My two ASD kids are like chalk & cheese

My two eldest kids might both be on the autism spectrum but any similarity ends there.

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They are chalk and cheese. And these school holidays have highlighted just how different they really are.

Gilbert has relished being at home and not having to organise himself for school. He truly is a homebody and loves nothing more than being left alone to do his own thing.

Meanwhile, Matilda has missed the routine and social nature of school desperately. Not an hour goes by without an exclamation of “I’m bored!”, followed with, “What can I do?” and “I miss school!” thrown in for good measure.

Gilbert dislikes strangers, particularly unknown kids. He gets quite upset when I talk to someone he thinks I don’t know and asks in outrage, “Why are you talking to THAT stranger?”

In contrast, Matilda is very curious about new people and loves talking to anyone who will talk to her (especially adults). She has been known to hug virtual strangers on occasion in her excitement to meet someone new.

Gilbert has few friends but is loyal to those he has. He doesn’t make friends easily but when he does he seems to make a friend for life. He is also well-liked by his peers, although he seems completely unconcerned and unaware of this fact.

Whereas Matilda makes acquaintances easily but struggles to develop deep and lasting friendships. On play dates she usually doesn’t spend a lot of time with the kids she is supposed to be playing with, preferring to do her own thing and usually winding up with a new “friend” in the process.

Gilbert is a picky eater and would live off oven baked food for all eternity if he had his way. Vegetables are a definite no-no and it is virtually impossible to get him to try something new. On the rare occasions we try, a microscopic portion of the new food is lucky to touch the inside of his lip before being spat out in protest.

Matilda, on the other hand, loves eating pretty much anything. She is keen to try new things and rarely turns her nose up at what’s placed in front of her for dinner. She even loves her fruit and vegetables and is more likely to refuse junk food than healthy food.

Gilbert takes takes his time to settle for sleep but usually sleeps well through the night. He is an early riser and seems to operate just fine on a minimum amount of rest.

Matilda, however, struggles to get to sleep – it seems her worries and anxieties take hold the minute she stops being otherwise occupied. She often has nightmares and is a restless sleeper which results in big sleep-ins for her most mornings.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Their differences have been hard to manage these holidays as we battle to take their separate needs into account. For instance, going out anywhere has been a nightmare with one not wanting to leave the house while the other is busting to get away from home.

It’s a lose/lose situation. Regardless of the outcome, someone is going to be unhappy and we have to continually deal with the fallout. It’s quite frankly exhausting.

But, on the bright side, despite these differences both kids have actually played together on occasion these holidays (unheard of around these parts). It seems a shared interest in Lego Ninjago has brought them together – they have tolerated watching online episodes together and enjoy having the odd Ninjago “bout” on the trampoline.

There are still tears and tantrums (especially following the “bout” which involves them bouncing off each other) but at least they have found something in common, however small and brief it may prove to be.

Which is lovely to see because, in the end they are and always will be, as different as chalk and cheese.

How do your kids get along? Do you have opposites too?

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4 Responses

  1. Vicky says:

    I have three. The teen queen, nearly 17, 14yo son, and nearly 6yo son.

    The dynamics between the three of them are like the weather. Constantly changing! The teen queen appoints herself in the role of mother, much to son no.1 annoyance, so son no2 follows suit.

    There are times when the three of them are a joy to watch together. There are times when I wonder what the hell I’m doing…

    The eldest and the youngest and the most similar in temperament, and have a tendency towards dramatics. Nat, is the most laid back.

    It does make life interesting, that’s for sure!!!
    Vicky recently posted..any fool can make a baby…

    • Kirsty says:

      Interesting is one way to describe it, Vicky! The dynamics in our house when you factor in our 2 yo are also interesting. While Gilbert and Matilda have trouble getting on, they both love Delilah and each have a special relationship with her. I just wish they’d get on with each other a little more than they do now…

  2. Marita says:

    I hear you, my girls are so very different from each other. These school holidays I booked them into the school holiday program that their school was offering, but on different days.

    Both days Annie went they had fun activities to do and an outing to the movies. While the days Heidi went they stayed at school and played quiet games, there was also less children those days.

    It meant I got one on one time with both the girls also which is essential. Although summer holidays I might book them in separate days one week and then the same day on the following week so I get a little break too.
    Marita recently posted..A day in the life of Stuff With Thing

    • Kirsty says:

      I wish I could send Gilbert to OOSH or to vacation care but he would struggle and has objected every time we’ve looked into it. Matilda, on the other hand, would love it and has enjoyed the odd day of care in the past. Chalk & Cheese…

      So pleased to hear that both your girls enjoy their time there and that the program seems to cater for the different needs of kids – that is wonderful. Fingers crossed you can get a break too in the next school holidays!

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