Susan's Blog

Friday, October 26, 2007

Love Rules

I am so much in love with the book Rules by Cynthia Lord. It is a children’s novel that deals with autism in the family, much like the wonderful Al Capone Does My Shirts, but this is contemporary, and told from a 12-year-old girl’s viewpoint, about her younger autistic brother. It is perfectly done, not heavy-handed, and is completely believable.

It is called “Rules” because both Catherine, the girl, and David, her brother, like rules to live by. Catherine records David’s rules, like “no toys in the fishtank,” or “some jokes are to make you laugh, but some jokes are for making fun of you.” She reminds him of his rules at times. It blows my mind to think of all the intricate social rules that neurotypical people make up and just kind of know, and what that must be like for autistic people. They, of course, have different rules. So David has rules that Catherine knows about, too, like, “When you don’t know the words, borrow somebody else’s.” This he does, when he needs calming or is tongue-tied, he dips into the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel, and uses dialog from there. It is very moving to read about David and Catherine exchanging this dialog and seeing the effect it has on each of them, that they understand the underlying meaning and that they care so much about each other.

I wish it felt like my boys cared more about Nat. Should I have forced more on them when they were younger, so that they would be in the habit of including him and interacting with him? Or would that have made them resent him? Or resent us?

I always felt that I wanted a natural, egalitarian family life, where no one person’s rights were more important than another’s. I did not want Nat to feel like an obligation to them, but he has not evolved into a pleasure to them doing it my way. Maybe obligation is better than oblivion. I know that I did not want an autism-centered house. Our house is mostly neurotypically-centered, because that is the majority here and in the world. But is that fair and right? Maybe it is, when love and respect are the central force. Hope so.


My 11 year old daughter actually bought this book on her own at her school book fair, she has loved it. Our son is 8 and is autistic. I think maybe it is a little different with girls, as far as showing concern. They sometimes tend to be little therapist Mothers, but they are very loving and protective. Our son has two older sisters and two younger sisters. Along with the autism he is also the only boy surrounded by girls…..
Sometimes it is hard to find balance, we just keep trying.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, October 26, 2007 at 11:36 pm

I think if it were not for Rachel being one of those kids who loves everyone, Charlie and Jon would just be two different planets in the solar system, but somehow Rachel brings them both together. That’s funny because she’s just three, but she sure is emotionally intuitive. Maybe it’s just a girl thing, I’m not sure, but I don’t think that kids are naturally friends to their siblings. Out of my first three kids, two of them never, ever get along. They can’t be in the same room together even now, when they are in their mid-twenties.

NT or autistic, there’s no telling about the sibling relationships or how they might turn out. And not a lot we can put into it to make them better. They just are what they are, I think.

— added by Mom on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 6:03 am

Susan, your post today reminds me of this article I read this morning about two brothers who had grown apart.

It’s worth a read and may give you hope about their relationship with each other.

Hugs xxxx

— added by Niksmom on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 12:48 pm

This book sounds very interesting. I will have to get it. I like the belly dancing pictures above.

— added by Marla on Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 10:52 pm

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