April is a fantastic month for a variety of reasons, including that it finally feels like spring in Winona. Another reason to look forward to April is the celebration of National Sibling Day. National Sibling Day falls on April 10, so make sure to call your brother or sister if you’re lucky enough to have a sibling. In addition to National Sibling Day, April is also Autism Awareness Month. Autism may not impact you personally, but it’s becoming more prevalent in society. My brother has a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, and he’s also the coolest person I know.

My brother is someone I miss the most when I'm at school.

My brother is someone I miss the most when I’m at school.

My brother was diagnosed with asperger’s before he entered kindergarten. He struggles with socializing including giving eye contact. However, he also knows how to intelligently debate about politics, religion and social rights. He may use filler words frequently, but he has the biggest heart. My brother is so much more than the disorder he has been diagnosed with. When my brother is stressed sometimes he can get angry and blame himself. He also happens to know every rule in every board game we have ever played. He’s the Snoopy to my Woodstock and he’s someone who has taught me a lot about maintaining friendships.

Christmas is a great time to catch up with my brother.

Christmas is a great time to catch up with my brother.

The biggest lesson I have learned with my brother is patience. My brother can aggravate me sometimes like any other sibling, but I have to realize that he has his own struggles. He can be unorganized at times and sometimes he forgets things that you tell him. Patience allows me to be the best sister I can be, but also to help him when he needs it. I have also realized tolerance goes a long way. I have witnessed bullying first hand to kids with Aspergers and it’s terrible. Tolerance and having a non judgemental attitude is crucial for interacting with someone that falls on the autism spectrum. The stereotypes of autisitic kids as stupid or mentally ill are old and inaccurate. Also, banishing that infamous R word that I won’t mention because I don’t want to say it is really important. I’m sure all of you know what this word is and please don’t use it. It’s incredibly offensive and it shouldn’t be used in daily speech. Patience, tolerance and banishing the R word are necessary when interacting socially with someone on the autism spectrum.

So don’t forget about National Sibling Day! Take a break from studying at the library and snap, call or text your sibling. They will surely appreciate it, because it’s great to have someone who will stick by your side throughout your college experience. Also, take this time to become aware of the people around you. Autism is something we should all be aware of, because autistic kids are the sweetest people I know. They will brighten your day and teach you a thing or two about living and enjoying life.

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Mariah Kaercher

Mariah graduated in 2017 with a BS in Exercise Science and a Nutrition minor. She is from Plymouth, MN and her hobbies include reading comic books, gaming on her Xbox 360 and playing with cats.