So here's an example of how not to handle a situation when there's autism in the family.
Sasha wanted to play outside on the trampoline for the first time this season, thanks to the lovely mild weather. As soon as I had cleared it up (yuk! those birds are Dirty!), we jumped on and she decided we would play schools. As in, she is the teacher, and therefore tells you what to do.
I played along, of course, not really an option to say no. She was very creative, called herself Mrs Wimpledimple like the teacher in her Splat the Cat book (one of the few non-Dora books she has ever enjoyed). She decided we would bounce to the phonics song, and she just about managed not to get upset when I pointed out I didn't know what it was. She 'taught' me, and we had fun.
Then Tamsin comes outside to join us and clambers up. We play a little bit together, but of course all Tamsin really wants to do is bounce on the trampoline, not follow instructions like she's done so well all day at school. I realise this, but also know that Sasha is not done with her role playing, and I have a blocked pipe to fix in the kitchen. So I leave them to it, but have a quiet word with Tamsin as I go, asking if she could be really good and play along with Sasha for a while.
I'm inside for about 5 minutes before there is huge crying coming from the trampoline. Tamsin has taken something Sasha wants her to do (jumping and counting to one hundred), but twisted it so that she is now doing it to her rules rather than what Sasha wants. This causes Sasha to scream for me and throw herself down on the trampoline.
Of course this makes Tamsin upset too, so I'm then faced with two screaming girls. As Sasha had wanted to go on the trampoline first, I asked Tamsin to come inside so that Sasha could be alone (which she didn't really want, she just wanted someone to follow her instructions), and they could switch over later on. Tamsin was less than happy with this suggestion, and I had to carry her off. That of course was unfair, because 'Sasha always gets what she wants'. That of course isn't totally true, but it is true that we do often amend our ways to do things that suit Sasha.
The trampoline has been a great purchase, and has provided the girls with hours of fun together.
Some days though, it just doesn't work. Those times we have to work really hard at Sasha taking turns, and then it seems a real shame that they can't just be happy together.
In this instance, neither girl was really being naughty, they were both just wanting to do their own thing. Sasha being so bossy probably drove Tamsin to 'do her own thing' even more than usual, and I can't really blame her for that.
I feel guilty as we try not to expect Tamsin to change her behaviour to suit Sasha, but there are many times when life is made MUCH easier if she does. Sasha doesn't always get her own way, and we don't let her take over and run our lives. On the other hand, if she is having a tough time at school, like if the teacher has changed for a day, or her normal routine has been changed for a special occasion, we do notice Sasha's need to be more controlling at home coming out. Generally though, this is only over minor things such as people playing the games she wants, or letting her have her choice of television programme etc. So we do compromise, but in doing so we are obviously affecting Tamsin's 'normal' behaviour. At the same time, I do know that Tamsin would also be more stressed if we left Sasha to get upset more often.