Are my twins autistic?

Twin boys wearing overalls sitting on stairs
How can I tell if my twins are autistic?

If you are on this website, you may already be wondering if your twins are autistic. When you have twins, triplets or quadruplets, it’s natural to make comparisons between them. You may feel like you are constantly watching to see who does what first and what is delayed.  Additionally, multiples are often born early, so there may naturally be some delays to development. 

Before the age of three, it can be really hard to know what is a delay that they might outgrow. Autism is rarely diganosed before the age of two. But, here are signs to watch for that mean your twins might be autistic.

What should I look for?

One of the earliest signs of autism in toddlers is inconsistent or unexpected eye contact.  It is a myth that all autistic people avoid eye contact!  You may notice that your child doesn’t look you in the eyes when you speak to them. Studies have shown that autistic children and adults either miss the social cues that eye contact is meaningful to others. Additionally anxiety or stress may make it uncomfortable for some autistics. If one or both of your twins don’t make eye contact or look when you say their name, it might be an early sign of autism.

Delayed speech is frequently associated with an autism diagnosis. By 16 months your child should be using single words. Around age two, your child should be combining two words into sentences. When my triplets were little, I noticed wide gaps in their speech. My non-autistic children were speaking in short sentences, while my autistic son was still just saying single words. 

Another sign to watch for is repetitive behaviours. This means things such as hand flapping, spinning objects or rocking back and forth. As a baby and toddler, my autistic son was fascinated with spinning wheels and ceiling fans.  Most toddlers want things their own way! But if your child has a fixation on a particular object or activity and struggles to move on from it, this could be an early sign of autism.

Many autistic children have sensory issues, such as being sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures. They may also seek out certain sensory experiences, such as spinning or jumping.  This also can show up as restrictive diets. For example, only eating or drinking preferred items and avoiding certain food textures or smells all together. 

Autistic toddlers may struggle with social interactions and may not show interest in playing with other children. They might not engage in imaginative play or pretend play with toys or dolls.  Your child might ignore other children or choose to play on their own. They may have difficulty understanding social cues or respond unexpectedly to others’ emotions.  This can be especially challenging for parents of multiples, who from the moment of pregnancy dreamed about the special bond they envisioned for their children.

If I think it’s autism, what should I do?

If you are wondering if your twins are autistic, keep a list of your concerns and speak with their doctor.  Regardless of whether they end up getting an autism diagnosis or something else, getting the right support in place will help your child grow and develop.

If your twins are identical and one of them is autistic, they are more likely to both be autistic.  Researchers frequently study autistic twins to try to understand more.  This is not always the case though, and even if they are both autistic, their symptoms may be different.  Fraternal twins have just as much chance of being autistic as any other set of siblings. 

If your twins are autistic, it’s also important to know you are not alone!  This website and our community are full of parents with questions and experiences just like yours. Are your twins triplets or quads autistic? Share your stories in the comments below.  

British Airways first in UK awarded Autism Friendly Award

White British Airways airplane taking off runway

If the thought of travelling with autistic twins seems too much, British Airways may have just made things a little easier for you! In 2023, British Airways became the first UK airline to be awarded the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award. So what does that mean?

Autism Friendly Award

The Autism Friendly Award from the National Autistic Society is a significant recognition for organisations striving to create inclusive and supportive environments for autistic people. By meeting the award’s criteria, these organizations demonstrate their commitment to accessibility, staff training, effective communication, enhanced customer experiences, and continuous improvement. For the autistic community, this award signifies places where they can feel understood, respected, and welcomed.

Choosing British Airways

Once you’ve decided to travel with British Airways, there are lots of things you can do to help make your trip more enjoyable for autistic twins. Let the airline know about special needs requests at least 48 hours before your flight so they have enough time to get things ready for you. You might also want to create a social story or visual schedule to help break down each step of the travel process, from arriving at the airport to boarding the plane and landing at your destination.

At the airport

When you get to the airport, head straight to the British Airways Special Assistance desk. The staff there are helpful and will guide you through the check-in process. They can also assist with getting through security and onto the plane. Some airports have sensory rooms or quiet areas, perfect for relaxing before your flight. These spaces are designed for travelers with sensory sensitivities. When booking your flight, be sure to check if your airport offers these facilities.

Don’t forget to ask about Fast Track security, so you can skip the waiting and get through quicker. This can really help cut down on anxiety and make things smoother. This should also include assistance through customs or immigration too for international flights.

On the plane

Sometimes airlines will have you board first, or last. They may even ask you for your preference. That way you can get settled in the way that works best for you. Bring along your twins’ favourite comfort items, like noise-canceling headphones, toys, or a tablet with games and movies. The cabin crew are trained to help passengers with special needs, so don’t be shy about asking for any specific help.

British Airways offers a variety of meal options, including those for special dietary needs. If your twins specific food preferences or sensitivities, request your meal ahead of time. Don’t forget to pack some favourite snacks and gummies or sweets to help you get through take-off and landing.

Tips for a smooth journey

Bring communication cards or whatever else helps your twins express their needs. Your flight crew should be familiar with these cards. You might also use visual aids, like apps on a tablet, to help your twins understand what’s happening and what’s coming next.

Don’t forget to let the cabin crew know about any specific needs or behaviours that might come up during the flight. Your twins may not want to move, or they may want to wander around. They may be quiet or they may make nosies. Your flight crew are trained to handle a variety of situations and will help make your journey as comfortable as possible.

Get ready to go!

Traveling with an autistic twins can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a bit of preparation and the supportive services from British Airways, your trip can be smooth and enjoyable. Use their special assistance services, prepare in advance, and bring along tools like social stories and visual aids to help.

Have you travelled with British Airways? Share your comments and stories below.

How do I stop my autistic twins from hurting each other?

Boy laying his head on his arm and crying stop autistic twins hurting each other
How do I stop my autistic twins from hurting each other?

A frequent question we get in our community is how do I keep my autistic twins from hurting each other? This can be a particularly difficult situation. When you learned you were having twins, triplets or quadruplets, no doubt you dreamt about how they would be best friends for life.

Raising twins is a unique adventure, but when one or both children are autistic, the journey can come with additional complexities. This behavior can stem from various reasons like sensory overload, communication difficulties, or plain frustration. So, how can we create a safer home for our unique families?

Play detective with your autistic twins

One of the first things to consider when thinking about why your twins may be acting aggressive is understanding their developmental age. Generally, an autistic child may be more like a child who is 2-3 years younger than their chronological age is. So, if your 4 year old twins are autistic, they may only have the social and emotional development of 2 year olds and will need appropriate supervision. From that standpoint, you may find it is best to have either close supervision or some form of separation, such as one twin going with a friend or relative for the morning.

Next, try to understand what may be causing challenging behavior. Spend time observing closely to understand what triggers aggressive behavior. Are they fighting over the same toy? Does one child get overwhelmed by too much noise or light? By identifying these patterns, you can start to predict and prevent conflicts before they get out of control. Keeping a journal of these incidents can be incredibly helpful, allowing you to spot trends and modify routines or environments to reduce triggers.

Putting autistic twins needs first

For many autistic children, the world can be a barrage of overwhelming sensory experiences. Creating a sensory-friendly environment can help ease some of this stress. Simple changes can make a big difference such as noise-canceling headphones, weighted blankets, or fidget toys. Create a calm, clutter-free space where they can retreat when things get too much, such as . soft lighting and a reduction in loud, sudden noises. These adjustments can create a safe place where your twins feel more at ease.

Consistency is key for many autistic children, a predictable routine can offer a sense of security, reducing anxiety and the likelihood of aggression. Establishing a daily schedule and sticking to it as closely as possible can help. Visual schedules are particularly effective; they help your twins or triplets understand what to expect throughout the day, and preparing them in advance for any changes can ease transitions and reduce stress.

Communication difficulties can often lead to frustration and aggression. Helping your twins improve their communication skills can make a world of difference. Visual aids like picture exchange communication systems (PECS) or communication apps can be very useful, especially for non-verbal children. Encourage the use of simple words or signs to express needs and emotions, and practice social stories that teach appropriate ways to handle conflicts. The goal is to give your twins the tools to express themselves without resorting to physical actions.

Disagreements will happen, but teaching your twins or triplets how to resolve this peacefully can help prevent further escalation. Role-playing different scenarios can be a fun and effective way to practice this. Reinforce positive behavior with praise and rewards, and teach your twins to use words or signals to express their feelings instead of hitting or pushing. This not only helps in the moment, but also builds skills they’ll use throughout their lives.

One on one time for autistic twins

Twins, triplets or quadruplets can feel overwhelming, you are literally outnumbered! Competing for mom or dad’s attention can lead to fights. Ensuring that each child receives individual attention can help reduce jealousy and aggression. Spend one-on-one time with each child regularly, encourage them to pursue individual interests and hobbies, and celebrate their unique achievements. This validation can help them feel more secure and less inclined to fight for your attention.

If you’ve tried the above and things still aren’t getting better, you may want to reach out for more help. For example, behavioural therapists can develop personalised intervention plans, and occupational therapists can address sensory needs and develop coping strategies. Additionally, joining support groups like ours can provide invaluable insights and support from those who understand your journey.

Promoting empathy and understanding

Helping your children develop empathy can help stop your autistic twins from hurting each other and promote better relationships. (PS it’s a myth that autistic people are not empathetic!) Encourage them to express their feelings and listen to each other. Use stories or videos that teach empathy and understanding, and always praise them when they show kindness or consideration towards each other. These small steps can encourage a loving bond that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Preventing autistic twins, triplets or quadruplets from hurting each other requires a combination of understanding, environmental changes, skill-building, and sometimes professional support. Each child is unique, so be patient and flexible, trying different strategies until you find what works best for your each child and your family overall. Your efforts will not only help prevent conflicts but also nurture a supportive and loving relationship between your children.

What methods has your family used to stop autistic twins from hurting each other? Share your stories and comments below.

Should I have another child after autistic twins?

Man and woman with hands holding the woman's pregnant belly,  Should I have another child after autistic twins?
Should I have another child after autistic twins?

One question we hear often in our community is whether I should have another child after having autistic twins or triplets. Having a baby is well, having a baby!  We all go into pregnancy not knowing what the outcome is. It’s natural to have mixed feelings, ranging from excitement at the thought of a new baby to concerns about managing additional responsibilities. If you’re thinking about whether it is right to have another child, let’s look at a few ways this might affect your family.

Take time to reflect

Start by taking a good look at your current situation. Parenting autistic twins, triplets or quadruplets is a unique and demanding job. You might wonder if you are ready to add a baby into this mix. It’s important to consider how you are coping with the challenges now. Are you feeling emotionally and physically up to the task of a new baby, or does the idea feel overwhelming? Your support system is also very important to consider. Do you have family members or friends who can lend a hand? What about access to professional resources like therapists or support groups? Knowing you have a strong network can make the idea of a new baby less daunting.

Your personal readiness is a vital part of this decision. Reflect on your desire for another child. Is it something you deeply want, or are there lingering doubts? Think about how another child fits into your long-term vision for your family. Sometimes, talking through these feelings with a partner or a trusted friend can bring clarity.

Is autism hereditary?

Another thing to think about is the genetic aspect of autism – there’s a good chance that another child might also be neurodiverse. This shouldn’t discourage you, but it is something to consider. Genetics do play a significant role in autism, but instead of being caused by a single gene, it’s usually the result of a combination of genetic factors. Research involving twins and families has shown that if one child has autism, there’s a higher chance that their siblings might also be on the spectrum, suggesting a hereditary link.

Think about how a new sibling might impact your twins. Babies bring joy and change in equal measure. How might your twins react to shifts in their routine or sharing your attention with a new sibling? Some children thrive with a new baby brother or sister, while others might struggle with the transition. Consider ways to ease this process. You could involve your twins in the pregnancy and preparations, making them feel included and excited. However, it’s also crucial to prepare for potential challenges and think about strategies to manage any difficulties that arise.

Ultimately, deciding to have another child is a deeply personal journey. It’s about balancing your dreams with practical considerations and the unique dynamics of your family. Trust yourself and your instincts. You’ve navigated the complexities of parenting autistic twins, triplets or quadruplets, and whatever choice you make, you’ll find a way to make it work for your family.

Did you have another child after autistic twins, or are considering it? Share your stories below.