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Monday, May 28, 2018

Reluctant Keepers of a Brother With Autism

Firstborns are often frustrated by the disruptions caused by a new sibling, but to an autistic child who craves structure and is sensitive to light and noise, the addition of two squalling infants is a catastrophe. Lunch was sometimes delayed for breast-feeding, this door sometimes had to be closed because the babies were finally napping, and mommy and daddy were often too exhausted to read the same three books at bedtime. 
Jeffrey’s frustration developed into tics, like fluttering his fingers in front of his eyes. He became increasingly hyperactive and angry, sometimes even dangerous: I once caught him pressing his hands against Grace’s face in an attempt to muffle the shrill sound of her crying. When the twins started crawling, Jeffrey kicked them if they got too close to his toys arranged on the floor in a pattern known only to him.