Sunday, January 21, 2018

TwirlyGirl, Sister of Autism

The package was soft, colorful and wrapped like candy. Amaze Girl held it to her cheek and squeezed.

"It's a TwirlyGirl dress!" I said. "A just because present."

Just because…you're kind, gentle and genuine, a patient, loving sister to your little brother with autism. Because you strive to overcome your own challenges even when you feel misunderstood and overlooked…

"These aren't ordinary dresses…Fairies sew them in the middle of the night. I pay (the fairies) in unicorn feathers…"
-Cynthia Jamin, CEO, http://www.TwirlyGirlShop.com

Amaze Girl untied the ribbons. She raised the wrapping high, admired its colors and texture. She waved it like a flag. And then? She saw the dress.

Markers, crayons, paint. Amaze Girl is focused on her project.

Wonder Boy collects Amaze Girl's shoes. He thrusts them at her, smudges her drawing.

"Hey!" Amaze Girl says. She pushes the shoes away.

Wonder Boy cries. He hits himself. He throws himself to the ground.

Using his talker, Wonder Boy practices, "Play with me, please." He looks Amaze Girl in the eye. "Play with me, please," he says.

Amaze Girl sighs. She drops her crayons and puts on her shoes.

It's tough to be a sibling of autism.

She was beside him at the breakfast table when he tantrummed because someone put eggs on his plate/there was a string on his sock/he wanted Daddy's hat. He moved her cup, silverware, book, ruined her toys. When he had strep throat and refused to take his medicine, she was expected to focus on homework while he thrashed and screamed in the next room. She paused her piano lesson to help with his therapy. At Wonder Boy's insistence, she watched The Robinsons movie - for the 400th time.

Just because…you're his comfort and balance as you do life together, shuttled between two divergent households. You're his best friend and constant companion; sometimes the only one who understands what he can't yet express...

The dynamics in my household while growing up were at times overwhelming.

Super Daddy makes time for one-one-one attention and just-the-two-of-us outings. But in the everyday, here-and-now? It often seems that it's all about him and never about her.

Her eyes darken and her mind fills with clouds. She steps into the mist, to the place she goes when she senses frustration and negativity. When she returns, Teacher is waiting.

"You're not trying," Teacher says. "Focus. Think. Sit still."

She stares out the window while her classmates attend to the lesson. She lashes out with a pencil, ruining her work and sometimes things too. She's kept in for recess, sent to the buddy room.

It's hard when people don't understand.

The dress was soft, the wide skirt a maelstrom of shimmering color. Amaze Girl twisted and the dress fluttered. She turned and the skirt danced, a whirling, swirling candy cane rainbow.

Amaze Girl raised her head and laughed.

Life has not dealt you an easy hand. But my sweet, darling granddaughter, this moment? It's just for you.

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