My brother should have been 42 today, and I’m finding his birthday and the upcoming anniversary of his death to be particularly hard this year.

Since my autism diagnosis, and the advice to seek an ADHD assessment, I’ve been somewhat obsessively looking at family on both sides to see where “it” came from. I have several family members with a diagnosis or diagnosis in progress, so getting my “yes it’s autism” report wasn’t exactly a surprise to me in the end, but what has been a surprise is how deep it seems to go. I know I can’t diagnose someone from a collection of familiar habits, especially someone very definitely dead, but the harder I look the more I see.

Why is familial incidence of various neurodiversities relevant? Because I’m certain my brother had undiagnosed ADHD and I can’t help but feel that – had it been recognised, and had he been supported – the “trail of events” that ultimately led to his death might have been avoided.

Mixed feelings… of anger that it was not seen, not even considered; sadness that some of his symptoms were labelled as malicious rather than investigated for underlying causes; annoyance that it’s taken this long for threads to start to unravel to even have this throught process in the first place; guilt that I was able to reach out and seek the support I needed when he wasn’t; fear for my children and what they might have inherited and the additional burden it might place on their lives.

I don’t worry about my diagnosis, I don’t think myself a victim for being autistic – quite the opposite, in some ways – but I desperately wish recognition, support, and understanding were more readily available for myself and for others.

Happy birthday, Bobby. I’m sorry we let you down.