My brother was born when I was 4, and since that day, my identity has been caregiver, guardian, and sister to a beautiful, intensive-needs, ASD boy. I love him with all my heart.
Frank inspired me to become a Special Ed professional. Although it's my job to empower and advocate for kids with ASD, I have a difficult relationship with autism. The extremely variable feelings that come with it, from "autism is a gift, a different processing system, a blessing" to "Autism is a tragedy, and I wish someone would find a cure."
Me, I would rather the overall message of autism be "people with autism are amazing and capable and talented" rather than "look how much I'm suffering; autism has robbed me of my life," just because I think it is a more pleasant way to live. And of course, I would back my brother's feelings because he is the one affected. But I can't know that. Kids as severe as he is-who knows what they want?
Then again, the really severe kids have caregivers who often have strong feelings. Caregivers of those with severe autism would cure their kids in an instant if they could. Not just for peace of mind, but for the sake of their kids, who struggle so much because of their autism.
Would I trade my brother for a neurotypical kid? Never. Would I take away the things that are making his life painful? Of course. Is autism one of those things? I don't know.
What I know is that I will fight for my brother's health and happiness and quality of life until I die. He is my reason for being who I am. And I wouldn't have it any other way.