Thursday, January 9, 2014

When the Little Sibling… Isn't

This week has been… ugh.  I'm hoping it's just some sort of allergic reaction to being back in school on a daily basis.

Doodlebug has been/caused 90% of the problems… I hate to say it, but I will - AS USUAL.  I don't get him in trouble for every little thing, but I still have to deal with all the shenanigans, big or little.

I have to do things like reminding him that he cannot unplug the headphones his sister is using because her talking while using Rosetta Stone is 'annoying.'

Things like making him 'stop, empathize, and apologize' when he dumps his sister out of a chair so he can use it.

And telling him to flush the #%&@!# toilet for the umpteenth time this week.

And making him pick up the toenail clippings that he'd saved and placed on his sister's desk.

And asking him not to scream at me when I'm trying to help him.

And begging him to stop placing his pufferfish skeleton in random places to scare his sister.

And bloody asking him to bloody well do what I bloody well asked him to do half a dozen bloody times already.

Y'know.  Things like that.

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Yesterday about 3:30, I reached my wits' end.  The children had been screaming and crying and carrying on for hours (seriously, hours), and so I sat down and very calmly wrote out a meal plan and grocery list for the next 10 days.

And then I went to the grocery store.

Alone.

Before I left, I wrote the kids some very specific instructions about what remained to be done during the duration of the evening.  I've done this before, and I'm perfectly aware that the minute I leave the house, all progress halts.  Normally I just tell them to become electronics zombies while I'm gone, but yesterday stuff actually needed to be completed.  I figured I'd come back to maybe 50% of the work done… maybe.

What actually happened was that nothing got done.  Unless you count Boo pulling a giant metal staple out of a box to use as a paper hanger for her drawings as progress.  And, of course, they lied to me about their lack of work because they realized in a sheer panic that they'd done nothing.  Meh.  Fine.  After the day I'd already been having, it was a little thing.  I didn't like it, but it was a little thing.

So I came home and unpacked the groceries and they worked on their lists and eventually we made it to the end of the day and they went to bed.  Doodlebug went straight to sleep, as he always does.  Boo, on the other hand, was in bed for an hour or so and then came downstairs.  She wanted to talk.  We cuddled in my bedroom chair for a minute and chatted about how awful the day had been before she got to the point - she's exhausted with Doodlebug's unpredictability.

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Most families I know who have one ASD child have all their children somewhere on the spectrum.  In some ways, this makes it easier because while all ASD kids have their own quirks and foibles just like every other kid, you can at least expect some consistency in some areas.  None of them socialize well.  They're all slow to mature emotionally.  There are usually some motor skills issues at play.  Things like that.

Doodlebug and Boo aren't like that.  He's ASD; she isn't.  She very much isn't.  She delights in being around people, reacts well to them, is emotionally very mature, and is as coordinated as any 8-year-old (except when she's walking up and down stairs… I've only ever known one other person who will consistently fall while going up stairs.  I need to get her and Boo back together, partly for that reason and partly because I think that woman's older brother is on the spectrum as well and it might be good for Boo to have someone to relate to).  And, of course, since Boo and Doodlebug are together for the majority of each day, they have to deal with each other.

So Boo is exhausted.  It's hard for her when Doodlebug acts like a 6- or 7-year-old, because 10 minutes later he'll turn around and act like the 11-year-old he is.  And then five minutes after that, he's acting like a 6-year-old again.  For example, he might decide that he wants to make pancakes for the family breakfast.  That's an 11-year-old thought.  He'll get out the recipe and all the ingredients.  Again, that's 11.  His sister will want to help, and he'll say okay.  And then he'll decide to throw flour at her or steal candy or ban her from touching some cooking utensil or other… and that's 6.

Apparently while I was gone yesterday, he decided that rather than let his sister take care of her responsibilities - which she probably would have done if she'd been on her own, and in a year or two he can come with me while I go places and she can do that but right now she's 8 and it's not happening - he was going to pretend he was a dog and she was supposed to take care of him.  And when she tried to walk away, he followed her around.  Well, of course that gets tiring, and eventually it's just easier to give in to him than to fight with him or do chores.  I get that.  What I don't know is how to help her deal with these social and emotional see-saws that seem to blindside her every single time.

Anyone have any ideas?

4 comments:

sheila said...

I'm on a few homeschool lists up here (BC) and the Vancouver list often puts out posts for parents of kids on the spectrum; I think they have support groups for parents AND for siblings. So everyone can learn how to cope strategically and effectively. Is there something like that where you are?

You have my sympathies; I hope attending public school lessens a lot of these frustrations.

Gillian said...

No ideas... I'm sorry. Just sympathy.

Sarah said...

There are support groups for kids and for parents, but not much in the way of help for siblings/families that I'm aware of. I'll have to poke around a bit more...

Aunt Andrea said...

You probably already know about Sibshops, and I don't know if they'll help in your case, but I do know they host them in Guthrie so there's a good chance you'll find one up near you: http://www.siblingsupport.org/