My Brother; Living with Autism
Five years ago today, my brother passed away. You can read all about his story here, but this post is about the happy (and hilarious) quirks & memories - somewhere I can look back and remember all of the funny little things Connor used to do, and something I can show Archie when he's older so he can read about the kind of person his Uncle was.
Our life with Connor was very different to a normal life, less so for me than for our Mum & Dad. We had bad times but there were also good times and it was down to Connor's comical ways that we got through it. Even though his autism was severe and he had learning difficulties, his personality always shone through his struggles and we knew him as the Connor who loved Henry the hoover or the Connor who knocked on the wall at night to hear Mum & Dad reply to him before going off to sleep.
This is something I'll undoubtedly add to over the years as I recall the memories, but here's a few of the wonderful quirks my brother had.
Chucking/Discarding of personal items
We had too many incidents to count of Connor disposing of certain items, in one way or another, and not always his own. If we went out for a walk at the park, his shoes would always end up in the lake (amidst fits of giggles) or occasionally we'd discover them stuck in the branches of a tree. He's also been known to throw money out of Dad's van window (mid-journey) causing him to have to turn around to retrieve it. I remember one day my camera went missing and I was sure I left it on the bed. We found it a couple of days later, soaked and unrepairable in the garden where it'd been thrown out of my bedroom window!
One story my Mum loves to tell is about Connor's school days. He used to get picked up in the morning by the school bus and his escort, Theresa, would cheerfully exclaim 'Good Morning, Connor' to which he would reply 'Fuck off'. Not really a morning person, my brother! In fact, he always used to manage to use that phrase at surprisingly convenient times considering he wasn't supposed to understand what it meant..
Connor didn't really understand night & day, if he woke up at night, he'd usually spend the time trudging around the house until he got tired again. Some nights, he would sit in the hallway outside mine and my parents bedrooms switchng the hallway lights on and off ensuring we didn't get much sleep that night either! In fact, for the rest of the time I lived at home after he passed, I used to hear that light switch turning on and off through the night.
Throughout his life, there always things Connor was infatuated with, a part of his autism. For a long time he was obsessed with hoovers and phones, and would collect and line them up regularly. At one point, he had a small alien rucksack and would lovingly refer to it as 'cousin', which we joked was a friend from his own planet. More recently, he used to carry around a huge Disney bag full of pictures, toys and his favourite DVDs which he'd insist on taking everywhere with him.
Mummy, not Donna
Since we can all remember, Connor used to refer to our Mum as Donna, and whenever Mum would say to him 'It's Mummy, not Donna', he'd explode into a fit of giggles.
Things he loved
He used to love music and certain songs we introduced him to. He loved 'Thnks fr th mmrs' by Fall Out Boy and 'My humps' by Black Eyes Peas. Him, Mum and me would sing them as loud as we could on long car journeys and he'd join in. Connor loved climbing, our shed, trees, anything, and his favourite was one at Lydiard Park we'd often visit.
There are hundreds more memories that I need to sift through my brain to remember, but for now, here it is. Connor had alot of friends & family who loved him dearly. If you're reading this, please comment below with any heartwarming stories you have of my brother.