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Discussion about temperament and discipline.
Current Issue of BDINews
Caring for the High Maintenance Child
By Kate Andersen.

Friendship. January, 2018.
Dear Kate:
I have 12-year old twins in special education who have completely opposite learning disabilities.....
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Kate's Answer

Dear Parent,

The situation with your twins is certainly interesting and educates us all about the origins of many individual differences. Unlike many parents, you have a lot of information about your youngsters, giving you a good appreciation of the basis of their different learning styles and personality traits. Unfortunately, being well-informed does not eliminate the problematic realities you are facing: the fact that your son is developing in different and in somewhat slower ways than his sister of the same age and the fact that his perceptions of what is going on are affected by his learning disabilities.

Reasoning with him is not likely to be very persuasive. Your modeling of your acceptance of him the way he is and your refusal to tolerate unkindness (such as bragging or teasing) between the siblings may be more important than trying to teach acceptance. I asked Dr. Sean McDevitt, Editorial Consultant for suggestions about dealing with twins who seem to be so different. This is what he told me: "It sounds like this youngster is feeling different and not accepted by others, and is acutely aware of the differences between himself and his sister as well as peers.

There is a general feeling amongst professionals that parents of twins can overemphasize the individuality of the two members of the pair. Though the differences they describe are real, they may not always matter. I would suggest trying to point out the similarities between the two twins so that this boy feels more 'connected' to his sister and the rest of the family. Emphasize what he can do well and reassure him that he will 'catch up' when nature is ready for that to happen. The timing of the physical changes in adolescence can range as early as 10-11 or as late as 16-17, but are thought to be almost entirely genetically controlled." Adolescence can be a challenging time for any youngster with a learning disability so don't overlook its impact on your daughter as well as your son, though she is likely to show her distress in her own unique way.

It might be helpful to realize that the differences in maturity would likely be present with twins of opposite genders even if your children had no other major differences. I am sure it must be hard - after all the work of raising twins from birth - to realize that your challenges are not over but may indeed be growing. Participating in a support group for parents of twins would likely be very reassuring and you might also learn some practical ways of coping from other families. Parents who have raised twins are often far better sources of ideas than professionals.

There is really not enough good research on raising twins and other multiples! You should also educate both of the children about the fact that their paths have diverged since birth and that the gap is likely to widen during puberty and adolescence. As Dr. McDevitt has suggested, it might be even more important to educate them about their similarities. If they don't seem interested in hearing about this topic from you (a common adolescent reaction!), separate counsellors of the same gender and who constitute a good fit with each child would be a good idea. Your emphasis on creating resiliency is wonderful.

Your unconditional love and support are essential components of resiliency. Developing and fostering a special talent in each child can also help. Working hard at establishing true friendships for each child (the topic of this newsletter) is important, too. We will deal with the topic of resiliency in future newsletters.

I hope this helps.

Best of luck,


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