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anyone out there with twins

(17 Posts)
Cheeka Fri 04-Mar-16 11:57:51

Or more specifically where one twin has ASD and the other is NT?
Really struggling with DTS. He has just turned 3, we suspect ASD. His older brother has ASD. His twin sister is NT. Finding it so hard to meet all their needs. DTS is super challenging. Screaming, tantrums, crying, pushing, biting. Speech delay. He was absolutely fine from 0-2, in fact he was the more engaging of the two. Soon as he reached 2yrs, it was like a switch was flipped. We thought it was terrible twos but it seems to be going on for ages, a year of challenging behaviours. SALT thought he had lots of positives and she didn't really think he was showing ASD but agreed with definite delays in speech play and comms. Our DS1 has ASD but is a much calmer personality. Just looking for tips on how to survive. Really doing my head in!! Also a little part of me is hoping that he will snap out of it, only because I was so convinced he was NT up till 2yrs. But now I'm increasingly sure he is on the spectrum. He's on the waiting list for assessment...

DigestiveBiscuit Fri 04-Mar-16 12:38:59

Yes, but I can't give you any magic words to help you. I too had an older sibling, then twins and one was disabled. There were numerous appointments with professionals about the disabled one, which was difficult with the other two in tow. I had to do speech therapy, OT and physio with the disabled one - the older sibling did not mind so much, as he was OK at school, had his own friends, etc. The NT twin still resents the fact, she did not get as much attention, even though we did our best for all three of them.

The only advice I can give is:

1. to take life one day at time; concentrate on getting through that day til bed-time
2. don't think/worry about the future too much, except where you have to make plans for school placements, etc
3. get the twins in bed at least half an hour before the older sibling, and spend half an hour with the sibling on activities of their choosing - quality time
4. look after yourself - don't bother about the house being spotless, so long as you don't all get food poisoning, etc. Spend an hour a day, doing things you enjoy (when they are all in bed, hopefully); and give yourself things you look forward to - like going out, even if its on your own with your friends, while DH looks after the children and vice versa; holidays, etc.
5. get the diagnoses for the ASD children - a label is a signpost to help, both in the education system and social care system (as in the children with disabilities teams, not child protection). It is always less stressful in the long run, to be pro-active than reactive in getting help for your child(ren) in the SEN system

At 17, after years of wondering about the NT twin, but not sure what her problems were, she too was diagnosed with a specific learning difficulty because I took her privately to see a psychologist - although she achieved well academically at school, it was only because she and I worked 3 times harder on her homework!

zzzzz Fri 04-Mar-16 13:37:33

smile. Yes and our toddler years were busy!

twinkletoedelephant Fri 04-Mar-16 21:11:26

Yep. Older dd waiting for ASD DX
Twins one severe ADHD one ASD..... Chalk and cheese. Not helped by the fact they don't like each other.

I am hoping things will improve one day

Just make it through till bedtime....attempt to sleep and repeat :-)

knittingwithnettles Fri 04-Mar-16 21:38:27

Yes, me too. Older son with dyspraxia, boy girl twins, boy with HFA. Tbh he was no trouble till he was about 8, just a bit of a character. She was much more stroppy, but we now think she was reacting to the fact that we gave her twin brother so much attention, possibly because we adapted to his needs subconsciously.

Some toddlers are more highly strung, it doesn't necessarily translate that they are autistic. It can mean that they are sensitive, or frustrated, or need a lot of attention, or dislike certain aspects of family life (dd for instance hating walking and liked to be carried and would tantrum endlessly for that reason, her brothers had no issues with running around and walking long distances, yet they both have turned out to have social communication issues, she has none - loads of friends) Dd also was much less good academically compared to her brothers, learned to read much later, but she is way ahead of them both now, and ds2 has surprisingly turned out to be dyslexic (despite reading brilliantly at 5)

I suppose I am just saying that there are a variety of reasons why small children might act out and being a twin can aggravate a lot of the natural tensions that small children experience, less atttention, less time to talk to an adult, less patience on part of exhausted adult carer, more competition for toys.

Our twins played so well together as small children and also talked very well early on; to some extent being a twin can be stimulating and beneficial, but dd certainly missed out on a few things because she was a twin, and I think it affected her (although she is as I say NT) Ds2 on the other hand benefited enormously from having a twin sister to play with, in light of his social communication issues. He still has a gift for playign with younger children.

knittingwithnettles Fri 04-Mar-16 21:53:00

I woffled on, not really given you any suggestions for how to cope...sorry.

My advice with hindsight would be: encourage the bond by playing games that both enjoy rather than having a fixed idea of what children SHOULD be enjoying (for example ds2 with HFA didn't like any things with involved holding crayons or crafty stuff, very aversive to wet or sloppy textures,

And they were both extremely fussy about food (ie he hated mashed potatoes) I should have just accepted this and given them food they both liked not try and enforce more elaborate menus. Bread adn butter, apples, cheese portions, goujons of fish or chicken would have made life MUCH easier, instead I attempted shepherd's pie, casseroles, spaghetti with tomato sauce which was always the cause of scenes.

More little picnics where they could sit down and help themselves rather than being stuck in chairs, then disobeying me and getting down, throwing food around, jumping on tables...blush

Everything structured but very informal low key. Less things achieved in a day, reduce pressure on self to achieve anything with three small children, no pressure to host playdates, have organised clean and tidy house

Nevertheless reduce stress by hiding more toys, throwing toysin plastic buckets (which I should have then put away and rotated) Less sorting of toys. More active games, bouncing on cushions, singing dancing.

Book reading was very important in our house, that was a great help, very calming and stimulating and a chance to talk to both at same time. Ds2 loved listenign to stories.

A brio train set with no bridges to fall down!!!!

Mine loved talking to soft toys and pretending to be soft toy characters. Ds2 very attached to his special toy bears, and green beanie. Often a way of calming him to talk through issues with his animals.

Long baths for very fractious moments or afternoons, lots of splashing and perhaps bubbles. Hated showers.

Just do what you need to to get through day and never judge yourself by another person's standards, especially if they only have two kids the same age, rather than three, or just different circs. You can only cope your own way.

Also other grownups helped, I really missed out on adult help, made things so much better when just one other adult to diffuse and lessen panic!

So many times I looked back and thought what a hash I had made of looking after them so stressed and all over the place, but then someone once said, you walked down the street with your little ducklings following..and I just thought..I've done the best I could.

Cheeka Sat 05-Mar-16 03:11:38

thank you for all your kind replies! I'm just feeling really down because it's so hard at the moment. I'm also feeling really guilty because the boys are really addicted to their screens (kindles). My older DS was given free reign when the twins were babies because it was so hectic (they weren't the easiest of babies, lots of crying and screaming) so we let him use the ipad a lot and now DTS has picked up on the habit (We were given kindles for xmas by our in laws). when DTS is not on the kindle he's annoying his sister by rolling/sitting on her and very occasionally a very nasty bite just for the hell of it.
I do try to do little activities with them one on one but they vie for my attention and just end up squabbling and snatching whatever I'm attempting to do with the DC in question, such as painting, jigsaws etc. Luckily my twin daughter is not interested in screen so we read a lot of books and colour in.

May I ask what the inter twin relationship is like as they get older? My two don't get on at all. She tends to go off with my older son and they exclude poor DTS which frustrates him and he reacts by sabotaging their games.

knittingwithnettles Sat 05-Mar-16 10:38:39

When mine were that age we really had no screens except Cbeebies or films, Thomas videos. They played no computer games or leap pads. Now of course they are all addicts. We had a strict no telly in the morning rule and that seemed to work quite well, in that they really had to start playing together. I can see why your daughter would choose to play with your older son, because he is being more responsive to her. As my twins got older and the developmental divide seems to increase (round about 8 or 9) there was a lot of what you describe; ds2 tried to ruin dd's play with her other friends because he felt excluded by spitting, pushing, interrupting, runnign away with toys, making loud noises. It definitely was a social communicaton thing, he wanted desperately to be included but couldn't think how to do it except by complaining or destroying.

In our case the twins had a lot more time together because once ds1 was at nursery in the morning, they played together then, and when they were at nursery in the morning (term time I mean) he was at school in the afternoon (reception and year 1) Once everyone was in school a lot more of the problems you describe surfaced, everyone overloaded and everyone wanted one on one time with mum.

I encouraged nearly killed myself organising quite a lot of little playdates with a very limited circle of people so each twin had time away from the other to make friendships - that made a bit of time for one on one occasionally. Obviously more difficult with ds2 but he did have a very few friends who enjoyed his company and appreciated him. dd had a best friend in whose house she spent quite a lot of time (I was friend with mother) from age of 2.5. Trying to take all three somewhere was pretty much a nightmare, I don't think that worked at all, from the friendship point of view.

Back to encouraging the bond between twins. I think it comes from playing together over something both could enjoy, and gross motor play (sorry jargon) really was much easier to organise - so back to jumping, drama, hide and seek, house with cushions and tablecloths, than games where one spoilt or spilt or whacked someone else with the wrong toy. Board games needed a lot of patience, but simple ones did work if you stuck at it.

The more you involve yourself in their play at this stage the better, it is really worth it to do less housework and other organisational stuff now, because it will pay off in the time you have free when they play nicely with each other. So beans on toast, ready meals, unironed clothes, hide possessions, limit choice in clothing, hoover centre of rooms, anything really to make more time when you are overstretched.

knittingwithnettles Sat 05-Mar-16 10:47:21

I mean now that they are 13 and have mobiles and ipads (relaxing of screen time started about 8 years old) they are addicts!!! If I had given them screens earlier I am sure they would have wanted to do nothing else, just a warning that you can manage screen time at this age, less so later. It is a habit that can be managed when they are little, but children with ASD seem to find it much easier to get hooked and crave nothing else. I can remember being shocked when ds1 went round to someone's house and refused to play just wanted to see a Mr Men video. I think it is just so much easier for them to deal with a screen than a real live person, but I think you have to try and push to some extent the possibility that real life interaction is satisfying too. Real life interaction requires some practice, as does entertaining yourself, - the more screens the less chance you get to practice.

knittingwithnettles Sat 05-Mar-16 10:53:43

We did lots of games like Musical bumps, and rolling around on the floor. This seemed to suit ds2 a lot who loved sitting and rolling on people!!

Looking back we did so little what I might call imaginative play of the sort involving Playmobil or Sylvanians or dollshouses, and I suspect it was because it really didn't suit the HFA twin at all, who needed a constant sensory workout. We didnt even do much of the sort of play which involved dressing and undressing dolls colouring, painting playdough stickign and gluing baking(they did that at nursery anyway) - I really don't think the boys could do that sort of stuff at all, so poor dd had to do running chasing, dressing up, making houses, pretending to be characters, or else trains and garages!!! No wonder she liked going to her friend's house....blush

OneInEight Sat 05-Mar-16 11:15:10

I have twins too but both of mine have an AS diagnosis and are now thirteen. Toddler years were quite hard work although we hadn't a clue they were on the ASD spectrum. Make things easy for yourself. We duplicated lots of toys and /or had toys with lots of pieces like duplo where they could play alongside each other.

They have a love-hate relationship although most of the time it seems as if hate wins so it has been a bit at times like world war three in the house. Neither have a great ability to compromise and despite the same diagnosis have different needs and you often feel you are stuck in the middle and whatever action you chose someone is going to have a meltdown in consequence.

One thing we find is that they react very much to each other's stress and I would recommend very much that when they get to school age they go to a school where they can be in separate classes to give them a bit of space from each other. We have gone to the extreme where one is in a specialist school and one is home educated which surprisingly seems to be working for us. I think it has taken us years to realise that just because they are twins we do not have to do the same for both.

knittingwithnettles Sat 05-Mar-16 22:15:43

We are finding the same thing One. Now that ds2 is home educated he gets on so much better with dd who is in school! At primary they were in different classrooms but I think dd was upset knowing that people thought her brother was "different" in the playground. It made her really quite angry for a while, she wanted to defend him but also resented him too. Her friends never criticised him though, it was her own feelings.

We always tried to let them follow their own interests quite early on, go to different birthday parties etc. They get on well nowadays, a bit of bickering but otherwise fine.

Cheeka Sun 06-Mar-16 00:10:52

Thank you for your suggestions, it's really made me reassess our activities. up to this point i've been trying in vain to get DS2 to engage with DD's interests, such as painting, play doh, puzzles. It always ends in tears because DS2 ends up throwing paint around or snatching DD's things. They love running around and chasing each other so maybe I can build upon those rough and tumble games. I do try to incorporate the SALT's suggestions for DS2 (special time, following his lead) but it's so difficult because DD likes to participate too and ends up taking over the activity. This really puts DS2 off and he ends up losing interest.

Re: screens, it's become such a problem for me. I remember the good old days when I used to feel guilty for letting DS1 watch 1 hr of Cbeebies in the morning! in hindsight I would have really restricted the use of screens. DS2 has a really obsessive streak, he will just keep going and going (screaming, pushing) until he gets what he wants. It's really draining and very intimidating if i'm being honest! and he's 3! He is a big boy for his age and very physical. I'm wondering whether the screens have contributed to his very short attention span, he cannot stayed focused for very long. We have an ikea unit with various groups of toys in each box and most days he just selects a box, tips the contents out, plays for 1-2 minutes and then moves to the next box, tipping it out. He seems to revel in creating chaos, he loves upending boxes of toys that come in various bits and making the contents come crashing down and mixing it all together. I've tried to reduce the volume of these boxes, ie. halving the number of duplo bricks but he loves mixing the duplo with train tracks, with the play food etc.

The twins have a love hate relationship too, mainly hate when at home! At nursery DD acts like a little mother, she used to really take care of him at nursery. The staff report to me that now DS2 has settled, she seems at a loss at what to do. He often abandons her when they get dropped off and she just stands there looking forlorn, bless her! The majority of the time at nursery, they do play together. In fact they pretty much ignore the other children. They don't have many friends, if at all.

But thank you for your replies. It's comforting to know that there are people who have been through this set up and survived!

knittingwithnettles Sun 06-Mar-16 10:50:08

we had the same problems with children tipping carefully sorted stuff out and not really playing with it except in a very random way. Tbh I spent more time tidying it than they spent playign with it, so I wonder whether in retrospect it might have been worth really limiting the number of toys on offer at any one time.

My twins attended a Montessori nursery which was highly structured. I think that suited them very well - I suspect a nursery with too much free play might have been less easy for Ds2.

Like your son, ds2 used to use toys in quite a random way, making trains out of everything including bricks tbh I think he would have been happy with a much limited selection of objects to play out these games with (and it certainly would have made me less stressed) Later on, he became extremely good at puzzles, but not at 3.

Ds2 liked everything to follow a very clear routine, and within that routine he liked a lot of freedom, if that makes sense, lots of time to do one activity and focus on it rather than jumping from task to task. Transitions or changes of routine were hard for him. He liked always to start the day in the same way traintrack and breakfast.

knittingwithnettles Sun 06-Mar-16 10:54:48

Perhaps your ds2 likes the sound of the bits/toys crashing - is there some equivalent sound that can be created with less mess and muddle. It is a sensory thing really to want to throw things up in the air and muddle them up, it is a challenge to find something which is a clean and pleasant equivalent - sand used to drive me mad. I'm sure there is something.

Cheeka Tue 08-Mar-16 00:42:33

we've recently discovered that magic sand stuff which is brilliant. They still chuck it around but at least it falls in clumps which makes it easier to clear!

bjkmummy Mon 14-Mar-16 16:04:39

you are describing my family! elder boy was dx at age 5 - twins are 2 years younger and are boy/girl twins.

boy twin would be dx eventually at around age 7 with asd and various other co morbids = he is by far the most challenging child. elder boy very passive and laid back and in the earlier years girl twin got on much better with older son.

now boy/girl twin get on much better - mine all secondary age now - 3 teenagers in the house this year god help me! my daughter was also diagnosed at age 11 with asd which came as a huge shock as I just didn't see it and would tell people how amazing her social skills were! now its crystal clear she also has ASD.

its been a roller coaster of a ride but all 3 kids individually are amazing and are doing well

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