My name is Xavier, and I am a young caregiver.

I’m caring for my brother who is 12. He has autism and is almost nonverbal.

His brain hasn’t developed as other kids his age and is mentally much younger than his actual age. For example, I have to help watch him, so he doesn’t run away as his mind doesn’t understand boundaries. When he’s upset, I will sit down with him and calm him down. I will try to do stuff that I know he loves like watching TV, playing in the dirt or planning a trip to the pool. Since he is almost non-verbal it’s sometimes hard to know what he wants and then he melts down. That is very hard.

It used to be more frustrating, annoying and embarrassing than I find it now. Now I understand a bit better why he does certain things and I’ve just accepted that this is who he is. Now I think it’s really fun hanging out with him and just seeing how he sees the world. It’s a cool change to be around someone who is much different than everyone else you meet. My brother has also taught me not to judge other people just by what you see on the outside.

But sometimes I still feel sad for him. Especially when he’s going through tough times.

I used to go to Powerhouse much more than now. I used it as an escape from home. It was a place for me to go out and be with friends who would understand what I go through at home. But I would also feel bad that I needed to get away to get a break.

Powerhouse helped me find ways that work for me to accept the hard feelings and difficult situations. I don’t need to go as much now as I have found ways to accept his and my situation.

“I would have been a much different person without Powerhouse.”

– Xavier, 13 Years Old, Caring for his brother