Asperger’s siblings. Heard enough about them yet? Well they’re still the often-overlooked piece of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) support puzzle.
So at the risk of repeating myself, and since, unfortunately, I’m familiar with this subject from personal experience, my campaign to make myself heard continues…
For those of you who know someone in an Asperger’s family and/or know someone who is struggling to understand Asperger’s, head on over to Amazon and download my FREE ebook (it’s short…20 pages) on Amazon today (4/20), tomorrow (4/21) and Monday (4/22).
IMPORTANT: Kindle-formatted ebooks CAN be read on other devices (laptops, desktops, other ereaders, smart phones, etc). Go to this Amazon page and download the software you need for your particular device:
I absolutely love the original “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” book written in 1899 by L. Frank Baum. I’ve read it and re-read it many times and I learn something new every time. I wove A LOT of Baum’s setting, characters, and underlying story line into my memoir “Fisheye.” I especially concentrated on chapter titles as I was integrating Baum’s metaphors into my own book.
I read Michael Patrick Hearn’s “The Annotated Wizard of Oz” book as I was writing my own. It was enormously helpful to me, both as a writer and as someone trying to make sense of their life. Not sure why Baum’s fairy tale is suddenly re-emerging, but I’m lovin’ it!
Here’s a link to NPR’s recent backseat book club event dedicated to Baum’s book. This NPR session interviews Hearn as an Oz authority. Have a listen:
I’m the younger sister of an older brother (by two years) who had undiagnosed Asperger’s while we were growing up (1960s and 1970s). My brother and I grew up with very unaware, self-involved parents. Short story…I spent years in therapy sorting through our family dynamics and learned so much about the kind of parental support needed to raise special needs kids and neurotypical siblings in a balanced home.
Here are pictures of my brother and me when we were young:
I’d like to share what I learned. I collaborated with my therapist and wrote a series of tips that will hopefully help parents and caregivers understand and support ASD siblings. My goal is to raise awareness of the need for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) sibling support (the often-overlooked piece of the ASD support puzzle).
Create Personal Space
Your Asperger’s sibling needs to feel entitled to their own belongings and their own private place in the world. This will hopefully reinforce the notion that they are a complete person separate from their role as an Asperger’s sibling.
Find a spot in your home that they can call their own. It doesn’t have to be big. It can even be as simple as a shelf or a drawer. Just something that is solely theirs. Make sure that both siblings understand the boundaries.
Explain That It’s Nobody’s Fault
Watch for hints that your Asperger’s sibling is blaming themselves for their sibling’s Asperger’s. If you suspect there is any doubt in their mind about the cause of Asperger’s, reiterate that it’s simply something people are born with and that it’s nobody’s fault. You can say this as a general statement; it doesn’t have to be in reaction to something else. Just say it out loud, more than once, and it will sink in eventually.
Share a Secret Code
Make it clear that they can come to you with questions and concerns any time. Take time out to tell them that you’re always willing and available to talk. Strategize a signal together that can be used to alert each other that something’s wrong when others are in the room. It could be either a specific word or gesture, just so long as you use it specifically for these situations. Sharing a “secret code” together will re-confirm to them that they’re not alone.
I hope these tips are helpful. There are more. They come from the heart. Would love feedback about whether or not they make sense for everyone.
Create an environment of compassion for differences in others. Try to model a positive perspective by always pointing out the constructive traits of having Asperger’s Syndrome (enthusiastic, conscientious, free of prejudice, honest) instead of dwelling on the negative. Here’s a link to fifty positive Asperger’s traits:
Children mimic their parents. The way that you view and project the attributes of your Asperger’s child can be an example of strength and resiliency for your family members. They will follow your lead.
Remember that your Asperger’s sibling will have to deal with many different people, personalities, and temperaments as they navigate their way through life. Learning compassion from your love and guidance will benefit them greatly.
One of the MANY lessons I learned from writing my memoir “Fisheye” is the importance of being aware of and supporting the needs of Asperger’s siblings. Soooo…I wrote
about it and published on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/c7hzjyt.
The full title is “Asperger’s Sibling Support: 15 Practical Tips for Parents/Caregivers.” It’s short (20 pages) and is intended to provide parents and caregivers with ideas and examples for “being there” for Asperger’s siblings (the often-overlooked piece in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) support puzzle).
Using the insight I learned from years of counseling about my relationship with my own brother, I provided step-by-step information about helping Asperger’s siblings deal with day-to-day challenges such as explaining Asperger’s behavior to others, understanding lopsided household rules, feeling loved and respected as an individual outside of their role as an Asperger’s sibling, and comprehending the unique advantages of living in an Asperger’s family.
I truly hope this handbook is helpful for those who find themselves needing information about how to help the siblings in an Aspergers family situation. I wish it had been
around when I was growing up…it would have saved me a lot of therapy hours.
Here’s an excerpt:
Tip #5. Justify Household Rules
You probably find yourself constantly explaining why the rules and expectations are different for different members of your household. For example, maybe your Asperger’s child gets to spend extra time on the computer and/or less time doing homework. Explain to your Asperger’s sibling why it’s happening. Explain that their brother/sister does homework with a special teacher at school and therefore doesn’t have as much to do at home.
This will hopefully dispel any claims of unfair treatment. If not, continue explaining that extra time on the computer might help their brother/sister develop skills needed to live as independently as possible, which could benefit the whole family. If you explain it as being an advantage for the entire family, that may allay any claims of favoritism. It will also help your Asperger’s sibling feel like you’re entrusting them with special information.
I decided to make my memoir, “Fisheye,” available for free on Amazon for the next three days (Sunday March 10, Monday March 11, and Tuesday March 12). You could
really help me kick off this freebie campaign by telling as many people as possible to go get their free copy at:
If you or someone you tell about this freebie doesn’t have a Kindle (Amazon’s ereader device), there is a free Kindle app that will let you read all ebooks formatted for
Kindle on any device (iPad, iPhone, Nook, etc.) You can get the app here:
My book has references to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz throughout. I thought this would be a perfect time to market “Fisheye” given the movie premiere of “Oz the Great
and Powerful” (James Franco and Mila Kunis).
Hope you enjoy the book! Here’s an excerpt…
Chapter 6. Wicked
I made an attempt to be cordial. “That picture is so cool. Where is that?” “That’s a map of the Bay Area. You know that’s where you are right, Trish?” “Of course I do!” Actually. No.
About a week ago, I listed a new Macbook for sale on Craigslist. I’d never used it and figured it’s a good time to sell.
Within a few days, I got what seemed like a legitimate inquiry. After a few emails back and forth about the condition of the laptop, and whether or not I had a PayPal account, I was hopeful (and convinced) that I’d found a buyer. All good. Then the potential buyer (a woman) disclosed that she was in Nigeria and needed for me to ship it to her and log the USPS shipment ID in PayPal as soon as I’d sent the laptop. After that, she said she’d distribute the funds to me via PayPal. I was still hopeful here, (I know, I know…duh Trish!) but the seeds of disbelief were starting to take root.
Our exchange took place on a Sunday evening around 7pm. She sent me more emails that looked legit. Now the emails were coming from a “email@example.com” email address verifying that our transaction was logged. The email address looked genuine. On a whim, I went to paypal.com to see if I could find any record of our transaction and found none. Nothing. Now my doubts were growing pretty strong. Then I started thinking back on everything she had told me and if it fit with someone who might be scamming me. For example, she needed to know the condition of the laptop because she had plans to sell it “new” to some unsuspecting Christmas shopper (again I know I know…duh Trish!), offered $25 more than I was asking to hook me, and she asked about my PayPal account to see if I was Internet savvy.
It was about now that my doubts fully kicked in and reality hit me square in the face…
I reread the emails she had sent from “firstname.lastname@example.org” that verified our transaction. The writing was pretty poor. The first paragraph was passable, but the next paragraph was full of unneeded commas, fragmented sentences, poor grammar and questionable word usage. I figured that if the emails were really from PayPal, someone would surely have at least proofread the content for typos. My doubts had now grown into total disbelief. I was embarrassed that I’d fallen for her ruse (good thing no one was around to witness my blush) and thankful that I hadn’t sent the laptop off to Nigeria.
I continued to get emails from her the following day (Monday) asking why I’d “gone silent” and wasn’t responding to her continued pleas to send the laptop to Nigeria. She persisted to claim that I’d be paid as soon as I registered the USPS shipping ID with PayPal. By the end of Monday, she was sending me accusatory messages saying she hoped I wasn’t “stealing from her” since she had already committed her funds to PayPal. I admit to a fleeting thought that maybe this was legit after all. But that idea passed after about 10 seconds and I ended up ignoring her emails. Eventually it stopped.
I can’t be the only one who can tell by the quality of the writing whether an Internet message is legitimate. In this case, I think my excitement at selling my laptop so quickly overrode my usual trepidation about poorly written correspondence. Whatever. I’m so glad I didn’t end up falling for it. Thank you writing!