‘Awesomely unique’: 11-year-old writes book on his younger brother’s journey with autism

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A perspective from a brother’s lens of what it’s like to have a loved one with autism.

An 11-year-old from Union County wrote and published a book about his younger brother.

“Hi, I’m David ... this is my little brother, Vance,” the book reads. “Vance has autism this makes my little brother awesomely unique.”

The bond between Vance and David “DJ” Leake is strong, but building that bond wasn’t easy for these two boys and it often left DJ wondering why.

“Why can’t Vance play? Why can’t he speak like I can speak? I was like six or seven at the time,” DJ told Channel 9′s Almiya White. “Once I grew older, my mom told me why Vance couldn’t play or why Vance couldn’t speak like me.”

“We discovered that he had autism,” said Tempest Leake, the boys’ mother.

Tempest said the diagnosis pushed DJ to understand the challenges facing his younger brother.

“DJ wants to protect his brother, so he doesn’t want anyone looking at him differently or picking on him,” she said.

Amid this protection came education and finding an outlet to explain to others how to best be there for a sibling who is different from you.

The young man decided to write a book: The Awesome Adventures of Awe-tism with DJ and Vance.

“DJ has always been into like art, writing, and he actually came to me with the idea of trying to put something together,” Tempest said.

The story is often told from the parent’s perspective, but hardly from the eyes of a sibling.

“The book is about me and Vance’s experience with his autism,” DJ said. “Learning patience with his autism to also spread autism awareness around.”

Vance doesn’t consider autism a disability. Instead, he calls it his superpowers.

“Knowing that he has his own superpower, that he gets a understanding of the autism that he has, using the autism for his special superpower,” DJ said.

DJ’s book is on sale now. He plans to donate 10% of all sales to the Autism Society in Mecklenburg County and ARC of Union County.

(WATCH BELOW: Autism Fitness hosts exercise workshop in south Charlotte)

Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV