Siblings with autism: How do you ‘splain that?

Your sibling has autism. How do you explain it to your friends?

I’ll never forget the day that my son John, who was 9 at the time, brought a friend from school over to work on a geography project. He was a little nervous, because this friend had not met Matthew.

What if Matthew said or did something embarrassing?

How would he explain autism?

Just as the boys were finishing a snack and starting the project, Matthew got home from school.

“Who are you?” he asked the boy in a close-talking kind of way, “What state were you born in and what airports have you been to?”

Close talker

Close talker


I don’t remember how John handled that one, but I do know that he is now an expert on the topic of explaining autism to his friends. Here is his latest iteration of a great explanation:


Did I mention that John is majoring in Psychology?


How have you or your child discussed autism with their friends?







  1. Thank you Laura and John. John, your video was clear and….more importantly for my grand-daughter (10 yrs old), calm and friendly. Her brother (8 yrs old) is on the spectrum and she does struggle with those awkward – explanations.
    Many thanks, a grateful Nana

  2. He seems like the coolest brother, and for him to be Matthew’s younger brother, Matthew is blessed.

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