Should one be responsible for siblings with autism? S’pore TikToker Andreana Tay opens up about caring for her sister

She shares the ups and downs of being a caregiver on social media.

Natalie Teo |
April 18, 2023, 11:57 am

We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.

On Mar. 28, Andreana Tay, 28, uploaded a video to her TikTok account addressing the question, “Should the sibling be the one responsible [for] their siblings with disabilities?”

For context, Andreana has a younger sister, Audrey, who has autism, and she shares videos on social media documenting their daily lives together.

@andreanaanna Hi if you are seeing this, please note that you will not be alone in this journey. I, myself also faces the same situation as you and till date I am still learning to cope with the stress and feelings towards being the one responsible for my autistic sister’s future. – If you have a sibling like me, have a chat with them, share about what you can/ cannot do for your sibling with disability and see if you can help one another instead of pushing it around. This really takes time to understand, which you REALLY need to have the patience for it. – Many people ASSUMED that I got it all covered and I know what I am doing, truth be told I am still figuring out. – Parents plays a huge part in this, and I still stand where I believe that they should be the one responsible for them and it SHOULD be a collaborative effort instead of “YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE taking care of them” in the future. – What are your thoughts? #autismsg #autismawareness #autisticsibling #autisticwomen #autistictiktok #vlogs2023 ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

In her video, Andreana opened up about her decision to take care of her sister in the future.

She shared that she had another sibling, a brother, who was able to share the responsibility, and that caring for Audrey would be a “collaborative effort”.

However, Andreana went on to say that she believed that parents should be responsible for their child, “instead of their siblings being the one responsible.”

“I didn’t choose to be born, you guys decide[d] to give birth to me, and this is something that… a lot of people or a lot parents don’t… understand. I feel that we [are] actually viewed as [an] investment plan so that in the future if they’re old we are the ones supposed to be responsible for them.”

Her sister is a priority

Andreana, who is a social media marketing manager, previously shared with CNA that having Audrey as a lifelong responsibility meant that other aspects of her life, such as romance, would have to take a backseat.

One date had even told her: “I can see a future with you, but I can’t see one with you and your sister.”

As a preteen, she said, she spent most of her time taking care of her siblings, as her parents were busy running a 24-hour eatery.

During secondary school, her family hired a helper to take over caregiving duties, freeing Andreana up to focus on her studies and other interests.

However, after she graduated and joined the Navy, she noticed a growing distance between herself and Audrey, and decided that she needed to “get to know her better”.

She also revealed that she felt ill-equipped to care for her sister financially, and was also unable to purchase critical illness and hospital insurance for Audrey.

Both Audrey and her helper, Kakak, make regular appearances in Andreana’s videos.

@andreanaanna Hi Jollibee, if you managed to see this, Audrey, Kakak & I lovesssssssssss it. MY SISTER LITERALLY DRINK THE CHICKEN GRAVY AS SOUP 🥺😫😫😫 thats how much she loves it. #autismsg #tattoogirlsoftiktok #autismawareness #autisticsibling #autisticwomen ♬ Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 – PinkPantheress & Ice Spice

How it began

In a video that has now amassed 8.9 million views, Audrey was seen making sounds and hand gestures as an indication that she wanted to try some of her sister’s food.

@andreanaanna Should I do a series on how she communicate? Hahah, she is just too cute I cannot even. #autisticsiblings #autisticteenager ♬ Face Dance – Funny Tok

The reaction to the video was overwhelmingly positive, and this inspired her to continue posting more about their daily lives.

A look at Andreana’s TikTok feed shows several videos chronicling the siblings’ adventures together, from doing food taste tests to taking baking classes.

Not all a bed of roses

Still, as any caregiver can attest, caring for someone with a disability can sometimes be challenging.

Andreana uses her platform to share about some of the realities of living with an autistic sibling, such as dealing with Audrey’s public meltdowns, which can sometimes get physical.

When these meltdowns happen, Andreana explains, they typically take Audrey home to calm her down before correcting her.

@andreanaanna I’m just glad that the people around us that witness the breakdown didn’t film us or said anything unnecessary which I am very thankful for. Just wanna apologise to those who felt uncomfortable witnessing it 🙏🙏🙏#autismawareness #autism #autismacceptance #autisticwomensg #autismsg #autisticsibling ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

She also once almost lost her sister after Audrey left the house along without telling her, and has had to deal with unempathetic members of the public who are not used to Audrey.

Images via Andreana Tay’s TikTok and Caring SG Commuters/Facebook

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