Two Wellington brothers explain how autism affects their relationship

WELLINGTON, Fla - "Don't pinch me, do not, yow, that hurts," 10-year-old Max Winter tells his 7-year-old brother Sam as they play together in their Wellington house.

Like other brothers, they can get on each others nerves.  But there's another factor in their relationship:  Max is on the autism spectrum.

"Sometimes it's hard for someone to have autism," he explains. "It's sometimes, things are difficult for you."

Autism doesn't affect only Max, it also has an impact on Sam and the relationship between the two.

"He doesn't actually know that much; how it's not easy having autism," says Max.

But Sam knows some things about his brother's autism.  He knows he has to be patient.

"He's a nice brother," says Sam, before Max interrupts.

"Mostly, mostly, not always," says Max. "Sometimes I yell at you in my room; remember we discussed that before," asks Max.

"Yes," replies Sam.

Autism has turned the big brother - little brother dynamic around.  Younger brother Sam sometimes has to help Max with reading and other skills.

"Sam's told me before, 'As long as Max tried his best, at least he tried,' so I think he understands that some things are harder for his brother than they are for him," says their mother, Melissa.

She says Max has reached a point where he understands he has autism and doesn't see it as something that's necessarily bad. Rather it's something to live with.  For his brother, it's something he adjusts to in Sam's behavior.

"He screams at me a lot when I try to go in his room," says Sam.

"It's some times annoying when I'm with him a lot," says Max. "I'm sorry Sam but you're my brother and it's not kind of hard for brothers to be mean to each other."

They are open about autism, they talk about it,  but in the end they're two brothers growing up together.

"Max is a good brother," says Sam.

Note: Melissa Winter has established the Puzzling Piece to raise awareness of autism and money for charities. 

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