If all goes well, courtesy of their father and step-mother, the boys will be the big brothers to twin sisters early in the fall. The other day, Ace was talking about it and said “I hope the twins don’t get autism.”
I understood that he probably had a good reason for what he said but I didn’t like that he said it in front of Jay and explained to him that we never want Jay to feel as though something is wrong with him or that we don’t love him for exactly who he is.
It gave me the idea though that I wanted to interview Ace. I wanted to give him a chance to talk without feeling the need to sugar coat or censor anything. Our interview is posted below (with his permission) as well as a couple of notes by me. His answers are in bold and my notes are in small print. (If the formatting acts right. It’s looking weird on my screen.) Also, I selected the punctuation to try and reflect the way he spoke as accurately as possible.
What’s your name and how old are you?
*Ace. I’m 10 years old.
What’s your brothers name and how old is he?
Jay and he’s 9.
What kind of things do you do for fun?
I’ve never been an interviewer before.
Interviewee. Remember there are no wrong or right answers. I want you to be completely honest. OK? So, now, what kind of things do you do for fun?
Sometimes I watch videos or play video games. I also like to build Legos and on occasion, I read for fun.
(I love that he said “on occasion”. It sounded so grown up. )
What kind of things does your brother do for fun?
He likes to watch videos. Right now, mostly Garfield episodes and then he makes them in book form. He also plays Roblox.
What do you guys enjoy doing together?
We play with Legos or other toys. Like animal toys. And we act out our own stories.
What have you taught your brother?
That’s a hard one. I can’t really think of anything. I did help him to get better at speaking. Like, I correct his language when he says things the wrong way.
What has your brother taught you?
He tried to help me to get better at drawing but I’m just horrible.
What kinds of things are hard to do with your brother and why do you think they are hard?
It’s hard for him to speak properly and to not get angry over silly things. It’s because he’s autistic and his brain has a hard time knowing what to get angry about and knowing how to focus on what to say and how to say it correctly.
What can you tell me about autism?
I know kids with autism are really smart but they have problems showing it. He’ll get better when he’s older. He’ll still have it but he’ll know how to control it.
Can you think of a time you felt really proud of your brother?
Yes actually! Whenever he tries new foods and when he completed his first book that he wrote I was really impressed. It was really good.
Also, when other kids compliment him and his drawing I feel really proud of him.
Does your brother ever embarrass or frustrate you? If yes, how do you handle it?
No. Well … kind of, sometimes. When he gets angry and other kids talk about him it’s kind of embarrassing. I don’t say anything. I try to ignore it. Now, it’s not so bad though and he gets over it really quick.
Is there anything your family hasn’t been able to do or it’s been harder because of your brother?
I can’t remember where we were going but he got angry and started making the trip miserable so we turned around and didn’t go. Also, sometimes we leave places early because he’s getting mad and making it miserable for everyone.
Do you feel like you get less attention than your brother?
No. I feel like we get equal amount.
Do you feel like you each get enough individual attention from your parents?
Yes. You do a good job. Don’t change a thing.
(That was nice to hear because it’s one of the things I have long worried about.)
Do you ever talk to your friends about having a brother with autism?
Yes. No mean things. But like when we are at camp and other kids talk about how it’s not fair that he gets better food than us so I tell them that he has a doctors note and I try to explain to them and defend him. Or if he’s throwing a tantrum and kids say something I tell them he’s autistic.
Do you have any friends that also have a brother or sister with autism?
No. One time after I was talking about Jay, one kid told me that I would get along well with his sister but I don’t know why he said that.
What can parents do to help siblings understand autism?
I think parents should be open and they should talk about things and explain why things are happening and what to do about it. Like in case you can help. Depending on the sibling I think they don’t mind helping.
How can parents encourage more positive interaction between their children?
I don’t know. I think we have a positive relationship.
How can parents deal with resentment and competition from siblings? Do you understand that question?
Yes, I understand but I don’t know. I don’t feel any of that.
If you put yourself in your brother’s shoes, what do you think he would say about you?
That’s a hard one. I think he would understand how I feel and he would try to help me as well. He would say I’m a good brother even though I am only nice sometimes.
Do you worry about what will happen to your brother when you guys get older?
No. Not really. I believe in him.
(I LOVED the words “I believe in him”).
Do you think he will become your responsibility and you will have to take care of him when he’s older?
No. I think he will get a job and be able to live in his own house.
What’s the best thing about having Jay as a brother?
I’m not saying there’s no best thing.
He is easy to tease and to have fun with. Like, I can show him what to do and he will do it.
What’s the hardest thing about having Jay as a brother?
Dealing with his anger issues. For sure.
What are the best and worst things about having you as a brother?
Having a brother who respects him. But having a brother who bosses him around. Like, I will tell him “take your feet off the chair” and like that. I talk to him like he’s only 5 years old and I will do the counting thing like “One, two … “ when he’s not doing what he’s supposed to do.
Is there anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t asked you?
You only asked me about autism. I want to say that having ADHD is hard. I get distracted easily and sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep and I fall asleep late but then I am tired the next day.
Is there anything else we can do to help you that we are not already doing?
No. I feel like you know it’s hard and you understand what it feels like for me. We have a lot of fun and even when you are hard on me I understand why even if I don’t like it.
Anything else you’d like to say? Would it be ok if I interviewed you again some other time? Maybe in another year or so?
Oh yes!!! Maybe you can interview me and ask me what it’s like to have twin sisters.
*Both of us laughing*
Sounds like a plan. Thank you for doing this.