Three Ring Circus

Some would say caring for a child with special needs is challenging enough. Imagine that times three. Tristan, 10, Jackson, 8, and Chloe, 5, are a prime example of what it’s like to care for an autistic child and their siblings. Jackson, being the autistic one, appears to have most of his home life adjusted around him. His mom even explained to me that Tristan started crying over his Grandma suggesting he put his toys up so Jackson could move around easier during his therapy sessions. I see the effect for when Jackson is either occupying the TV or the Xbox, Tristan tends to voice his frustration over Jackson supposedly getting those items more than he does . Jackson often denies it and the two start arguing . To remedy the situation, I tell Jackson he can have the Xbox for another hour and then Tristan gets a turn. With the TV, I only let them watch what they can agree on. This lets them know I’m being fair by not favoring one over the other. These methods prove to be effective because the arguing stops and they’re able to get along.

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Autistic Child and their siblings getting along with each other. Photo Credit by Canovas Alvaro

With Chloe, I usually have to worry about how many snacks she tries to eat rather than fighting with her siblings. I usually have to tell her no but sometimes it’s hard as she told me once, “I love you”. She tends to listen but sometimes I have to be firm. Luckily when I’m firm, she listens more and stops asking.
When the mom comes home she always asks me if they behaved. I always say yes but after 9 months she still skeptical to believe me. Sometimes she even responds with “Fuck You”. Our relationship is good enough to where we both start laughing. I know behind ever fuck you, her appreciation for me grows more and more. For parents who have children with autism, it’s best to make sure the child’s siblings know their need’s are just as important as theirs are. This way, they won’t develop resentment towards each other. This can also teach them to be more understanding towards their sibling’s disability.

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Thank You!

 

 While most of the individuals I’ve cared for have autism, there are a few I’ve cared for that have a different kind of disability – Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome patients are some of the kindest and most trustworthy human beings I’ve ever met. Aiden, 25, and Lucas, 5, acted like they knew me their whole lives even though they had just met me.

During my time with these two, they were always so happy and kind. Aiden would just smile and laugh for no reason and every time I did something for him he would always say “thank you”. Lucas was more on the trustworthy side than the being happy. My first visit with Lucas, all he wanted to do was watch his iPad. He would even grab me by my hand to lead me over to his iPad so I could turn it on for him. What amazed me was he was so comfortable with me knowing he had just met me for the first time. For any parents with Down Syndrome children, be wary of who they trust. Just because they trust that person, doesn’t mean that person is trustworthy.

Help Please

When we think of individuals having autism, most of us think of it as just a mental disorder. We couldn’t be more wrong. In my 12 months of working with autistic children, I’ve learned autism has many different levels of functionality. One individual I have cared for these past seven months has the most severe case of autism I have ever seen. Tom, 22, is still unable to communicate verbally to other individuals. Throughout my time with him, the most words he’s been able to say to me is two. More than two-thirds of children with autism can only speak in simple phrases. Autistic children who are nonverbal deal with language deficit orders into adulthood.

Another aspect I learned caring for Tom is the lower function the individual is, the harder they are to motivate. At times when trying to prompt Tom to perform an activity; such as going for a walk, he tends to look at me with a blank stare. I usually have to prompt him about two or three times to do the activity before he does it. Most of the time I have to offer him a reward for performing the activity I or his mother wants him to do. If their experience isn’t appealing to them, they tend to let their autism get the better of them.

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Autistic Child giving a blank stare. Photo credit by Maria Dubova.

Young adults on the spectrum, like Tom, have fewer programs to support their needs. The mother has explained to me that because he is so low functioning, he still struggles with childlike problems. The problems her son deals with involves not wiping after using the bathroom and episodes of anger when he is told to do something he doesn’t want. The mom says because of this, he doesn’t qualify for certain company’s services.
Every individual with autism is affected each day no matter how severe their disability is. Just because some individuals have it worse than others, doesn’t mean they should suffer because of it. These individuals were born with it, they can help having it. As much as I try my best to help Tom, he deserves more help than I can offer. The more help he can get, the better chances of gaining skills others with autism have been able to gain.