Happy Birthday to Andrew, my Brother with Autism & the reason why I started Autism Relative

Andrew Okusaga
Andrew, on left, and myself

**This blog post is a special dedication to my Autistic brother, Andrew, on his 24th birthday. He is the reason why the organization, Autism Relative, was created.**

I know I highlighted the purpose of Autism Relative in my very first blog post, but I never went into quite depth about how much this organization means to me. I never fully explained the individual that motivated me each and every day of my life and gave me strength to fight through adversity and create this.

That person is my brother, Andrew.

For 24 years, Andrew may have been a challenge along the way, but has ultimately been the greatest blessing. He has taught me countless things throughout my life, such as to have endless patience, show kindness to others, and most of all: the power of love. Love needs no words; love is about actions more than it is about words.

You may be thinking to yourself: How?

Through him being non-verbal, the type of communication we share is like no other. It`s mostly through gestures, actions, pointing, and the one word answers he manages to spit out here and there.

Now you may be thinking: What about sign language?

Andrew was born with a brachial plexus injury to his right arm. For those who are not sure what that is, it occurs when the nerve root is torn from the spinal cord. It affects the use of his right shoulder all the way down to his hand. There is minor movement in that arm and it`s fixed at the elbow (he is unable to move his forearm passed a 90 degree angle from his biceps). However, he finds the hand useful in other ways, such as holding on to small items and taking part in our mini handshakes.

There were tools in place for him to communicate basic needs, such as a tech speak device and picture aids, but it wouldn’t help in forming conversations. The funny part about this is that I talk to him everyday about everything; from my day-to-day life to what’s happening in the world. He may not be able to respond, and sometimes I’m not quite sure if he’s interpreting and understanding everything I’m saying, but I think he’s actually a great listener. In addition, it’s like he’s my human diary, because whatever I tell him stays locked up somewhere within his mind. It may seem like I’m talking to myself at times (most parents feel that way when speaking to their autistic child), but the way he looks at me while I speak shows pure attentiveness.

The reason me and Andrew are so close is also due to the fact that we’re so close in age; I may not be able to do things and go out with him the way most siblings can, but we still have an unbreakable connection.

I’m unable to write a birthday card for him because he likes to rip papers and he won’t even see value in it, so I thought this platform would be the best place to wish him the greatest birthday.

So Happy 24th Birthday to my brother Andrew! That’s my homie right there. 🤘🏽👏🏽🎉🎉

#birthday #autismawareness #Andrew #autism #family