden is blessed as are you.

  8. You are a wonderful brother! My older, grown daughter has cut all ties with her Aspergers sister. I’m proud of you for not doing this. Merry Christmas! 🙂


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