Of all the chapters I will type for this story, this will probably be one of the hardest because Annie will be teaching the children about Abby and her special needs. I was going to have Annie teach them specifically about Asperger Syndrome (AS), but then someone (in one of my Yahoo Groups) reminded me that people didn't really know about AS until 1994. I'm just going to have her explain Abby as an individual and not AS in general. If you want to learn about AS, click here.

Chapter 2 ~ Learning About Abby AKA The Family Meeting

Later that day, Annie and Eric had almost completed the job of cleaning the kitchen. The Camden children were still upstairs, playing.

Annie spoke to Eric. "I'm not sure how to explain Abby's special needs to our children so they will understand her. I don't want anyone making fun of her or playing any mean tricks on her."

Eric nodded and looked at Annie. "Yeah, I understand. Matt might remember her. I don't know about Mary and Lucy and Simon is only three."

Annie looked nostalgically at the ceiling. "I remember baby sitting her when she was a baby and she was always trying to crawl in my lap and hug me. Now she does hug me ~ a lot." Annie smiled. "We always have so much fun together whenever I baby sit her."

Eric smiled at his wife. "Abby? Yeah, she really loves you."

Annie smiled at Eric. "Yeah, I guess we better call a family meeting, now that the kitchen is cleaned up."

Eric nodded. "Yeah."

Eric and Annie headed up stairs to find all of their children playing in the hallway.

Annie smiled at the children. "Children, we're going to have a family meeting. I need to talk with you about your cousin Abby."

Matt smiled. "Can we please keep the bowling pins set up so we can play after the meeting?"

Eric smiled at his son. "Yeah, that would be okay. Let's go to our room. We'll talk there."

All of the Camden children agreed. "Okay."

Everyone followed Annie into their bedroom and took a seat on Eric and Annie's bed.

Annie looked at her children. "Do you remember your cousin, Abby?"

Matt nodded. "Yeah."

Mary looked at her mother thoughtfully. "Yeah, but not very much."

Lucy thought for a moment. "I'm not sure..."

Annie looked around at her children. "Do you remember, at breakfast, how I told you that Abby has special needs?"

Mary looked at her mom. "Yeah. What kind of special needs?"

Annie looked at her children. "This is very hard for me to explain, but I'm going to try the best way I know how. Besides having some learning problems, Abby also has trouble with her social and communication skills and certain other things. Abby sometimes does and says some things that may seem weird or strange to most people and it's very hard for her to make friends."

Matt looked at his mother. "Do you want us to teach Abby some social skills? We can if you want."

Annie looked at her son. "No, Honey, I just want all of you to know about Abby and her special needs. She will turn ten in August, but sometimes she will seem a lot younger than she really is. Also, I don't want anyone making fun of her or playing any mean tricks on her. Your Uncle John tells me that the other children in their neighborhood aren't very nice to her."

Lucy looked at her mother. "I won't make fun of her or do anything bad."

Annie smiled at Lucy and then moved on with the conversation. "She has some neurological differences, so her brain doesn't process information the same way ours does ~ or as fast as ours. She's very sensitive to the way certain things feel, certain sounds, sights, tastes and smells."

Mary spoke up as she looked at her mother. "What kind of stuff is she sensitive to?" she asked.

Annie looked at her daughter. "One of the things she doesn't like, is the sound of a balloon popping. She's also very sensitive to high pitched sounds, bright lights, static shocks and things like that."

Lucy spoke up. "Does she like hugs?"

Annie smiled. "Yes, Honey. She loves to hug people ~ she hugs me a lot whenever I see her. Sometimes she has trouble with communication, so she may not always understand what someone is saying to her and sometimes it's hard for her to express herself so we can understand her. Other times she will understand, but it will take her a little longer to process what is said to her, so she may not respond right away."

Matt nodded. "Okay."

Annie smiled at Matt and then continued on. "Another thing you might notice is that she doesn't make eye contact when talking with people. I think her teacher at her special school was trying to teach her about that, but she didn't seem to feel comfortable with it so she didn't say anymore about it."

"Is she shy?" Lucy asked.

"She is when she's around some people, Honey. There's one more thing I need to tell you about Abby, and I think that's all. Abby doesn't like certain surprises." Annie replied.

Mary looked at her mother and asked "What kind of surprises?"

Annie gave another example. "Not very long ago, one of the times I was baby sitting her, we were getting ready for bed when the power went out. Everything went black and quiet and she screamed ~ it scared her because it happened so fast without warning and she didn't have time to process what just happened. Luckily, I was able to find my way in the dark and I walked over to her and hugged her so she wouldn't be scared anymore."

Lucy looked at her mother. "Why did the power go out?"

Annie smiled at her daughter. "I'm not sure, Honey. I think it was really windy that night."

Lucy grinned. "Oh ~ Okay."

Mary gave her mother a pleading look. "Can we please go and play, now?" she asked.

Annie nodded. "You can in a minute, Honey. I just wanted all of you to know about your cousin and not to pick on her or make fun of her or anything mean." Annie suddenly remembered one more thing. "She was also born with some hip problems, so she doesn't walk straight ~ I thought one of you might ask about that when you see her, so now you'll know. Does anyone have anymore questions?"

Lucy looked at her father. "Daddy, why are you so quiet?"

Matt nodded in agreement. "Yeah, whenever we have a family meeting, you're always the one who talks the most."

Eric looked around, trying to hold back a smile. "I let your mom do the talking this time since Abby's dad is her brother, so she knows her better than me."

Lucy nodded. "Oh ~ Okay."

Annie looked around at each of her children. "Does anyone have anymore questions or anything?" she asked.

Matt shook his head. "I can't think of any."

Mary agreed. "No." she said.

Lucy spoke up. "No."

Eric looked at his wife. "No. Just as long as all of you understand what your mom is telling you and to be nice to your cousin."

Lucy agreed. "Okay."

Matt agreed. "Okay. I won't do anything mean to her."

Mary nodded. "I won't be mean to her."

Annie smiled. "Okay, I guess you can all go play, now."

Matt, Mary, Lucy and Simon ran out of the room to play and Eric left to do some church business while Annie went to wash some sheets and blankets for Abby to use with her air mattress.


Some more notes:

As far as I know, hip problems aren't part of AS ~ I just added that as another thing she was born with (I was born with hip problems, too).

I hope I didn't make Annie sound mean or anything when she explained Abby and her special needs ~ some of it was hard for me to put into words.

I didn't give Simon any conversation parts because he's only three in this story, so I'm not sure what to type for him.

I probably could have done a little better at typing this chapter but I could always re~type it later and then replace it.


Chapter 3

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