The Denver Autism Wheel

Encouraging your NT

Posted on: August 5, 2010

Breckenridge in May: a great place to go throw rocks in the water.

I read a statistic today that parents who have one child on the Spectrum have about an 8% chance of having another child on the Spectrum. The odds of any set of parents having a child with any kind of disability are about 3-5%. So the odds aren’t that staggering in the grand scheme of things. Karl and I have one of each: one autie and one “entie” (my own cockamamie made-up word: NT “en-tee” = neurotypical = entie).

Aaaaaanyway, one of our biggest worries (she says, laughing at the idea that all of our worries are calibrated and prioritized) has always been managing our attention, making sure Chris gets the support, therapy, intervention (and, let’s be human about it, love and face time) he needs while Luke gets the attention he needs, too.

So: Luke just started playing football. He’s played soccer for about 2 years, but this year, he decided he wanted to try something different. Whoa, yah, different. Loads more equipment, more practices during the week, longer practices, longer season…$$$…The good news is his coach decided halftime orange wedges were still a good idea for 7YOs 🙂

Luke is my “entie.” He loves Legos and Star Wars, football and things that go “boom” on the 4th of July. He has a BFF who likes to play fight and stay up really late, playing video games. He runs too hard, rides his bike too fast, talks too much…

In short, he’s the wheel that doesn’t squeak. He’s the one who “doesn’t need us as much.” So how does he not get ignored?

Well, that’s a balancing act all parents have to learn, isn’t it? No 2 kids are alike; each has their own interests and priorities, and each has to find a way to shine. And just because he’s developing typically doesn’t mean he doesn’t need us just as much. He’s the one people look at after they look at something strange that Chris has done. In some ways, he’s had to grow up more quickly than his peers, stepping in as translator or ringmaster (or bodyguard) when his brother couldn’t have known what was going to happen next. So there are times he needs to be a kid. And that’s what we have to keep in mind with both of them.

Chris isn’t a guinea pig for special diets and therapies. We tried to keep that in mind in the rush of the initial diagnosis—you know, the time when you tried to throw everything at it you could think of. Thing is, he’s also a kid who can’t feel wrong and different and abnormal all the time. There are times he needs to be a kid, too. He needs to be able to run and yell and spin in circles and have that be OK.

And Luke needs to be around his friends without his brother sometimes. He needs to see regular interactions, too. He’s not looking through the lens of autism, but he knows the lens is there. He needs to be able to hang out, play basketball on the playground on Saturdays, build a go-kart out of leftover 2x4s.

In a way, they are great counterpoints to each other. Chris helps us remember that Luke might need help finishing his homework assignment or figuring out why a pretty girl pushed him at recess. Sometimes typical people don’t make sense to each other, either 😉 And Luke helps us remember that Chris might need to drive to the mountains and throw rocks into Lake Dillon sometimes. It can be hard to be a kid. Period.

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