Match in the gas tank: my autistic foster brother

I dreaded every second weekend. That’s when James would come to stay.

When you live with a kid with autism, there is no such thing as privacy. This was a big problem for me, who needed it to function. I closed myself in my room and hated any intrusion. I loved my toys, would get involved in my playtime therapy, but nobody could witness it.

But James would often open the door to say hi and catch me in the act.

He and his younger brother – who lived at Amber’s and her mother’s shed across the paddock – once sneaked in and stole my favourite toy and former imaginary friend, Buzz Lightyear.

And burned his head on the stove.

When I complained to my foster mother, she said;

Boromir meme

Ignore the meme.

She really said “well, you should have hidden anything you didn’t want him touching.”

I felt she always defended his actions, had no patience for my frustrations, believed being upset at what he did was my fault.

Hazel called me a “green eyed monster”, and that was true to a point. Everyone treated him a lot nicer, so of course I would be jealous.

My father figure, Baz, who lived on the property, barely had patience or time for me when James was around. Baz had no use for a lazy introvert while his little disciple followed him everywhere.

James loved the outdoors, loved the chainsaws and playing with the machinery.


Gilbert Grape meme

Hazel reckoned James liked me.

He certainly did not.

Although I never hit James with a fist, I would flick him in the ear painfully, over and over, when he annoyed me.

He would be upset about it, but he could never tell anybody about it since the only coherent words he really knew were “s–t” and “f–k you”, which he told me to do quite a lot.

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