Elliot who’s 17, cares for his brother who has Autism
When did you become a carer?
I have been a carer from birth I guess, my older brother has Autism and, obviously, has had Autism since birth. So, I’ve always been a career in a sense. I found out about action for carers when I was about 8 or 9, I can’t remember whether my mum found out about it or if they came to my school, but it was definitely one of the two, and continued to be active in the young carer space until I was around 14-15 where I just kind of fizzled out of it.
As previously mentioned, I care for my older brother who has Autism. He isn’t extremely high on the spectrum however it does affect his, and my, daily life. Honestly, he just needed me to be his friend and not his brother – although that relationship always was and will always be there. When I was younger most of my caring was me just staying out of the house and staying quiet – as well as being his friend when he would struggle to make them and help – or at least try to help – when things got too much.
I would say that the hardest part of my caring role is and was just being the weird kid, I grew up in a space where what was considered normal to others was the weirdest things imaginable – other kids would talk about how they got all these cool toys and stuff while I would not play with the ones I got because I felt they made too much noise and would upset my brother. I like to say I was born an outcast – which while it sounds completely oh “woe is me”, it’s what I’ve come to accept. And Surrey Young Carers helped me reach that realisation, I met so many people in situations like mine and even one of my closest friends through young carers.
What are some good things about being a carer?
Don’t get me wrong there are good things about being a carer as well, I find that because of my different circumstance and upbringing I have different skills that most kids growing up didn’t have, for one I’ve always been very adaptive and able to change with the circumstances which I can attribute to the need to constantly be prepared to make my brother as comfortable and happy as possible.
What is your advice for other carers?
In closing, I just want to remind everyone – carer or not – to keep going. Life can be hard and let’s be honest a lot of the time it isn’t the best, but if you stop now there’s no telling what you’re missing.
I almost gave up so many times, when I was being bullied for being a carer I wanted to run away from home and live out of my sleeping bag. But I didn’t, mainly because I was scared of the dark, but also because something kept me going. It took me 16 years to understand who I am and to find my group of friends who love and help me, and I am sure that that wouldn’t have been possible if I never found young carers or gave up when the going got tough.