Erin and Ruby are sisters and dual carers - meaning they care for each other, and also their Mum who has type one diabetes. They have kindly shared their stories with us on what it's like caring for each other, the challenges, and how it brings them closer together.
Read Ruby's story below. Click here to read Erin's story.
My name is Ruby and I’m the younger sister of Erin who is on the autistic spectrum. Specifically, she is diagnosed with Asperger's. I help her with this condition in lots of ways; by taking the lead for her in social situations, recognising when she is anxious and helping keep her calm and happy.
Due to this condition, Erin sometimes feels uncomfortable or nervous in crowded public areas, she can become overwhelmed by the loud noise and large amounts of people. On a few occasions, we have been walking down the high-street and she has become tense around the large groups of people walking by. To try and comfort her, I would often hold her hand (if she lets me) and check on her if she became too quiet.
Erin doesn’t like eye contact and tends to feel nervous if someone is looking at her in the eyes for too long. She has gotten better at it through the years but even still she finds it difficult to keep eye contact for very long. Every now and then, Erin sometimes asks me if she can practice holding eye contact with me. With this, I will start talking to her and she will try and hold eye contact for as long as she can.
As well as eye contact, Erin tends to become uncomfortable when a person that she doesn’t know asks her a question or tries to make small talk. This usually happens in shops so I help her by coming into the shop with her and I help to buy or order things. Sometimes, if the cashier asks something unexpected or unplanned, this tends to confuse or be too much for Erin and she wouldn’t know what to do. By going into the shop with her, I can help her with ordering so that if something unexpected were to occur which would cause Erin distress, I would be able to help with it.
Sometimes, things can get a bit too much for Erin, her stress and anxiety may build up and can cause her to have a meltdown. During this time, when Erin is on the verge or is having a meltdown, she would need both Mum and Dad to help calm her down. When this happens, I know that there is nothing I can do that could help and it’s up to our parents to help her. So, in that time, I would take a step back from the situation and go entertain myself somewhere else until the meltdown was over. Sometimes, the best thing that you can do in certain situations is to take a step back and let other people handle it.
Many children, in this scenario, would want their parents’ attention or try and distract them however this would just make matters worse and put the person who is having a meltdown through more stress. However, the best thing for me to do for Erin is to occupy myself with something else, preferably in a different room.
Erin loves writing stories, especially fiction. She will often talk to me about new story plots and ideas, usually using me as almost like a sounding board to talk things through. Erin will sometimes say that when we are at home, she doesn’t have a problem with Asperger's, the problems arise when other people are put into the mix. My role is to help her with that mix.