While I most often focus on Little Dude's Asperger Syndrome, the reality here is that all four of our kids have special needs. Cookie has anxiety that's severe enough for a 504 Plan at school. However, she's also been accepted into the
The Pork Lo Maniac has a 504 for her ADHD, but we've also realized recently that she has some language processing issues. We're still trying to pin down what the exact issue is, but suffice to say that she takes things very literally. Even our autistic son has been known to say to her, "PLM, it's just an expression."
The Peanut Butter Kid has some anxiety issues (often manifesting in the infamous "tummy troubles") and is also freakishly smart. I know it's a great problem to have, but I also know that having a wicked smart kid is just as much work (if not more) for a classroom teacher than any other kind of special needs kid. At home it means that she's breezing through workbooks for the next grade up, and she's working on multiplication along with her older sisters. So we've put in a Smartypants IEP for her at school as well.
And then, of course, there's Little Dude. He has Asperger Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. He also has Sensory Processing Disorder, motor planning deficit, speech delay (clarity), Potty Avoidance Syndrome, Lego Obsession, and Let's Meltdown in Public Places Disorder.
It's a lot. It's a lot of driving to appointments and sitting in the waiting room while your sibling is in therapy. It's a lot of being patient, repeating yourself, and understanding that your sibling can't play right now because she/he is busy freaking out. It's a lot to ask of a child -- even a smart, caring, loving child. It's hard to be empathetic all damn day. I know. Especially in the summer when we're pretty much together 24-7.
And yet, they do it.
I am constantly amazed by my kids. Their capacity for understanding is seemingly limitless. Sure, we have plenty of bumps along the way. People lose patience, become frustrated, feel jealous. But overall, they are absolutely incredible.
I interviewed each of the Young Carnivores to ask them about how their siblings' quirks affect them. I also asked them each how they thought their own, um, unique awesomeness affects their siblings.
Their answers were insightful and surprising, and sparked a boatload of positive conversations for our family.
To read my guest post at Squashed Bologna, "Special to the Fourth Power," click here.