Non verbal

My name is Ivona, I am 16 and live in New South Wales. One unique thing about me is that I am a twin.

I have been caring for my brother for as long as I can remember. My brother requires care because he is a nonverbal boy with autism. I have to care for my brother because my parents work from 4 am to 6pm and I am the oldest in the household.

My responsibilities include cooking, cleaning, waking him up in the morning and getting him ready to go to his special needs school. However, I also have to sacrifice weekends out with friends. I look after my brother or days off school to take him to doctors’ appointments if my parents can’t make it because of work.

I also have to keep pretty much a constant eye on him as he has recently been having unpredictable seizures and we don’t know what’s causing them.

A good day caring for my brother looks like a day where we make chocolate chip cookies. A bad day caring for my brother looks like him having a seizure and me usually having to see it and calling an ambulance for him. These can be really scary.

Being away from my brother makes me feel sad and I am usually constantly worrying about him. Being a carer has changed my life because I have had to grow up faster than other people my age and have more responsibilities. I have had to learn to be independent.

Because of my caring role I am unable to get good grades in school or have a social life or get a job. Being a carer has taught me to be independent, to help others and to not judge people with disabilities.

I would like others to realise that it’s not that bad to be a carer. My piece of advice to my fellow young carers is to talk to someone, don’t bottle up your feelings

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