Having a Sibling with a Disability

So I’ve talked about my brother Evan a lot on my blog and how much he has affected my life, but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk to some other people about their experiences with their siblings.

Gilbert Uriarte is a 19-year-old Linguistics student at Arizona State University, and his 29-year-old brother Johnny is clinically diagnosed as being MOMR (moderately mentally retarded), as well as being hearing and visually impaired.

Gilbert (left) and his older brother Johnny (right).

Gilbert explained that Johnny will sometimes break out in a tantrum if his routine is broken, and that, “If anything I feel like he’s the younger sibling and I look out for him.”

Looking out for Johnny is all Gilbert has ever known, but he said that, “it was harder for other people to understand that he was handicapped,” and that the stares and dirty looks are what really bothers him.

Johnny was born with his disability, so Gilbert has never known any different, but 19-year-old Gilberto Valdes’ experience with his brother has been much different.

Jorge Valdes, Gilberto’s older brother, is a 25-year-old who holds two bachelor’s degrees from New York University. When he returned from New York to his home in Texas, his family noticed that he was acting very different.

After some convincing from the family, Jorge visited the family doctor and then was referred to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with schizophrenia and Aspergers.

“The brother that I grew up with and that I knew is not there anymore,” said Gilberto.

Gilberto said that talking to Jorge is like talking to and adjusting to a new person entirely, because “…his old personality is gone,” but he added that Jorge is still very intelligent.

According to Gilberto, doctors are still uncertain what really caused the change or what will happen with Jorge’s future.

Both Jorge and Johnny have had different pasts and will have different futures, but they both are fortunate enough to have brothers who love and care for them.

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