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Autism Siblings: Taking it to the Next Level

Fiona and RonanBy Cathy Jameson

People warned me that the years go by quickly.  Boy, were they right!  Time really is flying by.  I’m reminded of that when Ronan’s big sister checks out a new college.  Fiona’s been checking out colleges for about a year now.  She hasn’t narrowed which course of study she’ll major in yet, but she’s definitely interested in careers in the science and/or medical fields.  With how much her brother has been immersed in all things medical, I’m not surprised that she’d want to pursue that sort of path.  I’m actually very excited about that, especially when I remembered one of my facebook statuses from several years ago.

Let it be known across the land: there is no crying at math today!!! Yay, Fiona for building that confidence.

At that time, Fiona, who always liked school, hit a road block.  She always excelled in Reading, Writing, History, and Science, but she was just not grasping Math concepts.  The more she tried and failed, that road block became a big, fat stop sign.  She wasn’t just not grasping the concepts, she didn’t care to do Math at all.  It was just too hard.  Half-way through middle school, though, she realized that by the time she got to high school, she’d be a year behind where many of her peers were.  She wanted to love Math like she loved other subjects, like Science, but there were more tears than high fives after each lesson.  When she began talking about going into the medical field as a pre-teen, I cautiously reminded Fiona that she might want to reconsider – Math and Science go together.  Did she realize that? 

She did. 

But that wasn’t going to stop her.  That girl, who’s always been one determined kiddo, finally got herself exactly where she wanted to be.  It took a while, but she was able to do that by requesting tutoring, by asking her teachers for help afterschool, and by asking us to enroll her in a self-paced year-long Algebra II class (which she successfully completed in 9 weeks’ time) to catch her up with her peers.  Where is Fiona now?  She’s prepping for and cannot wait to take an AP Calculus class this fall.  

What an accomplishment! 

Last week, while talking to a college admissions counselor, I asked Fiona what sort of questions she was asked.  Now finally able to say she’s “on track” for some pre-Med programs she’s been eyeing, she said she was able to share her goals, dreams, and future career interests with the college rep. 

She added, “Oh, and I talked about Ronan, too.” 

My heart swelled, “You did?  Tell me about it.” 

Fiona started, “Well, it began with me talking about my interests, like volleyball and photography, and then answering some typical interview questions: what are my short-term goals, what are my long-term goals, what are my academic achievements…  Those kinds of questions.”

“And how did Ronan come up?” I asked her.

“Remember you gave me some pointers before I went in, tell them I’m the oldest of five and that I have a brother with autism,” Fiona reminded me.

“Yeah, I’ve read that sharing that sort of information has been helpful for some other autism siblings who are a few years ahead of you,” I told her.

Fiona continued, “I think it helped because I was able to tie in a lot of things, like the goals I have for after college.  I’m thinking medicine, maybe research, too, or something like Neuro-Science.  I’m really interested in that and think working in that field could be something I want to do.  The counselor asked me, ‘Why Science?’, so I told her that my brother has seizures.  He’s had them for a long time and I want to understand better why they happen.  I wonder a lot about them and why they happen all the time.  I want to figure out how to stop them altogether, and I think studying Neuro-Science could help me help him and other kids like him.  I really want those seizures to stop. 

Fiona ended her explanation quite casually.  Meanwhile, I was jumping for joy on the inside.  What a gift to hear that my daughter’s goals include bettering her brother’s life!  

If they take the college route, my kids could study anything.  Drama, Engineering, International Business, or any other major offered.  As adults, I know that they could go anywhere, too.  We know that eventually, their life goals might take them far, far away from us and from Ronan.  But here is Ronan’s older sister thinking about taking a path that still includes him.  I was so comforting in hearing that and knowing that she may be like other autism siblings who’ve gone into careers that stem around their affected siblings’ medical issues.  Who better than someone knee-deep in the trenches to stay close to the subject? 

I can honestly think of no one better. 

Fiona is not going off to college yet.  But she’s thinking very hard about where she wants to go and what she wants to study when she gets there.  Time will tell where she heads and which path she ultimately takes.  For now, I’m cheering for her like I cheered when the crying over Math classes stopped.  Go, girl.  Keep going.  And keep doing what you do best – being that awesome big sister to that amazing little brother of yours!

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism. 



LOVE this! This reminds me of my daughter...she wants to go into neuroscience too...has talked on and off about doing that since 7th grade when she had to do a project about her future...then she said cognitive neuroscience once she looked it up....I said does this have anything to do with Liam? She said, "maybe" and smiled and then shared how she wants to understand more what's going on with him and children with autism...his headaches, his lack of speech, etc etc. She'll be a sophomore in Sept. Warms my heart that our kids care so much about their little brothers (or sisters) that they want to help. Grateful to God that we must be doing something right for them to be thinking this way.💜

Jeannette Bishop

Impressive accomplishments and goals, Fiona! I wish you all the best in determining your next steps into the future and pray it will be a future (in the U.S. as well as the world generally) that values character more than state-controlled and corporate-captured credentials.

Laura Hayes

Hi Cathy,

Our daughter started college in 2010 wanting to be a nurse, and boy, she would have been the nurse you wanted by your bedside in a time of need! However, for those who are unwilling to poison themselves, and their future children, via vaccination, careers in medicine are becoming difficult if not impossible. The nursing schools we contacted would have honored an exemption, but the hospitals in which she would have been required to train in order to graduate from nursing school would not, we were told. Thus, with great sadness, she had to change her career path her sophomore year of college. I would recommend that you and Fiona do some research to find out if pursuing a career in medicine will be possible in today's tyrannical climate. The hope, of course, is that we will change this current tyranny before she begins college...but the jury is still out on that one.

Recently, I was engaged in a lengthy, multi-day conversation with a large group of others regarding, not surprisingly, vaccines...and what the ultimate goal is/should be...which for me is 3-fold: to immediately ban vaccine mandates in all 50 states; to immediately reinstate the full and unfettered rights of individuals and parents to make any and all medical decisions, including vaccination decisions, without government interference, coercion, cost, or penalty; and to immediately repeal the 1986 NCVIA. Subsequent goals of mine would be the immediate distribution of all the money in the VICP to affected individuals and families, and to prosecute to the full extent of the law those involved in the many vaccine crimes against humanity. As part of that discussion, I included the growing list of those in the U.S. who no longer have "choice" when it comes to being vaccinated. Below is that list. AoA readers, please add to it anyone I am missing.

"For a growing number of Americans, there is no choice:
For military personnel, there is no choice.
For those in CA on state financial assistance, there is no choice.
For those in CA whose children are in daycare, there is no choice.
For those in CA whose children are school-aged, one must home school to have choice (and the home school option has been under attack the last 2 sessions of the legislature).
For those who want to go to to a UC university or a CA state college, there is no choice.  This is now true for a growing number of colleges and universities.
For school-aged children in MS and WV, there is no choice (I assume it is the same for those in daycare in those 2 states, but I am not sure).
For a growing number of nurses, nursing students, and medical students, including naturopathic students, there is no choice.
For certain summer camps, there is no choice.
For those in foster care in CA, there is no choice (this is probably true in other states, also).
For those whose work takes them into a growing number of hospitals (including the person who services the elevators), there is no choice.
For a growing number of children needing life-saving surgery, there is no choice.
For a growing number of children caught in custody battles, there is no choice.
For surgical patients who did not know that when they signed the medical release form prior to surgery that included permission to administer "biologics" or "biogenics", code name for vaccines, there is no choice.
For a growing number of elderly adults living in residential placements/homes for the elderly, there is no choice."

My above comment was in response to someone who was in favor of a "pro-choice" stance/strategy, as though all Americans still had choice in the matter. I then added the following:

"Additionally, I would ask you if you are pro-choice for any of the following, which either had flawed and/or improper safety testing, followed by subsequent approval, and/or which harmed/killed many:
Thalidomide for pregnant women
Pintos which exploded upon impact
Listeria-tainted cantaulopes
Vaccines, take your pick"

Cathy, if you find ways for Fiona to pursue medicine minus forced vaccination, please let us know. Thank you :)

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