Sara Martinez is 17. She's a high school student in New York City. She is well spoken, loves music and acts as a second mother to her 14-year-old brother Diego who has autism.
If you can spare eight minutes, take the time to hear Sara discuss her experiences growing up since her family learned five years ago that Diego has an autism spectrum disorder. You can find the audio story via this web page at National Public Radio, which broadcast it July 24 on "All Things Considered." NPR picked the piece up from WNYC's show, Radio Rookies.
Sara explains that because her family is Mexican-American and her parents don't speak English, she acts as translator for them at school meetings, tutors for Diego doing his homework, interprets his speech for them sometimes, and also serves and a sounding board for her mother who reveals her deepest fears about Diego's well-being.
The short documentary also finds Sara finding some useful support from another sibling of an autistic teenager. "You shouldn't give up having fun, it's important," Kristen says to Sara.
After this chat, Sara says she does try to have more fun, and has begun to find it easier to express her feelings about her brother. "I know I will never have it easy," she says, adding that she understands she might have to care for Diego when he grows up. "But fun is not everything. I've become understanding, patient and so much more."
Sara's younger sister calls her a hero and someone she looks up to.
"I don't think I'm a hero. I'm just a big sister, trying to set an example," Sara adds.