My parents are grateful I help care for my brother – but I'm just a big sister

Catching my mum, Simone, stifling a yawn, I immediately walked over to my little brother Brody and took his hand.

‘Why don’t we go in the living room and have a dance?’ I suggested. ‘We’ll put on Baby Shark.’

As he nodded with a big beam, I turned to Mum. ‘You have a cup of tea and sit down,’ I said. ‘I’ll play with him for a couple of hours.’

Mum nodded gratefully. She had been at work all week, doing long hours as a nurse, Dad was working early shifts as a delivery driver and Brody – who has autism and never slept for long – had been up since 4am.

It was no wonder she was exhausted, and if I could help out by taking care of my brother, I was more than happy to.

I was nine years old in 2015 when Mum told me she was having another baby, and I was so excited. I’d always loved playing with my dolls, feeding them, giving them baths and putting them to bed.

Plus, lots of my friends at school had little brothers and sisters too, or were having them at around the same time. I couldn’t wait!

And when Mum brought home Brody, he was so cute. I fell in love instantly.

I’d help Mum change his clothes and his nappies and give him his bottle. She always called me a little mother hen, but I just wanted to do as much for him as I could.

As he started to get older, my friends at school started talking about the first words their little brothers or sisters were saying and I started to realise that Brody wasn’t even babbling.

‘I wonder why that is?’ I thought, puzzled.

Mum had also noticed some developmental delays – Brody found it hard to make eye contact and wasn’t interested in other children his own age.

Evie’s mum Simone says:

‘I’m so proud of Evie, she really is a second mum to Brody and she is amazing with him. Having a child with additional needs can be challenging, especially when he doesn’t sleep.

‘I’d never expect Evie to help out but she often does. They’ve spent so much time together, it’s lovely to see how close they are. He has developed so much and I know it’s because of how much time and attention Evie gives him.’

At two years old, he started speech therapy but by the time he started mainstream nursery at the age of three, it was obvious it was something more. Although he loved the attention of the staff, he refused to interact with the other children.

It wasn’t too long after that he was diagnosed with autism. Mum told me straight away, but at the time, I didn’t know what it meant.

To me, Brody was just my younger brother. It was just the two of us, so I didn’t know any different.

Instead, I played with him as I always had, reading to him and singing nursery rhymes. He loved singing and dancing, so we’d put on Ring a Ring O Roses and he’d copy me as I fell to the floor.

When he said his first word at three years old, ‘hiya’, I was so proud of him!

It was only when I got older that I started to become more aware of Brody’s struggles. While he was lively and funny in the house, I’d notice when we were out in crowds, he’d turn shy. I hated seeing him so uncomfortable, so I’d put a new game on his iPad, or give him a chocolate to try and distract him.

And often, just holding his hand would make him feel better.

Like a lot of children with autism, he’d be full of energy, going to bed much later than me and often waking up at 4am or 5am. Luckily, I always sleep right through it but whenever I wake up and see Mum and Dad looking particularly tired, I want to help out.

‘I’ll take Brody in the garden,’ I’ll say. Or, ‘Brody, let’s go in the living room and play a game together’.

Now I’m 15, me and my friends will often arrange to meet up over the weekend, at someone’s house or to go shopping. But I’ll always cancel to stay at home and look after Brody after a particularly bad night.

‘You don’t have to do that,’ Mum will insist. But the thing is, I want to. I adore Brody and spending time with him. I’ve taught my friends all about him and what autism means. He loves it when they come round and play with him.

And I love seeing how he is coming on. He’s six years old now and (after we’ve watched countless videos of rockets!) is now able to count down backwards from 10 and say his own name.

He loves giving us cuddles and kisses. I’ll blow bubbles for him to chase and we’ll play football in the back garden.

He’s even started to become a bit more social with the children in his class, which I’m so proud of.

When Mum told me earlier this year that she’d nominated me for a Child of Wales Young Carer award, after her friend had sent it on to her, I was so pleased. It was lovely that she thought so much of me and what I did with Brody.

But it was also a total surprise. Because I never see myself as Brody’s carer. I’m just his big sister.

The Principality Building Society Child of Wales Awards are taking place on Friday 24th March 2023, recognising the incredible achievements of amazing children and young people from across Wales, whilst raising vital funds for children’s charities Ty Hafan & Hope House Ty Gobaith. For more info, visit

As told to Sarah Whiteley

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