Before we get started…I need you all to know that Estelle said I could tell this story, she helped write pieces of it and chose the pictures. What a phenomenal way to allow her voice to be heard.
Conferences were this week and I was brought to a new realization.
Unintended fall out.
Estelle is a great student in so many ways – she is kind and thoughtful. She is helpful and genuine. She is an amazing writer and reader. She is a talented artist and musician.
Her teacher disclosed all of these wonderful details and then told me that she really struggles when her classroom becomes chaotic. When students begin talking and not following the schedule for the day. She doesn’t just gets irritated – she nearly shuts down. In Estelle’s words, “People are talking and it’s super loud and nobody is focused and it’s really hard to focus because everyone else is talking. Like recess. I don’t like recess because sometimes people are rude, they run into people, it’s so unorganized, and everyone is doing their own thing and that drives me a little crazy. People should pick what they want to do and stick to it.”
Her teacher told me that she’ll be doing great in class and then all of a sudden just glazes over. She couldn’t figure out what is going on.
I paused. I knew exactly what is going on.
Our house is calm – because Tucker needs it that way.
She doesn’t experience chaos, therefore doesn’t know how to handle it.
Our house is quiet – because Tucker needs it that way.
She doesn’t experience loud, therefore doesn’t know how to respond.
Our house is scheduled – because Tucker needs it that way.
She doesn’t experience spontaneous, therefore loses her way.
Our house is collective – because Tucker needs it that way.
She doesn’t experience doing things alone, therefore is troubled when others aren’t working together.
Our house runs a certain way so that her brother can have success in life and in school – what I never thought about? How that would affect the way she views the world.
If it’s not six of one, it’s a half-dozen of another. (Thanks, Grandma)
You can’t win for losing. (Thanks, Grandpa)
Her normal is a world modified for autism.
I have done lots of thinking about how the spectrum directly affects her, about how it affects the relationship she has with her brother, about how it can stand in the way of the attention she needs and deserves.
Why did I not consider this until now?!?!?!?!?!
Here are some perfect examples.
She struggles with rude. She struggles with rude because we are ultra polite in everything we do. Why? In her words, “Because Tucker needs it that way. We have to show him and show him and show him. We have to constantly teach him so that he never forgets to be polite.”
She struggles with sarcasm. She struggles with sarcasm because we don’t use it in our home. Why? In her words, “It would drive Tucker crazy. He wouldn’t understand anything. We have to say what we mean and mean what we say.”
She struggles with mean. She struggles with mean because we are never meant to each other in our home. Why? In her words, “If we were mean to each other it would be totally different. In a bad way. If we were mean, Tucker would think it was okay to be mean. He does what we do.”
She struggles with the drama. She struggles with the drama because we are a drama-free zone. Why? In her words, ‘If there was drama in this house Tucker would not be fun to be around. He wouldn’t learn how to socialize right.”
She struggles with any type of bullying or by-standing. She struggles with bullying and/or by-standing because it is unacceptable to make negative comments people’s differences in our home. Why? In her words, “All people should just be nice to one another. I worry about other kids being mean to Tucker, all the time. I would never want someone to be mean to him, cause he would never want someone to be mean to me even if I don’t have autism.”
She is mature beyond her years. For example, “Today people said there was a fight and I went to see what was going on because I was like, ‘there isn’t going to be any fighting.’ I went back there to see what they are doing and I decided I was going to go tell a teacher before someone actually got hurt.”
She is mature beyond her years because she has always been looking out for, taking care of, and being there for her ‘big’ brother.