One of the hardest things I ever did was to foster a girl who was nearly 14 years old. She had some emotional disturbance and special needs in that way (not autism) but I did not realize until she came into my house how hard it would be. I knew the girl for 2 years previously and had adored her in the group home situation she was in where I worked but in my home it was a completely different matter.
I also agree with what all the previous posters said. I have had my own 12 and 14 year old ASD kids in my house since birth and it is still hard many days. I understand why they do what they do most of the time and I can see the good in them too, but the hard stuff can be really really hard.
I didn't see you as selfish, I saw you as a mom who is trying and looking for help.
As for the other kids, that is hard particularly if she is very verbal and doesn't automatically "look" disabled. It is hard to remember that her brain works differently and there is much they can do that she cannot. My younger 2 still have trouble with this particularly when it comes to their brother. What is really interesting in my house is that even the 2 with ASD have different expectations because they have very different expressions of their autism.
My DH has a good line for that. Fair isn't everyone getting the same, fair is everyone getting what they need.
There are a couple great books that may help you. Chantal Sicile-Kira's "Adolescence on the autism spectrum" and for the siblings "Views from our Shoes" it is a collection of essays from other sibs of kids with special needs.
Good luck! And welcome.
Well, my ds (8) is my biological son and there are many times I feel like the disconnect is huge between us. I have to make a concerted effort to connect with him, as all he wants to do is babble on about his current obsession. I feel terribly guilty when connecting with my other two comes so much easier, especially my dd (19 months) who is typical. One thing we do connect about is fantasy and movies so I have tried to connect through that shared interest. Granted it's still tough when I get the deeper meaning of a plot or special effect and he just wants to echo the one line that got his attention.
If I had Liam dropped in my lap at the stage he's at now I'd probably run for the hills, lol, but I have had 8 years of experience watching him grow, improve, and make huge strides (granted in baby steps). There is a reason you are training to be a spec ed teacher and having Ann in your life will make you so much better for your craft; I often feel like the young spec ed teachers without personal knowledge of a spec needs kiddo never quite get it. I would also agree with Paula's advice (as I usually do:), and try to use Ann's obsessions or interests to connect. Don't expect miracles, but those baby steps do occur. (((Hugs)))
you are certainly NOT a selfish mom. It has got to be difficult blending a family; adding autism to the mix must be trying on even a saint! I feel the same way as you many times and my children are all my own biological kids. I've known them since birth, I nursed them for a year, I changed most of their diapers and yet.... there are days that I feel I'm going to go insane if I have to deal w/ any more from my almost 12 yr old who acts like a 5 yr old. We often get the 'why does he get to do X, when I don't?' But now that my kids are getting older they're understanding more that you have to help your brother in some things and in other things he'll help you. Doesn't seem fair, but life isn't fair. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, his just happen to be much more obvious in lots of situations.
Glad to have you post, stick around, the more the merrier!Betsy
Welcome out of lurkdom, Kim. I am glad you found the courage to post.
Step-parenting any child is tough, but to do so with an ASD can be especially challenging. I think you have identified the barrier, which is a HUGE step: She relates to the world differently than you do; she relates better to "things" whereas you relate to people. You need to find a way to somehow bridge that gap.
Have you read any books by Donna Williams? In "Nobody nowhere", she talks about how she related to people through their things, and how she bonded with her grandparents through objects. Her stories on the subject relate to a time when she was younger than Anne is now. But still, it might help you to read works by an autistic -to try and get more of an inside view. Temple Grandin is another autistic author.
Donna Williams also talks about how she had a hard time generalizing concepts: How if she learned something in the kitchen at night, it would not translate if the exact same situation occurred in the living room during the day (or something like that). I wonder if your "explaining things 50 times a day" situation is something similar?
My thought on the subject of bonding is to try and find some kind of common ground for yourself and Anne. Maybe some kind of hobby or interest you can share? Two examples with my own daughter: I recently taught her to knit, and she took off with that like you wouldn't believe (knitting is a great Aspie interest: All that lovely yarn! sensory heaven!). She is also strongly interested in cameras and photography (since 2yo!) and that is another way to connect with her. I don't know what Anne's special interests are, or if she has any talents, but I would start with those, and try and find something in there that you can share.
Lastly, I think you should try to find some professional help if you can. A psychologist or social worker who specializes in ASDs could likely help you all guys with this transition to blended family with special needs.
I hope this helps some. Please feel free to post, ask questions, vent and cry as much as you need.
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