Saturday, May 09, 2009
I'm looking at the picture of this sweet little boy and thinking how it could so easily be my Ciaran. Down by the edge of the water, unaware of the danger, and perfectly happy to be alone. Reagan doesn't prefer his own company. Asperger's kids vary, but Reagan is a kid who wants to be social but doesn't always understand the rules. The body language and unspoken code of kidhood goes right over his head. Ciaran is a different story. Ciaran is perfectly happy on his own. He doesn't seek much at all, other than sensory stimulation (aka jumping on my couch).
Some people may think it's a bad thing to have a large family when you have two kids on the spectrum. After all, kids (especially Autistics) require so much time and attention, they could be short-changed in a family like ours! But, oddly, the opposite has been true.
Ciaran has two older sisters who encourage his participation in play. He has an older brother who gets down on the floor with him and wrestles. And he has a baby brother who does his best to connect with him non-verbally. The other kids make him social. Between Attachment Parenting, which has formed a deep bond between us making it easier for me to connect with him, and siblings who talk to him, play with him, and teach him about social skills, having a big family has been a huge plus for us!
Being part of a big family has been good for Reagan too. While he is a social kid (even if his social skills need work, something they teach him at school in a class for kids with Autism) he has a lot of trouble with understanding how something looks from a different perspective. Having younger siblings who aren't afraid to tell him exactly what they think, has taught him so much. He's learned how to be empathetic, understanding (even if it's challenging), helpful, and kind. And he knows that he has one place where he's safe to be himself and even thought to be "cool" because of it.
So, thankfully, while I watch my children struggle, and know that it's a long road, I do have two boys who are learning how to be with others and who are even affectionate. That's huge.