Growing Up with Mark: Living with PDD-NOS
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Autism Spectrum Disorder, as a growing disability category in past years, has received a great deal of attention, in particular, for the classic autism disorder that most individuals have become so familiar with. However, it is rare that we hear about other disabilities that fall under the autism spectrum, such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS. Growing up with a sibling with this condition has been an impacting experience riddled with obstacles for every member of my family. However, it is through these experiences that I have grown and have developed to become the person that I am today. It is with this personal understanding and sincere interest in the disability that I elected to embark upon the task of creating a memoir surrounding the circumstances under which my brother grew up with his disability. For the sake of creating a paper that would best capture the multiple perspectives of various members of my family, I elected to interview the various members of my family in order to create vignettes that best represented their perceptions of Mark. Each memory varies in length, from a sentence or two, to a full page. These memories are intended to capture the essence of Mark’s childhood and elementary school years. I hoped that through these memories, readers would be able to understand some of the thoughts that my family experienced as Mark grew up, as well as to give them some firsthand insight into the events that occurred during our lives over the years. I felt that through seeing how a family copes with a disability - going through the grieving process, struggling with the challenges posed, and celebrating the accomplishments – that the readers might get a more complete picture of how life can be impacted so profoundly by one such event. It is difficult to get perspective into such a difficult situation until one has lived through such an experience, and this is something I hoped could be shared through this memoir. In order to give these vignettes more perspective, however, I realized that I could not simply list the vignettes one after another in written form. As a result, I elected to analyze each vignette from my own perspective. Therefore, each memory in italicized font is followed by my own analysis and additional relevant memories I have added to contextualize each described instance. In doing this, I hoped to not only provide more background on my family’s situation, but also to add some additional information on what might be expected of other families coping with a similar situation. Through the format of a memoir centered around snapshots of Mark’s childhood, I hoped to make the delivery of this impacting experience as personal and relevant as possible to the readers, helping them to see the meaningful nature that is experienced by so many families who are impacted by the diagnosis of a disability.