In New York City, we sat down with Annie, who is a student at Oberlin. One of the most poignant things about our interview with Annie is her close relationship with her brother, Lee. From the moment we asked her about him, she couldn't stop smiling.
Something that stood out almost immediately to us was her family's use of humor to cope with Lee's autism. The whole family thinks that Lee is hilarious and they often trade stories about him.
She understands Lee and, like many other sibs we've talked to, often finds herself playing a more nurturing role in the family, even from a young age:
Lee has reached all parts of Annie's life. She told us that Lee is such a fundamental part of who she is, she can't imagine not talking about him with her friends. Though she loves her brother deeply and appeared to have few negative feelings towards him, as a young girl she became interested in theater because it created a space where all the attention could be focused on her, and not her brother. Annie isn't the first sib that's mentioned an interest in theater.
She is also fascinated by people, which according to her, is a result of having a brother with Autism. As an English major, she is interested in the ways that experience can exist outside of language, since her brother's expressive language isn't as good as that of a neurologically typical person. She even recounted a story in which she used the critical theory she was studying in class to explain her brother's condition and experience to a fellow classmate. Because Annie is so close with Lee and the rest of her family, it seems like he's been a factor in most aspects of her life.