by Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy, Ruckus Media Contributing Writer
Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a friend of mine and my hero in all things parenting, Sunday Stilwell. Sunday blogs at Adventures in Extreme Parenthoodabout raising two autistic boys while maintaining a sense of humor and (some amount of) sanity. She is the sort of parent you wish every special needs kid had. Hers are truly blessed…
Parenting The Trouble Brothers (Sam age 7 and Noah age 5) is very much like raising typical kids (or so I have been told) with one large exception.
My boys are autistic. Both fall on the severe end of the autism spectrum and while they share a diagnosis their similarities end there.
Sam is mostly verbal and can request an item he needs or wants. He adores loud music and is often found banging rhythmically on any object within his grasp. He especially loves the sound of metal or wood objects. Sam is my whiz kid. He taught himself to read at the age of 2 (which was long before he was talking) and at age 4 he taught himself to navigate the computer and locate his favorite websites and learning games.
Noah, on the other hand, can ask for a cookie or drink but is otherwise non-verbal. He spends much of his day scripting lines from his favorite TV shows and books out loud to himself and can entertain himself for hours at a time with his foam letters which he uses to spell words and phrases on his bedroom floor. Much of the time Noah appears to be in his own little world. I am thankful it appears to be a happy world for the most part.
However, the boys are not complete opposites. There is one item they both love with a fervent joy that is palpable…..Mommy’s iPhone,
I have had to resort to keeping my smart phone on top of the refrigerator behind the baby gate that restricts the boys entry into our kitchen in hope of merely slowing them down in their attempt to snatch it. Typically I can hear one (or both) of them trying to scale the baby gate and thwart their plans before they are successful.
However, at certain times the iPhone is theirs to enjoy. When we are waiting for the school bus the boys are allowed to play with the phone and choose the games or videos they want to watch. Recently both Trouble Brothers have developed a love for Ruckus Mobile Media Group’s digital storybooks. Both were enthralled with the first book, Pecos Bill, and Robin Williams’ humorous voice and antics. Sam especially loved replaying his favorite parts by a simple flick of the finger.
Just this week I downloaded ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas and instead of playing the boys the narrated version by Meryl Streep I recorded my own voice telling the story. Talk about making a HUGE difference in the boys’ attention span! Both looked at me when they heard the first words as if they were thinking, “How did Mommy get in that story?” I can’t tell you what a big deal that was to me. To see their faces and the recognition of my voice.
I have beautiful memories of my mother reading me stories when I was a child. Our favorites were The Velveteen Rabbit and Tikki Tikki Tembo (which I hope someday Ruckus will include as well!). In this day of digital immersion and our children spending more and more time at the computer, playing video games, or watching TV it is nice to know that a company like Ruckus has brought together the best of both worlds in a mobile app that keeps the love of storytelling alive.