A Sibling's Perspective

Bernie Callanan

Thursday, 18 October 2018

This is a story about 2 students who have autism.

One has an Instagram account with over 37 thousand followers, including Danny Dyer and Tamzin Outhwaite from EastEnders. He 'live streams' after every EastEnders episode, has his own YouTube channel and makes himself a bowl of pasta most evenings. He hopes to become a chef.

The other did not speak to students or staff in school for years. He stood outside the dining hall every morning, break and lunch for all of key stage 3. 
He didn't share his interests with anyone at school. His nerves prevented him from using initiative and subsequently, he made minimal academic progress.

When he had worries, he would hold them in and his anxiety would continue until he got home.

Now I'm going to tell you about the girl who brought these two students together. She is their twin. Before April this year, she was the twin of a brother who is loud, sociable and charismatic at home. Whilst at school she was the twin of a brother who was quiet, withdrawn and nervous.

As part of Schools' Autism Awareness Week, we asked her to tell us what this was like.

pensive young boy

Her brother watched the film, he understood her perspective and empathised with the frustrations, worries and hopes she shared. Since then he's attended chef school, a cooking club and made new friends. He now speaks in class and takes initiative where he didn't previously.

Most notably, he offered to get involved in his sister's film. This was shared in the year group assembly. For 99% of the room, it was the first time they had heard him speak.

He is the same boy, his autism hasn't gone anywhere, he just knows now that when his anxieties restrict him, it affects other people too. Hearing what his sister had to say about his condition gave him the strength and drive which was previously lacking.

She was both honest and encouraging in emphasising his ability to overcome the anxieties. Subsequently, his personality at home has started to merge with his personality at school and it's glorious!


About our Community Expert


Bernie Callanan


Over 10 years of SEN experience in a number of settings. Developed whole-school approaches to ensure students with SEN are catered with the support they need.

Placing the student with SEN at the heart of all decisions made regarding their education, whilst liaising with all stakeholders involved.

Bernie is our education expert who provides SEN related content.

Opogo is a community platform designed to help schools attract and retain the talent that’s right for them. Our social hub is packed with rich content from our community experts. And through our ever-evolving Smart Match technology, teachers can be booked for work simply and quickly.

Sign up for FREE