Though two separate beings, it is impossible to write about one without mentioning the other. Two sisters, spaced two years apart, so intertwined. Much like twins, they share their own secret language and are best friends or worst enemies.
Their relationship got off to a bit of a rocky start, with Kate throwing herself to the ground and screaming, "PUT BACK!" the second we brought Annie home from the hospital. Not bad for a toddler who was quite echolalic and did not have a whole lot of spontaneous language in her repertoire. After a few days of the screaming, curiosity set in. During Annie's first year of life, she was subjected to the constant poking and prodding of her older and not so gentle sister. Kate enjoyed poking Annie's eyes, pulling apart her toes, sniffing her, and Kate's favorite, laying on top of her. Fortunately, Annie was a content baby and tolerated, and was even amused, with these intrusions. When Annie reached toddlerhood, though, she started fighting back. No longer did she enjoy being man-handled constantly. So, Annie began hitting, or pulling Kate's hair, or knocking over the line of toys that could not be moved out of place for any reason. Annie became very in-tune to Kate and knew how to push her buttons, and she did. And when Kate's buttons are pushed, look out.
Needless to say, the first two years of having two children were very trying. Their relationship began to improve when Kate was 4 and Annie was 2. Therapists came to our home and included Annie in Kate's therapy sessions. They worked on social interaction, sharing, play skills, language development. At first, Kate resisted and tantrummed. Annie was a willing participant, eager to play and learn with her sister. Slowly, Kate's resistance subsided. She began to play next to Annie, and eventually, with her.
Kate is on the autism spectrum but is not shy. She is the first to greet her classmates and wave to strangers on the street. Maintaining conversations and sustaining social interactions are still difficult for her, but improving. Kate is passionate, strong-willed, fun-loving. She is active and uses all of her senses to experience life to the fullest. Annie is not on the autism spectrum. She can be shy, slow to warm, but once she is comfortable, becomes quite the little chatterbox. Annie is sweet, kind, and inquisitive. She is helpful and will stand up for herself when necessary. Both girls love playing on the playground, dressing up as princesses, and both girls have a quick smile and infectious laugh. They have become who they are because of each other. Two sisters, best friends.