those poor artists

A friend wrote to me yesterday to ask my advice. She recently made the decision to disclose her son’s disability to his sister and she was looking for any helpful hints I might have from my own experience.

I don’t think my advice was quite what she expected.

Just over a year and what feels like a lifetime ago, I had ‘the autism talk’ with Katie. It was not long before last year’s Autism Speaks Walk and it became obvious to me that we needed to address the issue with her.

As we sat over yet another game of Disney Princess kill me now not this again Monopoly, we chatted about some of her sister’s particular characteristics, behaviors and challenges and the fact that there happened to be a name for them collectively. We talked about what it meant to support her little sister (and other children like her) and why we believe so fully in supporting research and advocacy and awareness efforts. We talked about what it means to have autism, or, as I put it then, to be autistic.

Shortly thereafter, Katie began to make connections. A couple of days after our conversation,  Brooke got ‘stuck’ in a perseverative circle. Who knows what it was after all this time, but you know the routine. She repeated the same sentence for ten minutes straight. Katie  looked at me knowingly and said, “Mama, it’s OK. That’s because of her being artistic.”

I couldn’t help it; I laughed. And the poor kid looked so confused when I did. “What on earth is funny, Mama? This is serious! Brooke is artistic! We have to help her. And all those poor other kids who are artistic too. We need to help raise money for them.” She looked so earnest.

And I’m wondering, ‘Does she think we’re organizing a walk to buy paint brushes? Canvases? Easels? For all those poor artistic kids who need our help?

So, if you’re looking for help disclosing your child’s challenges to a sibling, I offer you the one word of advice that I offered to my friend.


9 thoughts on “those poor artists

  1. “artistic”…hee. it’s actually a pleasant word confusion.

    words that sound like “asperger’s”? not so much.

    it’d be nice to replace “asperger’s” with a word easy to confuse with…i don’t know. “stud” or “hottie disorder”…something alone those lines.

  2. Granted that person-first language is a subject of considerable debate…

    this does give me reason to smile that I told Rose that Joy “has autism”! 🙂

    (Owe you an e-mail… will get to it, I promise!)

  3. I can’t remember where, but I once read a story about a doctor who was working with a family for whom English was a second language. When she told them their son was autistic, they misheard her. “You can already tell he’s going to be an artist?” they asked in confusion.

    Yeah, enunciation is a good thing.

  4. On a related and much lighter note, a friend of my has a son in Kindergarten who came home from school one day and said, “My friend at school told us today that he just went to Disneyworld. When can we go to Disneyworld?” My friend gave him the reassuring but vague response “Someday, honey.” That Friday, when my friend picked her son up at school, his teacher brightly said, “Have a great trip next week.” My friend looked understandably confused. The teacher tried to clarify: “Sam has been telling us all week how excited he is to be going to Disneyworld on Sunday.” Whoops! Enunciate, indeed!

  5. This is adorable. 🙂 She sounds completely huggable and wonderful! (I found you via Mama Mara’s linkage!)

    Kia (Good Enough Mama)

  6. Pingback: when the floodgates open .. « a diary of a mom

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