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When One Twin Has Autism

Updated on July 20, 2012
My twins!
My twins!

What I have learnded from my twins...

I have twins, one boy and one girl, and they are inseparable. But, they are EXTREMELY different. Even at 7 years old, I am frequently surprised at their differences. This week was their birthday. Like so many other parents, making sure they each feel special is no easy task. My son requires more attention and focus than my daughter right now. He has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With ASD comes many particular challenges, specifically, understanding the waiting game. It's hard for any child to wait for things, especially if they KNOW they are waiting for toys or games. As much as I love birthdays and holidays, I also know that they can be more challenging for my son. And so, each experience will be different for each child.

Raising children can be so rewarding. Every day, we experience life's little miracles all through the eyes of the children we have helped mold and shape. These experiences are precious, but they are also heartbreaking for every parent. Being a single parent, I admit that being a helicopter or hovering parent seems ingenious! I am happy to dodge and weave and clear all the obstacles that come their way in order to clear the path for happiness. I also understand that that is not reality (too bad). In order for our children to grow, we must let them form their own experiences and pray that we have taught them well enough to navigate through life with the most formidable skills. This is how I try to be with both my children. Unfortunately, this is not an innate quality in my son. Everything he does he must learn to do and I will not lie, it can be extremely frustrating for all of us at times.

As they get older the differences are becoming more apparent to both of them. When they are little they are mostly aware of only themselves but as they grow so does their understanding of the world and each other. Is it just me or do other parents in similar situations deal with these challenges as well? My daughter has become part sister, part mother and part teacher. I am fine with the sister role, but in truth I am having a much harder time breaking her of parent and teacher role. Part of it stems from her frustration of having to adapt to his style of learning. Because of his ASD, we can never just get up and go anywhere. We must plan first. There is a part of me that is proud of the way she handles herself and that she is inherently tolerant of so many things; but there is also a part of me that wishes she could just be seven. It has taken me years to realize that each child is wired a certain way from birth. Like me before her, she is naturally old before her time. Not the same for my son. His world starts anew every day. As a parent, it's a hard lesson to learn or at least it was for me!

What I Have Learned from My Twins

As the school year winds down I am amazed at all the new things they have learned. But when I really think about it, it was me who learned so much.

  1. I learned that though my son faces many challenges, he is also learning to embrace his uniqueness.
  2. I learned that he is more capable than I gave him credit for and he is learning how to be more independent.
  3. I learned that answering, "Because I said so," does not fly with my daughter and that when she demands an answer, it's because she has earned the right to question me.
  4. I learned that Autism is nothing to ever be ashamed of or hidden behind - it is only part of a whole and there is so much more that defines us than one label.
  5. I learned that I cannot solve all my kids’ problems....but more importantly, they do not want me too. (This one is particularly tough for me)
  6. I learned that each child needs to be spoken to differently at times and not all punishments are equal. (And this one is particularly tough for them)
  7. I learned that patience is NOT INNATE it is something that needs to be carefully nurtured and like a flower it needs some TLC and must be fed and watered or it will be dead and gone before you know it!
  8. And lastly, more than anything, I learned that even with all my planning and my organizing and my preparing I know that I will still forget my keys, their drinks, his blanket, my computer, her yellow bear. But it will be ok, because I am positive we did a social story on this before and we will muddle through and figure it out together. All I will need is some patience!


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    • SRae profile image

      Shelia Wadsworth 5 years ago from Central Pennsylvania

      Mom4autism,

      I can relate to your article. Although I do not have a child with autism, as a Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS or wraparound) most of my clients have been on the spectrum. My most recent client was boy with a twin sister and she behaved very much the same way as your daughter. Their mother is a single parent as well so I am going to share your work with her. Another family I worked with was a pair of twin girls on the spectrum (God bless their mother!). I enjoyed reading this article and will soon read the others. I am new to hubpages but I am getting the hang of it : )

    • mom4autism profile image
      Author

      Lisa 5 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Thank you @lord de cross. I think it's so hard for parents to juggle the system and their children. My main goal is to find ways to work together on these issues. The kids are fantastic and the more open I can be with them, the better we all seem to handle difficult situations. I really appreciate your comments, thanks!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Some parents feel so helpless and the system is limited with the fiscal burden. I applaud the mothers that have to understand the day by day challenge. Your twins are so awesome! You keep those magical stories coming!

    • mom4autism profile image
      Author

      Lisa 5 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Thank @missolive. I appreciate your kind words. I completely agree about wanting the best for our kids. I swear I learn much more from them than they learn from me! And thank you for the compliment - though I am a bit biased!

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      wow! Great story and an interesting situation for you as a mom. I'm sure your daughter will be just fine and your son will also grow up to be as independent as possible. As a fellow aspie mom I can relate. In the end - regardless of their disability, we want all of our children to be the best that they can be. You are doing a fantastic job. I look forward to reading more.

      By the way, they are ADORABLE!

    • mom4autism profile image
      Author

      Lisa 5 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      So true supermom!!! It does suck - and thank you for your words of encouragement!!!

    • supermom_in_ny profile image

      supermom_in_ny 5 years ago from NY

      Great hub! I know how hard it is to realize that as they grow older, they become independent. My youngest child (#7) is autistic. Everything has been so different with him. He's 11 now and constantly reminds me that he is not a baby anymore. I want to protect him, but I have to let him grow up. Autism sucks. Anyway, I voted this up and rated it awesome - because that's what your family is! ;)