Monday, October 3, 2016

How I Told My Daughter That Her Brother Has Autism






Natalie was about six or seven when she first began noticing her brother's quirks. Before that, he was just another cool kid in the house to amuse her.







And then one day she asked me, "Why does Tommy flop on his bed over and over again?"

It's something he does to calm himself down. To calm his body down. Sometimes he says it feels like he has a bunch of prickles all over and the only way to get rid of them is slamming his body against his mattress repeatedly. I'm used to it. But to someone who has never seen something like it before, it can be a mystery.

I explained to Natalie that the motion calmed her brother down.

"Why does he hum weird sometimes?" she continued, eyebrows furrowed. "My friends have brothers and they don't do that."

Tommy has a hum he emits that is high-pitched. He does this randomly throughout the day, mostly when he's crashing on the bed.

"It helps him," I replied. "He does some things that might appear to be weird to you and I, but it's completely normal for him. Your brother has autism."

I explained what it was the best I could. I told her that it means he learns differently, that he sees and feels the world differently, but that's he's still smart.

"And funny!" Natalie chimed in. "He always yells at me to get out of his room."

Well. I'm glad that part amused her.

I always knew Tommy wouldn't have the same relationship with his sister like others do. For example, while some big brothers quickly step in when their sisters are upset, Tommy is all, "She probably deserves it. She's too loud." If he sees Natalie crying, he'll be like, "Stop. You're being dumb. Why do girls cry over everything?" I have to remind him that he needs to be a tad more sensitive but sometimes he forgets.

I managed to find some books on autism that explained things in a simpler way for Natalie.





Those books helped her realize that Tommy has some sensory issues--she understood it is why Tommy looks completely grossed out when we carve a pumpkin. He cannot stand the feeling of the pumpkin guts. "Your autism doesn't like this, huh?" Natalie asked.




She understands better now, at 9. She'll tell people, "I have a brother and he has autism. It means his brain is wired differently, and when he's done, he's done. But we love him so much!"



And she's right.

71 comments:

  1. This is a great idea for a children's book (how I found out my brother has autism)! You should write it!

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    1. Yes, you should!! This is a great post! You rock as a mama!!

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  2. This post made me a little teary-eyed. It's surprising but little kiddos have way more acceptance for others than we expect them to. Kudos to you for explaining all of this to both your daughter and your son! I love that book - do you have any other recommendations of books to explain autism to a young child?

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  3. Family love is important. Having autism or not, its always the love that is important and openly understanding. Your young man is a genius, you'll be amazed one day how he could do things so easily :D

    And a lovely little princess you have.. I believe she will grow up a lady with a good heart.

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  4. That book is brilliant. And true. Cats do, don't they?
    What she tells people nails it. I always think it's fascinating that some kids learn a normal that has always been there for them, and it takes time to realize it's not necessarily the same for others.
    I have a few sensory issues that my kids don't have and it's interesting to explain even that to them!

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  5. I know an adult who could benefit from this. I was at a house a few weeks ago. One of the homeowners' son is autistic. One of the adults was having so much trouble dealing with it and her child was having a problem too (following her mother's lead)

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  6. I am glad there are books to help. It has to be hard on your daughter at times but thankfully she understands.

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  7. One of our friend's older son is autistic and they have two other kids who are perfectly normal. In fact their daughter just made it to UC Berkeley with full scholarship. I think having a special needs sibling, make the kids responsible and modest and humble and ultimately better human beings.
    What you are doing for your family is awesome. kudos.

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  8. Kids can be so compassionate and understanding, it simply melts my heart. I love it that you are explaining this to her in this manner and teaching her so many life values in the process.

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  9. This is lovely! I will have to look out for some books for when my little girl is older and needs help understanding her brother :) thanks so much.

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  10. This is lovely! I will have to look out for some books for when my little girl is older and needs help understanding her brother :) thanks so much.

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  11. How cute is that! Love how you taught her and how accepting and loving she is towards him!
    Kyla
    Wanderlustkyla.com

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  12. This is such a great post, thank you for sharing!

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  13. Such a cute and inspiring post! I have to say, I have tears in my eyes. You have a great family!

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  14. What a wonderful post! She sounds like a fantastic sister :)

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  15. Have you seen the show "parenthood"? There is a family on that show with a son with asperbergers and I think it does a great job of educating people on it

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  16. I love the way you explained everything to your daughter. It sounds like they have a wonderful relationship.

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  17. This just melted my heart. I love how you explained everything to your daughter - so thoughtful!!

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  18. This is amazing and more people need to learn about this. Some of my educator friends probably need to as well. It was frustrating for me when I had my first run ins with people that had autism because I wasn't educated about it, but now that I know more, it makes life easier. Shoutout to your daughter for being awesome too!

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  19. What a sweet post! I'm curious about that cat book :)

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  20. Since Jaina is older, she knew Jayce had autism before he did. We had to explain why all these pretty college girls were coming over to "play" with Jayce every single day while he was in ABA therapy. And why he had to go to OT, ST, and Feeding therapy so much.

    Jocelyn is 4 and has heard us say it, but we haven't sat her down and had a talk yet.

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  21. I have a nephew who has specials needs too and his younger sister was a big help. Informing them earlier on and making them aware is a big help to everyone in the family.

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  22. I really appreciate how you have made Natalie understood about her brother's autism! It will also grow the bonding of brother and sister!

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  23. This is a very touching story that you've brought to life through your blog. I truly appreciate your sharing it with us.

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  24. IT sounds like you explained it so perfectly to her. This is such a unique perspective on it all. Awesome post!

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  25. I can tell she still looks up to her big brother!! What a great way to explain everything to her!

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  26. I sometimes think it's easier for kids to understand and accept.

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  27. You are a great mama and you can tell the two of them love each other. She will always have his back.

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  28. That is so awesome that there are books for this. I bet that helps so much.

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  29. Its nice that there are books and things to help her sweet soul understand!

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  30. It's good to be honest with our kiddos. I couldn't have answered her questions any better.\

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  31. This is an awesome story. I've never read anything like it. You're journey is amazing and it's nice how you explained it to her.

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  32. This is an incredibly inspirational story. The look like they have a close bond.

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  33. What a great tale! Your children are beautiful and obviously love each other!

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  34. You did a great job explaining to your daughter what autism is. It's nice to have a book that will help them inderstand as well. There is so much love in your family. It's awesome.

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  35. This is such a sweet story. I can feel the love in this family.

    Good morning there !

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  36. This is a beautiful post about teaching acceptance and not justt staying quiet about things. I feel all parents have something to learn here.

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  37. What a lovely post. I know this can be a difficult thing to deal with but being honest and real allows you to accept it and move forward from it.

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  38. This is a great read, I love all the sibling pictures!

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  39. Such a sweet story! Thank you for sharing and embracing your special boy!

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  40. It sounds like she has such a great grasp on what autism is and will be such a caring advocate for her big brother. I love how she refers to it as "your autism doesn't like that, huh?" That's a smart little girl. :)

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  41. This post made me so happy. Children are so innocent and sweet. The love and understanding from a sibling lasts forever!

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  42. What a beautiful relationship your babies have, thank you for sharing your story!

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  43. This is very inspiring post! I am glad that book helped. It is very important how we teach your kids. You have beautiful children. Thanks for sharing beautiful story.
    Rita | http://styleroundtheclock.com

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  44. As a Mom this really touched me. Thanks for sharing!

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  45. So great you were able to find a book to help!

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  46. She took it and understood it pretty well. I bet it was difficult to try to explain it though.

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  47. Great personnel post, i hope it helps lot of other people, you are a brave mama :)

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  48. It made me teary. They are really sweet kids!

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  49. Really nice post. I'm glad that she understand that her brother love her but sometimes doesn't know how to show it.

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  50. I love this! Your explanations are wonderful... and your children are so lucky to have each other! :)

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  51. This post is very inspiring. Your kids sound like great friends, I'm so glad his sister understands what's going on!

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  52. OH my gosh! She is such a good sister! I love what she says to people about his brain being wired differently and when he's done, he's done. That is an excellent way to put it. Also, want to say I didn't know cats have Aspergers! That is a great way to show children what Autism means.

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  53. This makes my heart so happy! I am sure that she will have an amazing relationship with her brother as she grows!

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  54. Such an inspiring story. Beautiful relationship that will grow over the years.

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  55. Such an inspiring story. Beautiful relationship that will grow over the years.

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  56. Wonderful post! I will be checking my local library for that cat book...

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  57. You've done so well, lovely. I'm sure that wasn't an easy conversation to have. Also, the way she yelled "And funny!" melted my heart.

    All the love to you and yours!

    Sondra Barker
    PrettyFitFoodie
    prettyfitfoodie.com

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  58. Aw, what a great post! Thanks for sharing this :)

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  59. Incredible! I love how you used the books to help explain!

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  60. What an inspiring post, thank you for sharing!

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  61. Really eye opening,this is an important awareness topic.

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  62. That's awesome that she's in tune to the differences and that you found great resources for her!

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  63. this is deep and thought inspiring, such ideas are always welcome as it does its job so well as you will want it.

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  64. How touching and inspiring. Your daughter seems like she has great emotional intelligence.

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  65. Wow that is such a great way of explaining it to her. I'm glad there's a kids book to help too.

    Nina
    aworldofdresses.com

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