Getting married when a sibling has autism

I think, until less than a year back, I wasn’t sure (because of many reasons) whether I would ever get married.

Karan’s autism is such that it is unlikely he will ever lead what is considered a full, normal life and will need to be cared for, for the rest of his life. My mother and I are not interested or will even consider sending him to a residential care centre; it’s completely out of the question. Karan stays with family. So when it becomes impossible for my mother to take care of him, it is up to me – as his one and only sibling – to be his parent. I admit, even though right now I’m not his regular caregiver, I feel like I have my first child already.

It’s not a responsibility I grudge. I’d considered a long time ago whether I would marry because that would mean finding a man who was comfortable and accepting of Karan. I had heard enough horror stories about this: a woman my family knew had a tough time finding suitors because every time the nugget of information came up that her sibling had special needs, the parents of the man swooshed in and shook their heads. No doubt the prospective suitors were conspirators in their refusal too, but I think some men can be amenable to the situation while older generations who are comfortably ensconced in their disgusting belief that “special needs” is a dirty phrase step in.

Here’s the thing: I understand fully well the implications of marrying into a family that has special needs. But then again, I could reject you for having cancer in your family, you for having heart problems floating in the fringes, you for arthritis and you because of diabetes. When it comes to rejecting a proposal, there are a million reasons to say no.

And yes, if a man cannot accept my brother, it’s a deal-breaker. I’d rather live alone caring for Karan than live with someone who spurns him, thank you very much.

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6 thoughts on “Getting married when a sibling has autism

  1. since when did companionship become burden-free; if the partner is not compassionate to understand responsibilities; then loss of that person.. meaning that the responsibility of a sibling is not just her/his grand parents/parents.. but also their sibling, especially one that knows love only through their limited activities. – I loved the point of cancer, arthritis, Diabetes… simple and accurate. – FYI, it may not the same but similar situation, My uncle has been taking care of his youngest brother(who is also my uncle) since he was 25; the youngest one; he suffered from typhoid fever and became comatose following which he had brain damage; to this day he is still a child in a grown man’s body; My uncle took care of him, bought him to the US, till this summer he stayed and grew up with them… but since my uncle became sick… it has been difficult to take care of the younger one… they HAD to send him to a facility.. just to leave you with that thought..

  2. I really admire the maturity and practicality with which you deal with your brother’s situation. Generally in our culture, people shy away from talking about family members with special needs so it’s great to see that you and your mom have the courage to be so vocal about Karan. He’s a very lucky boy to have you as family.And trust me, any guy worth making a lifetime commitment to will be able to appreciate how having Karan as your brother has added value to you as an individual. All brothers like to see their sisters paired with decent men so think of this as Karan’s way of making sure you marry someone truly special.

  3. Bobin, thanks for leaving a comment. Yes, I know there’s the thought that one day you might have no choice but to send your loved one away…guess I’m just hoping to avoid that!

  4. @Maria1110 Thank you. Yeah, I’ve come across families who try hiding it under a rock. I’m glad Karan doesn’t have to live that way. Haha and yup, I’m aware that Karan repels the evil men away, for which I’m super glad.

  5. I know this is a old post but I appreciate your thoughts. Absolutely true and valid theory for the other diseases. I like the way you discuss this in a straight-fashioned way. The problem arises in not accepting the scenario. Karan is lucky to have you and your mother who stand by him and so are you for Karan in your life. I am sad that some folks around me just fail to accept & appreciate. Sorry for the rant!

  6. Madhavi – The only way to discuss special needs, I feel, is by being honest. I do try being as straight with the issue as possible. Glad you had a chance to read this. No worries about the rant… I rant here a lot if you notice 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

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