Living with autism is difficult on families, and the uniqueness of autism makes each experience of living with autism different for each family. This family in particular has the added challenge of not just one child having autism; but two
It’s paint time in the Brewer household, something sisters Mia and Ava love to do at home. Ava is 5-years-old, Mia is almost 7. Both girls are autistic. But getting the diagnosis and digesting the diagnosis was very different between the two.
Ava and Mia’s Parents Lisa and Chad Brewer said, “Mia’s diagnosis was hard on us, it was really hard getting Mia’s diagnosis and we didn’t really talk about it or tell people. I mean we got right involved with early intervention but we wouldn’t say hi this is our daughter Mia and she has autism. With Ava, the diagnosis was almost a relief, I mean we knew, we knew long before we officially got her diagnosed.”
Mia is moderately autistic. Ava is on the other end of the spectrum: nonverbal and unable to communicate easily. It’s hard on the parents and big sister Mia.
“Mia’s really become aware that Ava’s 5 and Ava doesn’t play with her and doesn’t talk to her and you know she’s feeling sorry for herself, she has friends that have siblings younger or the same age and they play,” said Lisa.
Although Ava can’t communicate, her parents say she can handle crowds and noise, while Mia is social but tends to get over stimulated more easily. Between the two girls living with autism is not easy.
TAMC Dr. Renee Fournier said, “There’s no formula, and that’s the hard part and it’s a learning process every single day for parents to know what their child can handle what they can’t, what situations they can put them in.”
“I think Lisa sometimes feels bad about what’s going on and we’re not doing enough but I keep reminding her that we’re doing the best we can with the resources we have. Both our girls are very smart, Mia can show it, Ava can’t verbally but we see it. We do flash cards and we do some other things where she proves it she’s got it in there, we just got to help her get it out,” said Chad.
Ava’s challenges are greater than her sister Mia’s. Although their struggles may be different their sisterly love for each other is the same.
Mia is currently in the first grade at Pine Street Elementary, and Ava is in a Developmental pre-school called Circle of Learning. Raising a child with autism puts big demands on a family, and you can just imagine how much that is magnified when you have more than one child with the diagnosis.