My Stepmother told me a few years ago that she had always felt I was like an only child. My younger sister, by three years, has been variously diagnosed over the years with Autism, Dyspraxia, moderate learning difficulties. And it seems professionals still struggle to label her to their satisfaction, as if she is a static and definable being. To me she is my sister, my Becky.
My Stepmother joined our family with hers when I was 11 years old, and Becky nearly 8 was already becoming less blended in with her peers and more socially isolated in her mainstream school. I can see how my Stepmother might have come to this conclusion, but what she hadn't seen were the 7 years previous that Becky and I had spent bonded together. Our days were filled with making mud pies, looking after our pets, building dens and playing schools - where I taught her to be the best speller in her class. I suppose what set our sibling relationship apart from others was the absence of sibling rivalry, there was jealousy on my part, and frustration on hers, but that fiercely competitive element was absent.
One summer day, about 10 years ago, I went to visit my parents for a weekend and Becky came over for the day. I wanted to make something with her, but she was adamant that she was useless at making things, as she has got older she has become more stubbornly defeatist.
So I took out three long pieces of mirror, and with much encouragement she taped them together, sequins went into a clear plastic bag taped to one end, and the other closed with a triangle of card with a small central hole. We decorated the outside with card, stickers and pens, at this point she was getting bored, but I told her to hold it up to the sky and look through the hole, and to close one of her eyes, impossible, so I covered her still wide opened right eye. I saw a smile slowly form on her face as she realized what she had made and I smiled, as together we shared the same view of the world for a while.