I believe my BIL has special needs. It has never been addressed although he's in his 30s, and his parents (whom he lives with) are in denial about it. He had a neurological illness years ago and I think it made him just different. He does not seem to have the ability to read any social cues, interact in a spontaneous way, or make or maintain relationships. (He pretty much stays in his room alone all day, and WAH from there, no friends, only interacts with his parents and my DH, and that is often reluctant.) He also has a lot of physical tics, like flicking his wrists and arms, coughing, moving his neck and shoulders oddly. His parents being in denial & making excuses for him means he is unaware that what he does is not common practice. Everyone who comes in contact with him (like at our birthdays) asks me if he is special, so it's pretty obvious to most people I think.
The problem is that my kids do like him and get excited when he does come over. He does seem to enjoy them, he sits on the couch and watches them and seems amused. DH & I want to foster some kind of relationship with our kids, & think it's good for him to have practice being around people anyway. Unfortunately, he has no idea of how to connect or interact with them. For example, DD showed him something he bought her for Christmas and was telling him how much she loved it and look she drew a picture of it and named it and etc etc---and his reaction was to stare at her for a minute, then turn to me and say "My mom said to say hi." The kids are old enough that it does hurt their feelings now. DD was just not sure what to make of that and kept trying to show him her stuff, and finally he said, "Oh....kaaaaay...." in a weird way, like he didn't understand what she was doing. It's very difficult to know how to react and I feel a little off-balance talking to him. I usually ignore the oddness and try to stay kind and encouraging, but how do you explain that to a kid?
I'm looking for any kind of of suggestions on how to help him learn to interact with my kids? Or to help the kids interact with him better?
Also, I'd love any suggestions on ways to explain to the kids (ages 4 and 2) that their uncle acts and says things differently. My kids are very sensitive and I'd like to start teaching at least my preschooler about how to handle his rudeness. I haven't figured out how to word it yet!
If you have a SN adult in your family, how did you explain it to your children?