Saturday, April 07, 2007

Kalian's special brother...

Back in February, there was a fascinating piece published in the New York Times Magazine, "Her Autistic Brothers," by Olsson.

It's worth reading. In a nutshell, the piece looks at a teenage girl who has two slightly older twin brothers, who are autistic. It uses her as a case study to look at some recent research that shows that rather being a detriment, having siblings who are "special needs" can in some cases cause their brothers and sisters to become "supersiblings." That is, they become more advanced emotionally and developmentally.

The piece struck a chord. While it's too early to tell whether this is true of Kalian, it's been interesting to watch her rapid development, and how that may affect her relationship with Liam. Although she is only 21.5 months, she has mastered some things that Liam still struggles with, like holding a crayon with a tripod grasp, or her balance, which is phenomenal. We always try to avoid comparing, but can't help it sometimes. They both learned how to put on their jackets about the same time this year(the classic dip-and-flip).

Liam doesn't seem aware of this, or to resent it. Still, it can be difficult to watch at times. A couple days ago, I had to take Liam for a physical therapy evaluation at Cambridge Schools, to see if he qualifies for physical therapy. His skills were apparently all over the map (ie, throws a ball fine, can jump okay, can't stand on one leg, has trouble walking up stairs). Kalian was there, and of course, stood right up one leg while watching her brother try - and fail - to do that same.

At home, Kalian has slowly taken the dominant role in their relationship. They play together a lot more. But she'll instigate things like trying to provoke Liam by hitting him and then running away, looking over her shoulder to see if he's chasing her and giggling. And she constantly gets Liam in trouble by doing things like throwing her food, or dropping her cup, which makes Liam laugh and which he then imitates.

Perhaps the sweetest element of their relationship at the moment, though, is that they've started sleeping together in the same bed. Kalian has simply abandoned her crib, now that she can escape. She demands to sleep in her brother's bed ("I wan Bubba's bed"...Yes, she calls him "Bubba.")