Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 6:35 pm | A Few Clouds 67º


Louise Palanker: HIV Positive Condition, Feeling Desperate, Living with a Brother with Autism

Question from Laura

Soooooooooooo I’m in a relationship and I’ve known him since kindergarten, and I reeeeeally like him. But one issue. His dad is HIV positive.

Now I did a little bit of research but I don’t really know much about HIV. I have no idea if he’s medicated or if my boyfriend already has it or if there’s a chance that I could get it from his dad. But I can’t really ask them these things because it’s a pretty sensitive subject.

Plus my mom is debating whether to let me date him at all because she watched her cousin die from AIDS. I don’t blame her though. I’m only 15 and it’s a legitimate concern. I just don’t want to play Russian roulette with something so serious.

Educate me/help me?


OK, will do. You CAN NOT get HIV from his dad. There is zero percent chance of that happening. HIV is transmitted through blood, breast milk, needles or sexual contact. That is it. Unless his dad and you have open wounds that are bleeding into each other, you will not be exposed to HIV.

If you want to know whether this kid is HIV positive you can say, “Tell me about your dad. This must be hard for you.” This boy would not be HIV positive from being around his father. He would only be HIV positive if his mother were also HIV positive and passed that to him while he was in her womb or breast feeding.

Be a good friend. Listen. That is how you will learn.

(Body & Soul Charity video)

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Question from Joey

I am in this situation. I am lonely and I am desperate. I try to do my best to be nice to girls but they all just reject me. I know this girl who likes me. I have asked her out but she said no, but I know she likes me. I KNOW! It’s so hard getting rejected. I really need someone to talk to about this.


You do have to hear what people say to you. She said no. Be a friend to this girl and continue being nice and kind to other girls. Open up conversations. Do this with no specific agenda revealing itself too quickly.

I know you would like to go out with a girl but your desperation may be showing. You and ALL PEOPLE wish to love and be loved. This is human. This is being alive. You deserve it and you will have it. But romantic love is very precious and rare. It requires patience and respect.

If this girl really does like you, then that will reveal itself in time. She will be intrigued if you back away and pay her less attention. This will also give you an opportunity to focus your energy elsewhere and perhaps find a love that you have been ignoring.

Here is another tip: When you talk to girls, make it your primary goal to brighten their day. Say something nice. BUT be a gentleman. Do not mention body parts. Do not use the words “hot” or “sexy.” A girl will hear a compliment like this as if you are saying, “I am not interested in you the person. I am only focused on your body.” Don’t say, “Your legs look hot.” Say, “You look pretty.” or “I like your smile.”

I know that being rejected feels just horrible. But bear in mind that this happens to all of us. Finding love is a precise and exact pursuit.

You are not meant to be the romantic partner of just any girl who may walk by. Be willing to begin as just friends. Talk. Ask questions about the girl’s interests, opinions and feelings. Show who you are above and beyond romance. You will only date or be married to one girl at a time. You will know and have important and meaningful friendships with many girls. Be more discerning about the girl that YOU would like to date. Watch. Listen. Wait. Be a warm and comfortable friend. Love grows in soil that feels like home.

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Question from Jacob

My brother has a severe case of autism and is 7 years old. I’m 16 and we have to share a room because the house we are currently living in has only two bedrooms. I have no privacy, no alone time, let alone peace and quiet.

I hate to sound horrible but I can’t take him anymore. My mom treats him like this prize, her “perfect little boy” and he never gets in trouble or gets punished for anything he does wrong deliberately. He can’t stand me, which just makes it worse. I’m always nice to him but he just walks all over me. I get no respect from him at all. He treats me horribly and he provokes me for fun.

Lately I’ve been getting so angry with him I start swearing a lot and end up shaking after an argument with him. I’m really lost and talking with a professional isn’t going to make him go away or change him. It’s not worth all the money ... I can’t face it anymore. What should I do?


Here is a definition of autism from Google


noun: a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and understanding or applying abstract concepts.

You are arguing with a person who is a) 7 years old and b) autistic. You are not going to “win” because he is not able to relate to you or to what you are saying or feeling. He is not able to grasp empathy.

He does not understand the concept of respect or why you deserve it. He simply wants what he wants. He may want your attention and making you angry is one way to get it. Therefore your outrage is harmful to yourself and it is nonproductive. Give him only positive attention. Being resentful that he “gets away with it” is also negative energy that only serves to hurt you.

Siblings may often form a false equivalency concept regarding themselves and their brothers or sisters. Kids place themselves on equal footing with a brother or sister. They measure how they are treated against how their sibling is treated. That’s not fair because life isn’t fair.

You and your brother are different people at different ages and with different personalities and needs. You will not be treated the same by your parents. Stop expecting to be. Your mother doesn’t punish your brother because she understands that he is not being willfully naughty. His meltdowns and outbursts are a part of his autism and they need to be handled as such.

Don’t argue with your brother. Don’t attempt to reason with him. Just walk away and find a corner of the house where you can be yourself and do your thing. Ask your parents how you can achieve more privacy and more autonomy. DO SEE A THERAPIST. I know you feel that the therapist won’t make your brother go away. That’s good. A therapist who would make your brother disappear is called a criminal. A good, law abiding therapist will help you better manage your expectations.

What tends to make us most angry in life is believing that one thing should happen and then having another thing happen. As long as you expect your brother to behave like someone without autism, you will be upset and hurt. He is who he is. Relate to him with that complete understanding.

Talk to your mother privately about potential solutions. Can you create a room for yourself in the garage or in the basement? What else can you all do to make your life easier? The answer is out there.

Here is more about siblings with autism:

(CBS video)

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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals Network, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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