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Nina Stephens

Nina Stephens shares her experience of having an autistic brother.

Sterling Greback

Nina Stephens shares her experience of having an autistic brother.

Kendra Washington, Guest Writer

The sound of broken glass rang throughout the Stephens home. Freshman Nina Stephens’ heart started racing as she ran to her autistic little brother. A small pool of blood started to form, and he screamed at the top of his lungs as he saw his cuts.

Stephens has been learning and growing with her little brother since he was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD as a nine-year-old in 2013. Growing up has been different for Nina and Justin Stephens because of his disorder. While Autism is a development disorder, it only affects the brain’s social and communication skills.

“It kills me for him to not understand when kids taunt him, or for him to take something wrong when a kid’s being perfectly nice to him,” Stephens said. “I swear that kid has a higher IQ than me. He just lacks common sense, I think.”

Autism also makes the heightens the senses, so seeing things as such as fireworks or cuts on their own body can make someone with it horribly upset. When something like getting cut by glass happens, as it did for Justin, it can go from an intermediate problem to a huge disaster. Justin was running around with a glass tool for watering plants when he dropped it. It shattered everywhere and shredded through the flesh on his hand. A few days after the accident, he had to be taken to the emergency room due to increased pain.

“He doesn’t handle pain very well, and I find it so hard to see him in it,” Stephens said.

The doctor ended up having to put a foot long needle in Justin’s hands. Stephens and her friend Shay had to hold Justin down so the doctor could do it.

“He was screaming and crying,” Stephens said. “It hurt me so bad to see my little brother like that.”

Because Justin wasn’t diagnosed at a young age like most children, he bears a bad reputation at his school with the other kids.

“I’m so scared to leave him when I graduate in the next couple of years,” Stephens said. “I think his disorder makes us closer. He doesn’t have a lot of friends, and he doesn’t adjust to change well, but he trusts me.”

Autism can make children especially angered or agitated. You have to watch what you say and how you say it, says Stephens. Something as simple as asking them to pick something up with the wrong tone can start a problem.

“I do love him very much, and him having Autism makes him even more cool, and it makes me love him more,” Stephens said. “Him having special needs impacts both of our lives and while it’s hard, we’re growing together, and I’m really excited to see the future for him and how he progresses.”

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