As the mother to three wonderful kids on the spectrum, I am given a unique opportunity to watch how each handles his and her challenges differently, and even better, how they come together as a triad to work out how the world works and ways to navigate an increasingly more complex world where social skills are vital to getting ahead and where deficits in language can cause huge misunderstandings.
Listening to my girls chat with each other is often a delight--the things I learn about how they process information really is priceless. Lily works hard to decode speech and the subtext, and will crow proudly when she thinks she's got it--"Sarcasm!" she will yell, arm outstretched and pointing, all while wearing a fierce grin of accomplishment. She's the same when she figures out something is a metaphor. And then she has a tendency to repeat the metaphor over and over, as if trying to fix it in her mind.
Last night's idiom was "drank the kool-aid" which she picked up from Warehouse 13. Over and over we heard her repeat it. This morning, while watching Good Morning America, it was "holding down the fort."
She's a bright young lady with a fair assessment of what she naturally misses, so watching her actively create workarounds is a fascinating exercise--listening to her try to explain it all to Rosie is truly an experience.
The girls bicker with each other, and it's illuminating to listen them. Together, they are actively seeking to understand how the world works, what things mean, why people act the way they do. They are each other's best assets. Add in Bobby to the mix, and while part of your head might want to explode, it's a triad of deeply opinionated siblings working to figure it all out and help each other see what one sees. It's loud, it's messy, but it's an independent (of me and their father) exercise.
It is a tremendous relief to see them work together, to stand together, to debate it out. Together, the three of them are stronger, smarter, more astute than when alone, and that ought to be a lesson to all of us parents--sibling relationships and interdependence are something we need to create an environment to allow blossoming. Where we have only children, we want to work hard to create opportunities for our kids to connect with cousins, near neighbors, support groups where they can network with other individuals on the spectrum.
Arm in arm, pulling the others along with them, our children go out into the world stronger.