Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Comparisons......Just Can't Stop Myself

I have a set of boy/girl twins on the spectrum.  They will be 7 in a couple of months and they were first identified when they were 26 months old.  They always carried the same diagnoses.....they were both initially diagnosed with "Severe Autism".  Their current doctor believes a more accurate categorizations for them both is now "PDD-NOS" (as they have learned many skills since their original assessments).  They both have ADHD and are classified as "Hyperlexic".

I always thought that, since my twins are not identical (hey, they're a boy and a girl.....they can't be identical), I wouldn't fall into the trap that so many parents of multiples easily find themselves ensnared within.  The trap of comparing the two.  The trap of measuring one's successes or lack of success with the other.  But I still do fall into that trap from time to time.  And what always seems to bring it on is their diagnoses.

You see, you would think that, with identical diagnoses, they would have things in common.  You would think that I could take what I learn from one and apply it to the other.  At least that's what I thought.  But, in practice, that's just not the way it goes.  They are constant reminders to me that each case of Autism is truly unique, just as each child is unique.

This is something I was reminded of, yet again, last week during parent / teacher conferences.  Both Music Man and Ballerina attend the same school, but Ballerina is in a General Education classroom (with assistance from paraeducators) whereas Music Man is in a Special Education classroom.  I felt both conferences went well without any surprises.  But we still see the many areas where they differ from one another.

With Ballerina, we spoke a lot about her developing friendships, especially with a particular classmate.  She is now sitting with this other student and they spend time together on the playground and when they are given freedom of selection in their partners.  This other parent and I are even trying to arrange a mutually convenient time for the girls to get together for a playdate.

For Music Man, on the other hand, he has NO desire to be interacting with the other students in the classroom.  He will do so when he has no other choice or when the activity is of his own design.  For example, he will read a story to his classmates and they will act it out (as I mentioned, he's hyperlexic and his reading decoding ability is probably near high-school level).

This is something that I struggle with.  Big Brother, my typically developing 3rd grader, is a very social creature.  He likes to spend time with his friends.  Ballerina is starting to engage in similar behavior.  These are GOOD things!  These are helping them both develop skills that they will need as they grow.  But Music Man would prefer to do anything BUT spend time with his peers.  He would rather read or play on the computer or with his phone.  Or watch a movie or a cooking show off Food Network (a habit he's picked up from me).  And he is a very determined individual.....you can't MAKE him do things if he doesn't want to.  The most I can do is to put him in situations where he has to encounter another human being.  But even then, he will walk into a corner and turn away so he can do his own thing.  Even in dance class, he would prefer to stand behind a wall (and do the actions directed by the teacher), as long as he doesn't have to be with the group.

But not her.  She is starting to want to be with others.  She recently discovered dolls and is re-enacting parts of her school days with the 10 or so Barbie-style dolls we have for her.  She is going to start playing soccer in the spring like several of her schoolmates.  For the first time, SHE is asking to participate in these types of activities.  But Music Man would prefer to stay home and play on the computer.

I realize that this is not 100% a bad thing.  There are many opportunities for people who would like to spend their time sitting in front of a computer screen.  And there are times that we realize how much he knows how to do.  But I do worry about him much of the time.  And I wonder why, given that they have so much in common, he is so unlike his sister.

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My name is Ilene and I'm a happily married SAHM to 3 amazing and AWEsome children.  My eldest is a typically developing 8 year old and I have a set of fraternal girl/boy 6.5 year old twins who were both diagnosed with Autism when they were 26 months old.

Blogging is something I started doing not long after we learned they were on the spectrum.  I started my own blog and I call it my "publicly available online journal".  I've used it to cope and to educate.  I am also the administrator to the Facebook page We Care About Someone With Autism, which I started about 2.75 years ago.  I haven't had much time to blog lately, which I regret.


  1. I find it incredibly fascinating to compare autism with autism. I have a little school for kids on the spectrum (started it for my son). Each of the six kids are SO different from the other. They do have one thing in common - they are all really wonderful kids! :-)