Things could have been so different

Every so often you get a moment in time when you realise that things could have been so different. A photo, a sound, an item you find, or maybe even something you read. For me it was seeing my children playing together. Because with the vastness of difference of ability, despite being exactly the same age, moments of true interacting together do not happen as often as they should. Naomi wants to play established games with rules, or imaginary games enacting various things she has read or watched, or colouring in and practicing writing. Isaac is still at sensory play, chewing toys or throwing them about the room. And with one talking in full sentences and the other twin still not able to say one word, it makes playing together a very real challenge.

So when they both just wanted to post food cards into a greedy gorilla game it was lovely.

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But that moment did make me wonder…

I wonder what it would have been like if neither of them had autism. I wonder what it would be like if Isaac did not have his complex needs. What would they talk about if they were both fluent speakers? What would it be like to have the moments of quality time reading bedtime stories to two children rather than just one? What if I could ask them both what they would like for dinner rather than only asking one and having screaming from the other? What if they could dress themselves, were both independent in going to the toilet, were going to school together like siblings should, had friends round to play? What if I could take them both in the garden and watch them kick a ball together without fear of one of them running away?

Things could have been so different.

Today Naomi’s nursery asked the children to dress as a character from a book as part of literacy week. There was never any doubt in my mind who Naomi would want to dress up as due to her love of all things ‘Topsy and Tim’. And as my daughter left for nursery dressed in school uniform the same as Topsy in her favourite book, ‘Topsy and Tim start school’, I could not help but once again feel things could have been so different. You see Topsy and Tim are five year old twins, just like Isaac and Naomi. Like almost all twins they share all their experiences together. Even Naomi could not help herself this morning in commenting that it would have been nice if her brother had gone with her dressed as Tim. She wasn’t just referring to today at nursery either, as she is now realising that when she starts school in August her brother will not be there. Up until now ‘school’ to her was where her brother went. Now ‘school’ is becoming two different places as she processes the fact her brothers life will never be the same as hers.

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Things could have been so different.

I could have walked to school with both my children. I could have been washing jumpers with the same logos on. They could have done their homework together, went on school trips together, played with each other in the playground, had the same holidays, had school photos together.

Instead we have different days off, the inequality of one child experiencing horse riding, swimming, sensory rooms, soft play and interactive tv’s while the other will have homework, reading and writing. We have challenges of one child using language to get what they want while the other lies frustrated on the floor, unable to tell us what is wrong. We have the balancing of needs of two very different children who are the exact same age. We have the pride of watching the smaller, younger twin teach her brother simple life skills like brushing teeth and holding a fork. We have five year olds still getting pushed in swings designed for babies. We have five year olds still in nappies.

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Yes things could have been so different.

But then we would never learn to celebrate the simple, everyday events. We would take for granted the wonderful moments in time when they break through all their challenges and play together. We would never experience pride in seeing them achieve things that other children achieve easily. We would never have met some truly inspirational and encouraging people walking similar journeys. And we would never have compassion for others like we do now.

‘What if’ will always be there but it is better to let go, mourn and release the fear and embrace the ‘what is’ of all the wonderful things your child is. All children achieve. All children develop. And all children love. All children bring joy.

Things could have been different maybe, but things are wonderful just the way they are.

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Life can be funny at times…

My twins both have autism, although at very much opposite ends of the spectrum. But most of all they are two very unique individual children who keep my life interesting and give me so much laughter.

Here are some of the funny and ironic things about my family:

1. I actually told the non verbal child to be quiet today.

2. Yes, the non verbal child is almost always WAY noisier than the very verbal one.

3. My daughter suffers from chronic constipation and needs daily meds but we really struggle to get her to drink them. Her twin brother could poo for Britain but would happy drink her medicated juice! (I will leave the results of that one to your imagination)

4. The child who makes the most mess is also the one who is terrified of the vacuum cleaner. The one who is spotess would help me clean all day.

5. The child who hates sweets loves brushing her teeth. Her brother who would live on chocolate goes crazy at even the sight of a toothbrush.

6. The child who has a mobility pushchair often screams to get out of it, while the one who is walking often cries to get in the buggy. It is not an option to just swap them over. 

7. The one who eats ANYTHING (including non food items) will strangely not touch crisps (potato chips) while his twin sister who is a very fussy eater would eat crisps until she turned into them.

8. The child who constantly wants outside to play HATES wearing socks and shoes but the one who wants to stay inside all the time will only ever walk about the house with socks and shoes on.

9. The underweight child keeps nagging me to eat and cook healthily, while the one who could do with losing a few pounds wants nothing better than a fry up.

10. It doesn’t matter how long you have never looked at or played with a toy, if the other child wants it it suddenly becomes your favourite.

11. When a t-shirt fits comfortably you refuse to wear it but suddenly when it is now too small for you you want to wear it all the time.

12. They refuse to eat a certain food until gran makes it and then all of a sudden it becomes your new favourite food.

13. You finally get the kids to stop wearing coats after 4 weeks of solid sunshine and warm temperatures, then when they suddenly ‘get it’ it starts to rain.

14. The Doctor doesn’t want your child missing school so makes the next appointment in term time, in school hours on a school day.

15. Your child finally moves up a nappy size just when the next two months delivery arrives…in the smalller size!

16. You can get grant funding for toys for the child who refuses to play with toys, but there is no funding available for the child who would really enjoy and play with toys.

17. The child with poor eyesight can miraculosly see a chocolate button from accross the room but struggles to see the spoon he has been given to eat his dinner with.

18. The child who can talk, knows her colours and numbers, can write basic numbers and understand the world around her is staying on at nursery but the child who has no speech, is still in nappies, has little understanding or awareness of the world and is locked in his own world is starting school.

19. The child who requires to have new school shoes is screaming because he doesn’t want them while the one who does not need them is screaming for you to buy her a pair.

20. The boy who never wants to go to bed to sleep would happily lie on his bed playing all day, whilst the child who loves to sleep refuses to set foot on her bed until bedtime.

21. The child who can recite books from memory and ‘read’ would rather listen to stories being told by others, whilst the one who can not tell one letter from the other willl not go to bed without taking a book and look through it like he can read.

22. The child who has been walking the longest is actually the slowest when walking.

23. The child whose picture and profile convinced so many to donate old mobile phones so he could get an ipad hardly even looks at it, and the twin whose existance most donators never even knew about, is addicted to the ipad.

24. The child who can draw, colour in and write a few numbers plays with pens and crayons less than the one who simply eats and chews them.

25. After 4 weeks of beautiful weather we finally book a caravan for a holiday…only for the weather forecast to predict a week of rain!

26. You call professsionals up to 4 times in one day but the minute you leave the house for 5 minutes you miss thier return call.

27. You stock up on thier favourite snacks only for them to suddenly go off them now.

28. The child who relies heavily on a dummy (pacifier) to go to sleep chews them and destroys them daily whilst the child who could now go without treasures hers for dear life.

29. The child with the longest, tuggiest hair is more than happy to get it washed but the child with barely any hair freaks at the very sight of shampoo.

30. You finally get the time to fit those blackout blinds…in the middle of winter!

and to end…

31. A few months ago I attended a course to help parents get thier children to sleep at night. But it was very poorly attended…as several parents said they were too tired to come!

 

It is good to laugh and even in the midst of daily tests a little look at the irony of life can put a smile on your face. You would hardly believe these two kids are related never mind twins.

And talking of twins…if I had money for everytime someone has asked me if my twins are identical I would be a very rich woman. They are a boy and a girl! I was even once asked if being twins meant they were related to each other! But the best one of all was the person who genuinely asked if being twins would make them uncle and aunts?

Life sure can be funny at times…

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