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Old 04-11-2011, 02:10 PM
3,393 posts, read 4,011,117 times
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Every Spring my brother comes to visit with his three children for 4-5 days. His oldest son is 11 yrs old and he is a special needs child.

The middle child plays with my son all the time and the 11 yr old is usually left out, no matter how much we encourage them to play with him. Also, he prefers to spend time with himself, so efforts to get him to play with them are usually pointless.

Two years ago, one of my sisters visited at the same time with her daughter as well. A lot of her DS games were lost. There was a lot of drama when everyone was hunting around for them, and they were never found.

Last year, I started noticing drawers/cabinets in my bedroom and other rooms slightly open which I ALWAYS keep closed (it's one of my pet peeves ).

The 11 yr old doesn't seem to respect property as I found him playing on the floor with my IPhone without permission. He also sneaks food out of the kitchen and eats it secretly and steals his 4 yr old brother's toys.

This year, after they left, we noticed that one of the WII steering wheels is missing. We really suspect all of this is the 11 yr old, because he is always alone and always prowling around the house.

So, here are my questions. Is it possible that he isn't aware that he is doing something wrong? When the DS games were missing 2 yrs ago, I KNOW he heard us turning the house upside down looking for them.

Also, how do I approach this? Should I share my suspicions with my sister that he took the games? Should I ask my brother to look for the WII steering wheel? My husband doesn't want them to visit with him anymore, but I think that is overreacting. He said, "What if he steals cash next time, or jewelry?"
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:57 AM
Location: The Hall of Justice
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Ouch, that's a tough one. We just took a vacation in California, staying with one of my husband's sisters (our sons are the same age) and visiting his other sister for a couple days. The other sister's son is light-fingered, and a few prized Legos went missing immediately after we saw them, as well as a $35 DS game. We bought belated birthday gifts for that boy, and I know that particular game was on his list. And it magically went missing ... yeah, right.

Anyway, it's tough to approach any parent with an accusation, no matter how carefully crafted, that their kid swiped something. "Is it possible that it accidentally ended up in Tommy's bag?" "Could you please look around in case we accidentally left it there?" Everybody tiptoes around the suggestion that "Tommy" is a petty thief. And when Tommy is family, well, that's all the tougher.

My suggestions are these:

1. If the boy is self-sufficient enough to be left alone to wander around, he's aware enough to understand some rules. The next time you see them, gather the children and lay some ground rules. "My room is off-limits--what does off-limits mean?" "It means we can't go in." "Right. You can play in Jenny's room or here in the family room. That way we don't get toys everywhere." Or whatever. You have little kids in the mix, so it's OK to oversimplify. The boy's 11, so he goes to school and knows what rules are. He doesn't wander around in the girls' bathroom or rummage through the teacher's desk. Just state simply that A, B, and C are off-limits.

1a. I'd put away anything you think he might filch. Put it all in your room and lock the door if you can. Depending on your nephew's condition, he may or may not understand "right" and "wrong," but he does understand "yes" and "no," and the less temptation you give him the better.

1b. Like I said, lock the door if you can, or sit where you can keep an eye on the off-limit areas. If he heads that way: "Hey, buddy, where are you going? Do you need something to do?"

2. He's bored. The other kids don't want to play with him, and he might not want to play with them either. His parents might not have brought him something to occupy him, or he may be uninterested in that stuff. Does he like dinosaurs? Video games? Puzzles? Movies? Find out what absorbs him and get a few things together that he can sit and do. Or let him run around outside or play on a swingset. Idle hands ... you know.

Hope this helps!
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:03 PM
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What are his special needs? Is he unable to empathize? If you know he is coming can you manage a schedule that is a win-win situation for the kids? Are your relatives open with all the children and adults so everyone understands what special rules and boundaries need to be followed? We visit or have at our house each year our relatives with a moderate autistic child. Since we all understand his limitations we plan activities that work for all 5 kids. The boundaries and rules are made clear to all the kids and our one nephew usually has his schedule modified for him along with other modifications that the other kids know and understand because he thinks differently that the rest. Even though we do this it doesn't mean that there aren't situations that come up but we all support each other and work it out. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to make light of a stressful situation. It can be stressful but all the cousins have so much fun that it is worth the visit and hard work each time these are memories they will have forever. It would be sad to keep the cousins a part because of not planning for one of the children.
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