Spencer’s Brother: Hunter Nisonoff

Hunter Nisonoff with brother Spencer and TylerWinner:  7th to 9th Grade 12 years Old Emerson Jr./Sr. High School My name is Hunter Nisonoff and my younger brother Spencer is diagnosed with autism. Tyler, my twin and I enjoy our time playing with Spencer and taking him places.  When we are with him we don’t think about his autism.  We just think he is our little brother.  Most of our friends don’t even remember that Spencer has autism because he acts like many kids his age.  We are very fortunate that Spencer has made great progress. Spencer is seven and a half years old.  He is currently enrolled in the Valley Program and goes to a school in Harrington Park.  He is not yet mainstreamed, but we hope he will be soon.  Spencer enjoys almost any sport he can play, video games, and playing with us. He is a great kid and an awesome brother.  His favorite T.V. show is “Deal or No Deal” on NBC.   Our whole family is very involved with autism.  Tyler and I have made friends with siblings with autism.  We also contribute and walk for Autism at Giant Stadium.  We do not think of autism as a bad thing in our family.  We think of it as something that has made all of us better people. Having a brother with autism is special because we have gained many values that not a lot of people understand.  I get to meet a lot of special kids with autism and amazing teachers who help kids who have autism.  My brother and I learned many ways to help when kids who have autism are having a hard time.  My parents know a lot about autism and try to teach me as much as they can.  I am glad that I have been given opportunities that other people never get to experience. My relationship is different with Spencer than it is with my twin because Spencer needs my help.  Also he looks up to me, so sometimes I have to think a little before I go and do something.  Spencer has made me a better person because of our relationship and because there are so many great things about him that make me smile every time I see him.  I am also quick to help other kids with special needs because of Spencer.  All of our differences are very beneficial.  I don’t know who I would be without Spencer.  That is why these differences are special.          Aleta and PatrickWinner:  4th to 6th Grade 11 years old St. Matthew School, Edison, NJ In the first Harry Potter book, there is a magical object called the Mirror of Erised.  Instead of showing your reflection, it shows you what your heart desires.   Harry spends a lot of time looking in it to watch his parents.     If I could look into the Mirror of Erised, this is what I might see.   My seven-year-old brother Patrick doesn’t have autism.   Our family goes to Disney World.   He doesn’t embarrass me in front of my friends.  He doesn’t mess up my things.  We move the furniture the way we want to. We go to the same school.  No more Barney videos!  He plays basketball with me.  I’m the greatest basketball star, and – whoops!  That doesn’t have to do with autism.    Harry Potter learns that it’s no good to waste time wishing things would come true, instead of actually trying to achieve them.    When I think more about it,  some of those wishes are possible if my mom and dad and I all work hard enough to help him. If there were a cure for autism, I don’t think I would want him to be cured.  If Patrick didn’t have autism, he wouldn’t be as cute as he is.  He wouldn’t cuddle up to me or play our special little games.  He would be a typical, annoying, bratty little brother.   He wouldn’t let me teach him things.  Also, my mom probably would have gone back to work and I would probably have to go to After Care.  My dad would probably coach Patrick’s sports team instead of mine.   If Patrick never had autism, I probably wouldn’t know what it’s like if someone really has a mental disability.  Too many people abuse the word “retard” and it makes me sort of upset because they don’t know what it’s like.  They use it too lightly.  Luckily my friends don’t use that word or laugh at my brother when he does something silly.  They think he’s cute too.   Sometimes I feel like he sort of understands me and I understand him when he looks at me in a certain way without words.  It’s special for a moment, nobody says anything, but then he looks away and the spell is broken.   One time, he arranged his toys all over the floor.  Someone else might just see a mess, but I saw constellations, the Big and Little Dipper. Sometimes I’m the only one who understands what he is saying or singing.  Once, he kept saying “Lilly-bu” and my mom didn’t get it.  She asked “do you want a little boot?  … the Lily book?  Little Pooh bear?” .  He came to me and said “Lilly-bu?”  and  I just said, “Yes, Patrick, I love you too.”