Category Archives: Family

To the Learning Centre, with love

For the past seven years we’ve sent our eldest son off to school every day and hoped for the best. Some mornings, we’ve held our breath and wondered if/when the call from the principal would come. Other times we’ve laughed with tears in our eyes at the things he’s accomplished easily – things that we thought would be hard, or even impossible.

IMG_3774

He is ready for middle school, but am I?

We’ve worked with new teachers every year and several new principals, but through it all the Learning Centre in our neighbourhood school has been a place of refuge, understanding, and true partnership.

Today is the last full day of school and I’m overcome with emotion at the thought of saying good-bye to the people who’ve helped my husband and I raise our son from a small boy into a young man. Our Learning Centre teacher has been a constant source of ideas and inspiration, our colleague and co-conspirator, a steady hand in the sometimes stormy seas of elementary school. Our son is ready for middle school because of her.

Like us, the Learning Centre has been there for our son every day. Like us, the teachers in that centre have asked a lot of him. They’ve expected him to try and try again. Like us, they’ve loved him, cheered for him, thrown their hands up in the air at times, and then used those same hands to hug him or cajole him or give him a mighty high five. In short, they’ve helped him begin life’s most important journey – the path to finding himself, his own truth, his own way, outside of our family.

How can I possibly recognize the gift that these teachers and educational program assistants (EPAs) have given to our family? My best friend smiled at me as I tried to find just the right thank you – a gift card just doesn’t seem to capture the enormity of the contribution they’ve made.

Before we even had a diagnosis the Learning Centre was there for helping our son adjust to the routines of school life, giving him a quiet place in the midst of the sensory and social overload. And they were there for us too, as we navigated new terrain.

Once we knew about the Asperger’s, we’d sit around the table during program planning meetings and compare notes. What successes were we seeing? How could we tackle the latest challenge? And always, at some point, we’d end up laughing and sharing the stories that made us smile. That’s the part that always brings tears to my eyes – the moment when a teacher, like a grandparent or cherished aunt, shares the same intimate appreciation of your child’s special gifts; when you marvel at the same small things that are almost invisible to others.

Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t always been a picnic. We’ve all had our moments along the way. Times of intense worry (on my part) or times where the way forward hasn’t been clear. Or times when we’ve wondered if shrinking resources were going to make life more challenging for everyone.

But at the end of the day, the Learning Centre has been a tiny perfect microcosm of the community that I wish all our children could grow up in, a place that:

  • truly sees and celebrates the individual, without losing sight of the collective
  • has caring people who are there to help, but are equally intent on stepping back so kids can stand on their own
  • doesn’t feel sorry’ for our kids! They embrace their strengths and adapt for their weakneeses
  • admits there are at least ten ways to do every task  (especially if you visit the Dollar Store or use video)
  • recognizes that a joke is way more effective than a raised voice (I’m still learning this one)
  • is full of warm hearts and cool heads – a perfect combination when things get rocky

So as I look at pictures of my son’s Grade Six graduation, I know that behind every look of pride and joy and hard-won accomplishment stands the care and support of our Learning Centre staff. I’m not really ready to say good-bye to them, but I’ll never stop saying thank you.

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Filed under Celebrating Difference, Education, Family

What I learned on my summer vacation

Camping is a summer ritual for our family. Every year we tow our little tent trailer to various provincial and national parks. And every year camping shows us how much our boys have grown. How much they’ve learned and changed.

Photo by D. Wilson. Parks Canada

We had a glorious time camping in Kejimkujik National Park in August – full of the kinds of times that one hopes will become fond childhood memories later in life. Lazy mornings snug in sleeping bags, board games played on the picnic table, munching on s’mores by the campfire.

As the busyness of our daily lives fell away, I became aware of what they boys had learned over the past year and the lessons they were teaching me over the course of the summer.

Lesson #1: It really is a journey, not a destination!

Some of you will know that last summer Ryan said good-bye to training wheels for the first time. It was a big moment for him and for our family for so many reasons. So when spring arrived Mike and I were expecting bike rides galore. The training wheels were off. The milestone achieved. The learning complete. Ha!

There’s a big difference between riding a bike and going on bike rides. We quickly encountered a whole other level of learning that needed to take place around hills and speed and the myriad of other things that go into a successful bike ride.

It wasn’t always pretty – sometimes because Ryan fought getting on his bike and sometimes because I had to face my own need for ‘efficiency’ and ‘speed.’ Ryan was content to be riding and who cared when we arrived.

Lesson #2:  Man, those kids can really surprise you

We arrived at Keji with what I considered ‘realistic expectations’ around bike riding. The park has great mountain bike trails, but I assumed we would hike those and keep our biking on the roads, which are easier to navigate.

Day One at the park: Ryan immediately gravitates to the mountain bike trails; we spend the better part of the next 10 days covering at least 6k of trail every day and on our favourite day we probably covered 20k.

Mike and I were floored. We were elated, overjoyed, thrilled! I will never forget the feeling of flying along a mountain bike path, watching Ryan peddling his bike alongside Lake Kejimkujik. Mike provided steady, quiet commentary behind Ryan on his first ride and I could tell it left him feeling confident and at home on the trail.

Lesson #3: They really do grow up – and we have to grow with them.

This was also the first year the boys went cycling solo around the campground. And even though I knew they were ready and okay, I still had that dread of the unexpected.

True confessions: we called park security the first time Ryan went out and Euan came back without him. Ryan showed up 20 minutes later – having decided to go mountain biking on his own! Mike and I were upset and excited at the same time: “Omigod, we couldn’t find him. Omigod he voluntarily went biking on his own!”

This newfound independence extended to some playground visits as well. The boys kept in touch with walkie talkies and finally mastered the ability to hold the button and talk at the same time. I can still picture Mike’s grin as he carried on a long conversation with both boys.

It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges facing our kids – the things we need to work on and help them master. But we have to be determined not to let those ‘to dos’ define us or our relationships with them.

So for me, this will not be the summer of shoelaces or stressful summer camps. It will be a summer where we all learned to stretch ourselves a little bit more, step out of our comfort zone, and experience the thrill of doing something for the first time. We’ve already started planning next year’s mountain biking and our first family foray into backcountry camping. Stay tuned for more tales from the trails…the path may get a bit bumpy along the way, but I think we’re ready for it.

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Filed under Family, Sports and extracurricular activities

Here’s a sample checklist for the curious…

Thanks to everyone who commented on my recent post about how checklists are making life a little easier around our household. A few of you asked for a copy of the checklist, so here’s the morning routine. Bedtime available as well (fyi – I’m using ‘Go to the can’ instead of ‘Use the washroom’ because it’s language the boys like and therefore will respond to!)

Each item has a corresponding box to check off, I just couldn’t reproduce it in the blog.

The Kirby Morning Routine

*all times approximate

 6:00 – 6:30                 Wake Up

  • Go to the can                                                   
  • Wash hands                                                     
  • Make bed                                                         

6:30 – 7:00                 Choice time                                                                          

  • Reading in office
  • Play with Euan
  • Other…

7:00 am                      Breakfast

  • Eat breakfast                                                    
  • Bring dishes to counter when finished           

 7:30 – 8:00                 Choice time

  • Reading at table
  • Play with Euan                                                                                  
  • Other…

 8:00 am                      Get ready for school

  • Get dressed (see list on dresser)                    
  • Brush teeth (see list above sink)                    

 8:20 am                      Get dressed to leave for school

  • See list above coat rack                                  

8:30 am                      Walk to school

 

 

 

 

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Spontaneity really is overrated

Way back in my twenties I took a creativity course wherewe ‘practiced’ being spontaneous. And man, did I need practice. I’ve always loved having a plan and a recent conference helped me realize how much Ryan needs one too – and not just at school.

I’ve always known how helpful checklists and plans are for kids on the spectrum, and we often use them to plan unstructured time and to prepare for new events or happenings. But I’ve been reluctant to be too rigorous about everyday use at home – feeling it would be too restrictive and controlling of Ryan’s time and choices.

Then I attended the Autism Awareness Centre’s annual Halifax gathering in April and heard what education expert Catherine Faherty had to say on the subject. Faherty shared an amazing letter she received from one of her adult clients about how his daily checklists are lifesavers for him: how they help him use his time effectively, reduce his anxiety, and support him taking better care of himself.

Well, two days later I was in Staples picking up clipboards and laminate and working on checklists with both of my boys. And guess what? They LOVE them (especially my neurotypical son!). We have morning routine and a bedtime routine complete with boxes to check off when an activity is completed and they both include lots of choice time. We named the lists after their favourite Wii game (The Kirby Morning Routine and the Waddle Dee Bedtime Routine) and they each got to pick their favourite picture off the web to decorate their lists. (That’s what took the most time!)

The lists are helping them track their time better, rather than me nagging them all the time. And they are helping Ryan integrate some important activities into his daily routine without being constantly reminded . Mike went to the conference on the second day and the key message he brought home was about mastering skills – where an activity or behaviour becomes so engrained and known that reminders or prompts are no longer needed.

Ryan made his bed without being asked several times this week and automatically took his dishes to the counter – small, practical achievements that I couldn’t help but see having implications for organizing his time in high school and later on in his life.

The boys even realized that getting dressed before coming downstairs for breakfast means more choice time and less time spent going back upstairs to get dressed later, so we changed our checklists. The boys played for 30 minutes before school and were thrilled, and for the first time in years I got through an entire newspaper – my very own choice time. Like I said, spontaneity is overrrated: Long live the list!

 

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Filed under ASD events, Family, Planning for the future, Social stories

The Kindness of Strangers: Part One

I think what makes the kindness of strangers so powerful is the fact that it’s unexpected. We’re not looking for people we don’t know to go that extra mile for us, the way we hope family and close friends always will. And that’s why those small acts of kindness have the power to sweep us off our feet.

Take for instance, the incredible story forwarded to me this week by a friend at Carleton University. Confronting Asperger’s in the classroom is a lovely gem, wonderfully written, that tells the tale of several Carleton students who have Asperger’s Syndrome and how they, with their professor’s help, are navigating the maze of university life.

I was struck by two things right away: first I was moved by how a bit of extra effort on the professor’s part yielded such incredible dividends on the part of the student. The time he took to understand his student and adapt his style meant the difference between someone just ‘getting by’ or reaching their full potential. I was also struck by the reciprocal nature of his gift – how his kindness enriched him and opened his eyes to Asperger’s students and their particular needs and abilities.

I can imagine when dealing with students how difficult it must be to build relationships and how much easier it is to focus on things like ‘outcomes’ and ‘compliance’ and ‘socially acceptable behaviour.’ 

Now I See the Moon, by Elaine Hall

I’m reading a book right now called Now I See the Moon. It chronicles the journey of Elaine Hall, an L.A. acting coach for kids who adopts a young boy from Russia and soon finds out he is autistic. Her story is full of wonderful insight, starting with the book’s title, which finds its origins in a Japanese haiku:

 Barn’s burnt down –

now

I can see the moon.

That poem just makes me giddy with unexpected delight – how something you assume is awful is actually a hidden gift. Hall devoted years of her own working life to her son’s education and I was struck by her focus on meeting her son ‘where he lived,’ rather than trying to pull him into our neurotypical world. The people working with her son weren’t focused on changing his behaviours at first, they were focused on understanding those behaviours, matching them, and then using the resulting connection to build a relationship with her son. Once that relationship was established trust was able to grow and new doors opened.

When I read the article about the prof at Carleton University I felt the same way. He took the time to listen and learn, and the doors opened wide – not only for him, but for his students too.

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Filed under Books & articles, Celebrating Difference, Family

Now Playing: ‘Mind Over Matter,’ our music video about Asperger’s Syndrome

On Friday night our parents’ group celebrated a special milestone – the premiere of a new song and music video created to shine a light on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and tell a slice of our story as parents and families.

The project began as part of the new Atlantic Minds Wide Open film festival, an incredible undertaking that brought together filmmakers, mental health professionals and the community to explore the role that film and filmmakers can play in wellbeing.

Although ASD is not a mental illness, it’s common for kids and adults on the spectrum to experience mental health challenges due to their difficulties with social interaction and communication. The festival was a ready-made opportunity to spread the word – too good for us to pass up.

The video was a big step for our group and the families involved. It’s one thing to share our hopes, dreams, and challenges in our meetings; it’s quite another to stand up in front of our community and do the same.

But this project was clearly meant to be. Every step of the way, doors opened, connections were made, and things just got done.

The first ‘good sign’ was meeting Amy Spurway during a brainstorm session organized by the film festival. Then the idea of doing a music video just ‘came to her’ as she was heading out for our follow-up meeting over coffee. That night, the song ‘Mind Over Matter’ came to her too, as whole and perfect as an egg. I’ve included the lyrics below. I told Amy last night that I often find myself humming the song, sometimes during tough moments, and I find it very comforting. What a gift she has given us.

Then came the good graces of Kimberlee McTaggart – a Gemini-award winning editor and long-time fixture in Nova Scotia’s filmmaking community – and a woman I am fortunate to count among my closest friends. Even though she was in the middle of editing the third season of Call Me Fitz, Kim gave her very precious weekends to editing ‘Mind Over Matter.’ She also called in some favours from two very talented filmmakers: John Hillis and Caley MacLennan, who made our kids feel like movie stars with their attention, praise, and patience.

I also have to single out Dr. Andrew Starzomski, a psychologist at the East Coast Forensic Hospital, who organized the festival. Andrew supported our project from the very beginning, and gave more of his time to arrange, play, and record Amy’s song. One of my favourite shots in the video comes toward the end when Andrew is recording our kids singing; he looks up at the camera with a stunning smile, full of joy. His passion for helping others find their own joy is part of what made this whole process so meaningful.

On Friday night every parent marvelled at the beauty of the video, which captured the essence of our kids with warmth, humour and dignity. We also talked about our kids, who struggle with transitions, waiting, and following instructions, yet who were absolutely in their element on shooting day.

The project brought so many benefits the video itself is almost gravy! Making the signs for the video with our families was a great process. And getting together as a group is always good – I never fail to feel simultaneously lighter and more grounded after our gatherings.

But it was connecting with Andrew, Amy, Kim, John, and Caley, and all the folks who saw our video on Friday that made this matter to me. It’s all about telling our story and making the circle bigger for our kids. Stay tuned: a sequel is sure to follow!

Mind Over Matter by Amy Spurway

Imagine waking up each day with a feeling
no matter what you say or do you don’t belong
The bright light burns,
you can’t take turns,
they don’t get the way you learn
What you though would make you special, makes you wrong.

So it’s mind
Over matter
That’s what it takes for you
to face the world each day
It’s all mind
over matter
Why can’t they see your difference
in a better way.

Imagine waking up each day with a mission
to help your baby find some ground upon this earth
but folks don’t bend
don’t understand
they try to make them just pretend
Not seeing who they are, or what they’re worth.

So it’s mind
Over matter
That’s what it takes for you
to fight that fight each day
It’s all mind
over matter
Why can’t they see your strength
in another way

Imagine knowing that you could make a difference
you could help somebody spread their wings and fly
Give a little grace
and a little space
know a heart’s not lost or out of place
Just because someone can’t look you in the eye.

And it’s mind
Over matter
That’s all it takes for you
to change the world today
It’s just mind
over matter
Why not see our spirits
in a whole new way.

We can see our beauty in a whole new way.
We can change the world.
We can start today.

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Filed under Celebrating Difference, Family, Films & docs

Reflections on 10 years of marriage

Credit: digitalart

We’re celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this week. It’s a funny kind of milestone, since we’ve actually been together for 16 years (and have known each other for more than 20), but I’m a sentimental sucker so we went out for a nice meal and had a great evening. As we shared a few glasses of champagne I reflected on what particular brand of magic (or prayer!) helped us make it through the past decade which included: one move, two babies, one crib (unused), two diagnoses, five nannies, and the same old double bed.

My best friend often talks about 90% of parenthood being about ‘showing up’ and I believe her. Parenthood isn’t just about the big moments, like Ryan learning to ride a two-wheeler, it’s about all the little insignificant moments in between – the teeth brushing, story reading, bum wiping, sock sorting, lego picking upping, lunch packing, and sunscreen applying. In short, the stuff of daily life.

As I enjoyed a second, much deserved glass of champagne last night I realized the same held true for marriage – 90% of it is showing up. We just need to show up for slightly different things – like listening to each other’s work stories, or remembering to compliment, or to apologize, or to ask for something. And it’s not just about ‘being there,’ it’s about actually being present.

Here’s a few things that have helped with that:

  • Date night. Yes, it’s trite, but we have a weekly date night. I’d be embarrassed about it, but it really works! It’s the one night where we go out and talk, laugh, and leave our ‘business meetings’ about life and scheduling behind. Some of our friends book a night at home so there’s no sitter cost and that’s great too. I work from home, so I need to get out. We have a standing order with a babysitter and that’s worked for us.
  • Shared interests. We are nerds who love a lot of the same things in life: politics, newspapers, camping, birds, stars… it’s made a big difference in our ability to enjoy each other’s company and connect during good times and bad.
  • Anything said in the dark doesn’t count. This started when the boys were babies and in our bed and NOT sleeping. If the light is out there’s an amnesty on any cussing or complaining that takes place. Next morning is a new day.
  • Friends. Hanging out with friends really takes the pressure off your primary relationship. It also puts life back into perspective.
  • Self-care. When I started exercising again my outlook on life improved dramatically. When I started meditating the same thing happened.

I’m sure my friends are laughing as they read this post, since I’m certainly not a poster child for the ideal marriage, but I’m ‘dancing with the one who brung me’ and feeling really good about that. We’re laughing together. Crying together. Sometimes yelling together (or at each other). In short, we’re showing up – each and every day.

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Asperger’s and expectations: a summer of surprises

I’ve learned a lot about expectations this summer. We’ve spent most of our time travelling to visit family or holidaying with close friends. Every second week we’ve been off to a new destination – one trip involved a five-hour flight and seven-hour drive that took us right across the country, another included living with a dog the size of a small horse.

We did a social story about Buddy the dog and then we just crossed our fingers!

Given Ryan’s fear of dogs and his love of routine, I expected some serious bumps along our holiday highway. I was cursing myself for failing to see the big picture as I booked these various trips at different times of the year.

 But Ryan surprised us at every step of the way. The five-hour flight was breeze (Thank you Teletoon!), the seven-hour drive included only one major meltdown and détente was declared with the dog on day one.

As we watched Ryan adapt to new surroundings and new people every week, I was reminded of some wisdom shared with us during our quest for a diagnosis: a health care professional urged us to beware one of the pitfalls of diagnosis: lowering our expectations. I understood what he meant: we would ask less of Ryan, go ‘easier’ on him because he had a specific challenge.

Of course we have made allowances such as:

  • Using visual aids rather than relying on verbal instruction
  • Helping him choose appropriate extracurricular activities
  • Acting as bridge in building friendships
  • Being more understanding about his social faux pas
  • Respecting his sensitivity to smells/sounds

But our psychologist was equally clear with us early on: don’t let Ryan disappear down his rabbit hole of special interests or stay in his small comfort zone. Keep him engaged in our daily lives. Expect him to join in, to be a part of things. And for the most part it’s worked.

Our parents’ group recently had the honour of meeting a high school student with ASD who candidly shared his experiences of growing up with Asperger’s. He shared so many valuable insights:

  • How swimming provided him with an outlet for his anger/energy
  • How his Asperger’s led him to argue endlessly with his parents because his way just seemed better or smarter
  • How theatre became a passion for him and helped him learn how to interact more successfully with others

 But the biggest lesson I learned from this remarkable young man had to do with expectations. His parents had high expectations for him. They expected him to succeed. They pushed him to do his best. And even though he found it challenging, in retrospect he appreciated it.

His words underscored a key part of bringing up any child, but particularly a child with additional challenges: we need to help them push their limits – to stretch themselves – so they can feel the exhilaration of unexpected success.

An unforgettable day: swimming back from the raft

If you’d asked me in June if Ryan would a) go ‘tubing’ attached to  power boat b) jump off a six-foot dock or c) swim out to a raft in the middle of a lake, I would have answered ‘none of the above.’ But there you go, it’s been a summer full of surprises.

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Filed under Diagnosis, Family, Managing Anxiety, Social stories, Sports and extracurricular activities

Growing up with Asperger’s: A Sibling’s Perspective

 As parents we wonder what the impact of Asperger’s Syndrome will on the siblings of our Aspie children. Are we giving them enough of our attention? Are we asking too much? Do their needs take a back seat to the more urgent (or vocal) needs of their sib?

I had an opportunity to ask these questions when I was virtually introduced to Elizabeth Granby, an exceptional young woman who is pursuing a career in developmental disabilities as a result of her deep love for her brother, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was a teenager.

Elizabeth Granby on her brother: "I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who can make me laugh like he can."

Elizabeth recently completed an internship at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab inToronto and sat down to speak on the phone with me one evening after work.

 Tell me a bit about yourself.

I started off studying media studies and worked in the field for a few years, but it wasn’t where my heart was. 

My brother’s experience made me want to learn more. I feel like Autism Spectrum Disorders are a bit overlooked because they don’t necessarily fit into development disabilities and therefore they don’t really get the support that they need – or the right kind of support.

I’m really passionate about my work now and I want to eventually focus on how to expand services available for people with AS. 

Tell me a bit about your brother and your relationship with him?

 He is 22-years-old and even though he is my half-brother, and there is 10 years between us, we couldn’t be closer. He’s one of my best friends.

He lives on his own now in an apartment that’s close to my parents and he has a support worker who checks in with him once a week.

Right now he’s working on trying to find a job. That’s been a challenge and he tried using different agencies to help. With one agency, his co-workers knew it was a so-called ‘special job’ and they teased him. Now his support worker is focusing on his gifts – like music and wrestling – to try to find a more suitable job. It’s really important to him that he finds real work.

 How would you describe growing up with a sibling with Asperger’s?

It was always interesting. There was never a dull moment. My brother and I are really close and always have been.

It took a long time for the doctors to find his real diagnosis. When he was really young said it was ADHD, then they changed it to Tourette’s Syndrome, but my mom never felt that was quite right. He 14 or 15 when they finally said Asperger’s Syndrome. We started reading more about it then and said ‘Yes, this is exactly what it is.’ It was a relief to finally have a name for it.

I’ve always been a nurturer and that’s what I did with him. When he was young, he got anxious very easily and things could really set him off and start him pacing. I would instinctively grab him in a hug and hold him until I could physically feel him calm down.

What did you learn from the experience?

It really taught me to be flexible. It made me learn early on to be adaptable and go with the flow.

As I teenager I think I felt it more because I required more of my parent’s attention. I got good grades and didn’t cause too many problems. At that time being so flexible became a bit of a challenge.

I spent some time with my grandparents off an on, getting one-on-one support from them and that helped. They always talk about respite support for the family, but it’s sometimes siblings who need it too.

What was the most difficult about the situation?

Sometimes having a brother with AS can make our relationship a little one-sided. We talk on the phone every day. I spend lots of listening to him and supporting him, but I don’t always get the typical support back and that can be a challenge.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized he does support me and love me. But he shows it in different ways that other brothers and sisters might. Sometimes I have to look for it.

He knows this is something he needs to work on. When he calls me on the phone now he knows he can’t just launch into his stuff…he asks me how I am. We’ve been working on that for a year. He’s really trying to work on the one-sidedness.

What was the best part?

The laughter. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who can make me laugh like he can. We both enjoy the same things like live music or funny movie. Just having a good time.

How is your brother doing now?

After he left high school it was hard. He went to community college but nothing seemed to be sticking for him. He would stay up half the night playing video games. He wanted to move on to the next phase of his life but had no idea how to go about that.

When he started looking at his special interests things started to change. He loves wrestling and he started taking lessons and making friends there. On New Year’s Eve my Mom and I were on the phone crying because for the first time he was out with his friends.

What advice would you have for parents who are struggling to parent two different kids in as consistent and fair a way as possible?

Communication is really important. You’ve got to open up those channels and keep talking with them. My parents actually got some great insights into my brother from me because siblings know their sibs in a different way. 

We also had a ‘no lie’ rule after my parents tried to protect me from some difficult information about my brother. I felt really excluded and we all realized that covering things up only made them worse.

 It was also okay to have different rules for different kids in our house – we tried not to keep score! We appreciated being treated like individuals.

My parents would also do special things just with me from time to time to give me a little one-on-one attention. They knew us well enough to see the signs and know what we needed.

Are there any resources you would recommend?

The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood because he actually talks to people with AS and provide good insight into how to work through conversations with people with Aspergers: tips about redirecting and how not to escalate situations.

 I also like watching Temple Grandin’s talks and presentations online.

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Filed under Celebrating Difference, Diagnosis, Family