Monday, June 27, 2011

Our World of Autism - Expressing Love with Difficulties

We have a real difficult time in this area between siblings. My oldest child is a highly sensitive child. She thinks that everyone should cry things out together and hug to work out conflict. My youngest child does not like to do much of anything but apologize and forgive with words quickly. She is sincere in this and repentant but wants to move on. She does not see a benefit in hugging and crying. As you can imagine this set up for conflict resolution is extremely troubling for the two of them. It is a continual struggle in our house.

My youngest has aspergers syndrome. She does not like her sister to hug her what so ever. Only on very special occasions does she allow a hug. She will tolerate a hug for coming and going but that is it. The only exception she makes to this rule is for her parents to hug her. I think this is because we know the right pressure she needs for this. She is uncomfortable truly if the right pressure is not applied. In other words hugs can be painful.

However, her sister does not understand at all. She sees it as a further assault. The absence of a hug is what is painful to her. Oh how I wish I could get her to understand. The problem I hear with some other parents of autistic children is that at times they are even uncertain if their children with autism love them. This breaks my heart. It is hard to know I am sure when they do not hug or express emotion too deeply. But they do love.

Today this is what played out.  I have been teaching my oldest to see the signs of love her sister expresses. My oldest came to me for hugs. She was bawling because she was so upset. She really felt unloved by her sister. She cried for probably ten minutes. (It was a big blow up.) I held her and let her cry and talk it out and cry some more. My youngest runs to get her legos out and built a sign with them. It was her sister's name and a heart. She came in and marched around holding it up. It is her way of expressing love.

It was not enough because the oldest could not see this as love because it was not a hug. So the youngest girl goes out and builds this cool design and brings it in for her. Here sister I built this for you. Again, an attempt to show love. As I explained this concept to her she started to understand. She cried some more mourning the ability to be loved on by a sister the way she desires. As we calmed down and talked it through her sister came back yet again and started doing some crazy funny dance for us. She just desires for us to laugh. She does not want to see her sister cry yet a hug is too hard for her. A hug would have stopped this whole ordeal but it is one of those things that many kids with autism struggle with.

Love is shown differently with this condition. You just have to look for it. Know they are fiercely loyal and when you need someone to go to bat for you they will be there for you. It is just going to look different. It is the way their world works. I am praying we can all understand this and know how to best express love to one another.

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