* To offer my experience as a sibling of a severely handicapped person to other siblings who have faced and are confronting similar situations;
* To look at the state of treatment of mental health conditions, past and present;
* To talk about medical ethics regarding mentally handicapped;
* To see if public policy meets the needs of mentally handicapped;
I grew up in the 1950s. There was something wrong with my older brother. He has never spoken and it was never obvious to me if he knew who I was. My parents took him everywhere to try to find out what it was. I don’t know when it was finally decided that he was autistic and profoundly retarded. Mike lived at home until I was ten years old, when he was brought to live at Willowbrook, a mental institution on Staten Island, NY. He lived there until it was closed (in the 1970s) after wide-scale abuse was uncovered. My family and I used to visit him there. Today he resides in a group home.
My quest to understand Michael has led me in many different directions. During my early years, I wrote many of my thoughts on paper, partly to help me think. Later, when I studied photography, I found another way to examine my relationship with him. It also helped that he wasn’t aware of what I was doing and couldn’t “shoot back”. I began a long-term personal project about our relationship and brought it with me to every workshop and class I took. I have a draft of a photographic memoir called My Brother Michael, which I hope to have published.
Although today, I am not involved with autism or autistic individuals on a daily basis, it has shaped my life. I hope that my experiences are relevant to those struggling today.
I am truly impressed with this very informative Blog! Jack Davis, has shown that brotherly love is still alive and well. Everyone should read this whether you have a similiar situation, siblings, or just to become more informed. Thanks, Jack for bringing this to our attnetion.
Maureen Purwin Psomas
Thank you, Maureen. I appreciate your thoughts!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photographs. Looking forward to more!
I’m happy that you are enjoying my posts. More to come!
Thanks for stopping by my mental health blog at http://annmariecodori.wordpress.com/
And thank you for raising awareness about an important and very personal topic.
Thank you, Dr. Codori.
Hello and just to say,
My younger brother has severe autism like your brother, and I find your blog inspiring!
I do find writing about it helps and I have also started a blog about my relationship / experiences with autism though I am new to blogging.
Thanks for sharing about your brother, I hope to do the same!
Thanks, Hannahraphy. I’m so happy to know that you are inspired by my blog! Don’t be afraid of your feelings. My Mom always told me that I could think whatever I want, it is what I DO that counts. In terms of writing, however, I have found that I need to write, put it away for a while (even just an hour or two) then come back to it as a reader, not a writer. I’m looking forward to reading about your experiences. Thank you so much for your comments.
Thanks for the advice!
Yes, I have so much to write about and as I’m keeping him anonymous for now, I can write about most things!
I loved your blog on the dark sense of humour it made me laugh, I honestly think it’s so true.
Thanks, Hannah. Yeah, Gallows Humor has always been my cup of tea. It’s not for everyone, though.
Good idea about anonymity in your case. I am less guarded about it, myself, although I try to be respectful of “innocent bystanders”… and others as well. I figure I’m safe in expressing my own feelings, but it can get a little dicey at times. Discretion is the better part of valor, as they say.
I will be very interested to read this blog Jack. I am a mum to 3 children with autism and a neuro typical. Will be interesting to read more sides of the story .
Thank you, Wendy. I read some of your blog. You should be very proud of Elyssia. She writes with much compassion about her sibs.
Thank you for commenting.
Great info. It wasn’t until I had started climbing my own career ladder that my husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I became involved in mental health advocacy. I’m discovering many like minded people in working to save their families and the people they love within the confines of our medical environment. You have a wealth of information posted. Thank you.
Glad that you got an answer about your husband, Sheri. You may be interested in a book I’m reading, called ‘Saving Normal’ by Allen Frances, about the DSM-5 disaster; he has a good deal of authority, having chaired the DSM-IV task force. Another book about DSM-5 is ‘Book of Woe’ by Gary Greenberg. A scathing indictment of the process and the document. Psychiatric diagnosis is going to be rough going for a while.
Thank you again for your comments.
Thanks for the book recommendations. I’ve been reading the changes to the DSM-4 and thinking what a field day the insurance companies are going to have with it. I can see the lobbyist now. It was tough achieving parity for mental health. It was actually beyond tough. I feel as thought we’ve taken a step back of about a hundred years.
Glad you’re interested in the books. It is the drug companies who will/are making out like bandits. The insurance companies will pass costs on, and won’t be hurt too much, but they certainly haven’t succeeded in stemming ‘diagnostic inflation’, to borrow a phrase from Dr. Frances.
Books are on order. A big thank you to you. My blogs for the coming week are related to over medication of my husband. It’s been a constant battle of my reading every insert once a medication is prescribed and then doing research upon more research looking for ramifications for what the drugs might do to his physical organs as well as his mind.
I love reading your blog! It is so real and inspiring to me. I do not have a blog on here, however my partner does and he follows you. We have an autistic son named Nico. Your writings have made a serious impact on me and I hope that you continue sharing your thoughts! Great work!
Thank you so much, Vera! This is the reason I write my blog. I strive so much to make a difference and it is really gratifying to know that I’m on the mark. You inspire me to continue, which I surely will.
Very best of luck with your son Nico.
Hello again, Vera,
I just realized that Nico is Rohan’s and yours! I love Rohan’s work. Please let him know. I loved the post about the rain.
Hi Jack, I came by to thank you for deciding to follow Wine and Cheese (Doodles). What a wonderful blog you have–and what a beautiful ideal fuels it. As the mom of two boys, I can only hope and cross fingers, toes and everything else that they are blessed to have a relationship that is founded on Brotherly Love. I look forward to coming back and reading more. Thank you again, Dina
Thank you Dina, for your kind words. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog as well.
You have a very pointed, beautiful blog. My dad is a psychologist and my mom was a psychiatric nurse. Growing up, I sometimes had to go to their work and saw the patients. I think it taught me a profound sensitivity to the marginalized, which I also sense in your writing. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, too, for stopping by my blog Backyard Philosophy and letting me find this.
Thank you, Brett. Exposure to those who are having problems can make one more sensitive to their plight. It is also very enriching. Thanks also for noticing my attempt to stay focused. It would be very easy to wander, but I try organizing it in light of my mission.
Again, thank you for your kind words.
I really enjoy the concept of your blog! The aspects you bring up in all of your posts are extremely interesting and I enjoy seeing the different perceptions that come through all of your writings! Can’t wait to read more of your posts!
Thank you, Chelsea. I do try to honor the mission of my blog, although I get off base sometimes. Even then, I try making connections with my topic: autism and siblings of autistic brothers and sisters.
Thanks again for your kind words. Hope you enjoy my other posts.
To witness the courage of others is always healing. Thank you. — The Healing Garden gardener
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Pleased to have found such a heartfelt and important blog. Lots to think about! Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox.
Thank you so much, Thom. I appreciate your kind words and am very happy to have reached you.
Glad to find your blog today from Liz at Living with Autism. I worked at Willowbrook for 5 years in the early 70’s… perhaps I knew your brother!
Thanks. Glad to find your blog as well. My brother was there from early 60s until it was closed. He was in building 13 I think. That must have been an experience working there.
Thanks for visiting.
I’m delighted that you decided to follow First Night Design – thank you!
Thank you. And thanks for following me too.
Just a suggestion:
Go to Settings>Sharing, and select the checkbox – Front Page, Archive Pages, and Search Results
Now if someone visits your blog, he/she may like the post without opening the post separately. It will help you get more likes on the blog.regards, http://YourWellWisherProgram.wordpress.com
Thanks. Just saw your comment now. Somehow ended up in the spam bucket.
I implemented your suggestion. Thanks again.
Thanks for following me as I journey toward becoming a special education teacher! 🙂 You have an amazing story and an even more amazing brother. I’d like to invite you to connect on Facebook as well — I recently created a page for my blog specifically to facilitate communication with like-minded folks. Hope you connect with you there! 🙂
Thanks Karen. Will try connecting with you on your fb page.
I think I followed you on Facebook.
My daughter has a rare, incurable, and progressive heart disease. She has 3 sisters. I’m amazed at the amount of strength and maturity and compassion they show her. They were 14, 9 2 at the time of diagnose. Baby has never known her any other way. The other 2…..there have been a few issues but it’s amazing the amount of selflessness they have when it comes to their sister. Growing up with special needs in the home is nothing I expected. It seemed to come natural to them. Just the of a sibling. Of course, there is the other way to go. Resentment, jealousy of the child that needs more. I’m proud that isn’t the way it turned out. But, it’s always been in the back of my mind. They are just good sisters, like you are a good brother. http://www.phinvisibledisease.org/
So sorry to hear about your daughter. Glad to know that her sisters have developed compassion, love and maturity. It wouldn’t have happened, though, without a supportive and understanding parent. I hope they know that it is also ok to have other feelings as well. It is natural to have and acknowledge those feelings. Good sisters (and brothers) can have both kinds of feelings.
Thank you for your kind words, and your comment.
Because I love reading your blog, I have just nominated you for A Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Please feel free to accept or ignore! http://thejellyfisheffect.com/2014/11/27/very-inspiring-blogger-award/
Thank you so much for this honor. I appreciate it, and I’m thrilled that you enjoy my blog. It might take me a while to fulfill the requirements, but I certainly plan to.
Very best regards,
I would like to take a minute to tell you I am a new blogger. I am just figuring out how to find blogs, blog myself, etc. Yours is the 4th blog I have visited in depth and the most fascinating to me. Perhaps this is because my mother works in the Mental Health, Health and Educational field or perhaps it is your way with words. Either way, I want to thank you for inspiring me to really start blogging and hopefully one day be able to use my experiences to influence others like you have.
I look forward to reading your posts.
Thank you so much, Kaitlyn! You honor me. I’d love to follow your blog and contribute comments when I can. All the best!
An inspiring, touching blog. Keep up your wonderful work – thank you! J x
Thank you so much, James! Very kind of you to say.
My pleasure 🙂 j.
I really enjoy this blog. My son Ethan is 4 and has classic autism along with a syndrome similar to epilepsy. Ethan and my two other children will benefit from what I learn here. Thank you so much! I discovered this site when thinking that Camus’ stranger may have represented someone on the spectrum.
Thank you, Dan. That is wonderful to hear, and one of the reasons I started my blog. I’m glad you found my post about The Stranger! Most of my autism posts are in the 2013 posts, although autism is never far from my thoughts. Thank you for your comment. If you have any thoughts about my other posts, i would love to hear them. All the best to you and your family.
I have a site danmartinpov.wordpress.com with a few of my own thoughts on autism. I will be posting more there in the next few months. I look forward to all of your posts! I have been looking at Van Gogh, Wittgenstein etc. for notable figures in history who were likely on the spectrum. I was hoping to gain more understanding of my son. I then started thinking of fictional characters and that led me to Lt. Cmdr. Data from Star Trek and Camus’ Stranger. Thanks for the thoughtful post!
Yes, Data is a very good example. If you don’t know about Temple Grandin, look her up. She is one of the icons of autism. I read her first book when it came out (Emergence). There is a movie about her. She’s written extensively about autism. She and other high-functioning autistic individuals and people with Asperger’s claim that they see the world the way Data does.
So happy I stumbled upon your blog today. I look foreword to learning a lot from your wisdom💕
I landed on your web page while I was surfing on the internet.
Thanks for the helpful articles.
I liked reading them.
I am running the I.A.C – Inscribink Authors’ Circle. We are a developing website with 10K+ followers on Facebook.
Would you be interested in sharing one of your articles on our website, with as many links as you wish in it?
Or, would you be interested in being one of the writers on our new website project?
Thanks for considering. Let me know if you have any questions.
P.S. (Your article must be not be published before.)
Founder of I.A.C
Thank you. Yes, I am interested.
Hi there again!
Thanks for the prompt reply…
Please check our link for the guest posts below:
If you still have questions, please feel free to contact me.
Inscribink community will be looking forward to read your posts…
Whenever you feel like, you can email me your posts on email@example.com, along with your name/author bio/author photo/social links(Facebook-twitter) to be added in your author info section below the article.
I shall be looking forward to see your posts on Inscribink.com
This is a great blog! Keep up the great work! please Visit http://www.helloworldmagazine.com sometime, too. Thanks!
I admire and empathize with your brotherly love. My brother, a high-functioning Asperger’s kid, killed himself six years ago from all of the bullying he endured in school, and I have been plagued with questions ever since. I’m glad your brother is safe. Autism is an intriguing condition, to say the least.
God, how awful. So sorry for your loss.
Thank you for your kind words. I wish for a world where autism is better understood, and where kids are more compassionate toward each other.
One can only hope.
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Hi, I was came accross your site, and really interested in what you have to say. I too am a sibling of autism. Although I have four younger brothers with verying degrees of it, from severe to borderline aspergers. I however grew up in the 90’s when although it was more understood, there are still things that the medical world doesn’t understand about autism.
I too, didn’t understand why my brothers were “different” or “not normal” growing up, and resented somewhat that I had 4 siblings all of which did not have the capacity to play games, or share secrets with as I saw other families doing. My ideal, was that as my brother they should be the ones to look after me, you know, beat up my boyfriends that turned out to be rotten or something like that.
But now a parent myself and all-grown-up (i think) I understand a lot more and feel almost motherly myself towards them.
It’s never easy being a sibling of autism, and it’s nice to know that there are other people who are in similar situation as it can be a lonely experience, as I am sure it is for the person with autism themselves!
Wow, 4 sibs with autism. That must really have been a lonely experience. In a sense, you were the only sib in your family who was not ‘normal’. Also, I imagine that most of the attention, growing up, went to your brothers. That’s was happened in my family, and I only had one autistic sib.
Thank you for the visits and taking the time to comment. I’m interested in your take on other posts as well.
Wishing you the best,
Thank you, Ritu. You honor me. Congratulations on your awards, couldn’t happen to a nicer gal!
all the best,
Thank you so much Jack! I hope you are well too! 🙂
My son has two step-sons and the younger one is autistic. Their relationship is special and while the older brother loves his autistic little brother, I know his brother’s disability has a profound effect on his emotional development. My son was also, very impacted by his brother’s struggles with mental health. It’s hard. All of it is just hard.
Thanks, Pam. Don’t know if you have seen my earlier posts. They are about dealing with someone who is unreachable ( my brother). It is hard all the way around.
I look forward to reading them. I think we have more than painting in common…
I read your blog with interest, and I look forward to future posts. I have had a great deal of experience with people on the autistic spectrum and I find it fascinating. All my best to you, and all my respect growing and maturing in such a challenging environment. I am a great believer in the value of the sibling – children with special needs can often require a greater amount of parent attention, leaving siblings in the role of child and carer when they need just as much support.
I wonder whether you have come across this man in your time:
Mark is a gentleman with autism who is unable to communicate with speech, so has worked on developing skills in supported typing and now communicates this way. He is really inspirational, with a true zest for life despite being presumed incompetent for so many years. I wonder whether his story may impact on how you see your brother?
PS. I have only just joined the site, so I do apologise if I have made any blogging faux pas!
Hi Becky (or Naomi – not sure which name you would like me to use), Thank you so much for visiting my blog. My early posts are the ones directly related to figuring out my relationship with Mike, my older brother. During that first year of my blog I wrote down most of my feelings of what it was like growing up in a family with one member who required most of the attention. Since that time, it has morphed into a blog of visual communication, that is, an attempt to get what is inside, to the outside. Paul Klee, the artist said once that an artist “makes [life] visible”, which is what I have been trying to do for the past couple of years.
Thank you for the link. No, I have not come across this individual, but will be checking out the blog.
No faux pas… Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
wow, I am really touched by your approach! My sister works as a school-teacher with autistic children and next time we meet we will definatly have a longer talk. Dearest greetings from Vienna, Emmelina
Thank you so much for your kind words. I wrote most of my autism-related posts during the first year of my blog (2013). My artwork is still very much influenced by my connection with autism.
I think its just such a beautiful way of empathy and love. And I like your drawings and idea behind.
I have nominated your blog for the “One Lovely Blog Award”. Thank you so much for creating such a fantastic blog!
You can see the rules at: http://everylifeisamemoir.com/about-claire/awards/one-lovely-blog-award/
Thank you, Claire! I’ll take a look.
I just had the opportunity to look at the post about the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ (I found the original comment in the spam bin for some reason). Thank you so much for this honor! I am so glad you like my blog. I appreciate all your comments.
Hi there, amazing blog! I’ve just nominated you for The Versatile Bloggers Award 🙂 Here is the link if you wish to accept: https://sereneaspergia.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/the-versatile-bloggers-award-2016/
Thank you, Maria. I appreciate your nomination very much! I will look at the link. I am also very interested in exploring your blog. It sounds like you have a lot to say!.
Very best to you too,
Hi Jack, it’s a pleasure. Ditto, I took some time out of blogging a few years ago and started again recently so have lost contact with quite a few people. Would be lovely to stay in touch with posts etc.
All the best,
Indeed, let’s stay in touch!
Thank You for sharing This Wonderful blessing I love you artwork and your style of writing It is a Pleasure to read Thank You.
Thank you. Very kind of you to say.
That is what we are here for helping each other grow and sharing the journey with others me meet along the way,
You are doing an amazing work. I really loved all of them; the paintings, your thoughts and observations. Very few have the power to empathize . Good Luck to you & Keep sharing your work with us 🙂
Thank you very much! I will.
My pleasure 🙂
Just found your blog and starting to read it. How is Michael now? How are you (the middle pumpkin)? And how is the last pumpkin?
We’re all fine in our own elements. Mike is in his group home, I’m keeping busy and my other brother is playing music. Thanks for commenting, Kayla.
I thought I’d leave my email here as well – make sure it’s getting to you! I checked spam and no sign of your emails. Which makes me think I might have given you a misspelled one. Oh dear! Let me try again: firstname.lastname@example.org !!!
No problem. Will resend.
I was a teacher with/for/along side of autistic children…I did a lot of art…and life experience work with them…it was a complicated school…but I throughly enjoyed my students…thanks for sharing this David. Sending joy Hedy ☺️
Thanks, Hedy. I like trying to understand ‘other’ minds. It can be very rewarding, and also frustrating.
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I love your love for your brother Michael xxo
Thank you, Kathy. Mike has surely influenced my life quite a bit.