The World Within: Life a roller coaster with twins



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Posted on December 29, 2009 at 4:58 PM

It's time for Kim Runge to get her teenagers ready for school. As any mom knows, it's not easy, especially for Kim, who must wake twin 13-year old boys, both diagnosed with autism.

"One thing about my boys, they are not big eaters in the morning, they're not," she said.

Kim's husband Richard works an early shift. He's already out the door.

So, it's up to Kim to manage the mornings - by herself.

In a household where life is a roller coaster, Kim tries to keep everything on track with a rigid routine.

Jon finishes breakfast first, then gets ready for school with the help of cue sheets stuck to the bathroom walls.

With Jon safely in the shower, it's Nathan's turn to rise and shine. He arrives at the kitchen table dressed and almost ready to go.

The clothes Nathan wears today come from the "Wednesday" bin in the bedroom he shares with his brother.

"Every Sunday after I do the laundry, I just fill the bins with their clothes.

There's one for each day of the week.

"And once they're done they take this off and then they know they need to go to the next one down," said Kim.

It's another time-saving technique that sometimes, not always, gives Kim a few quiet minutes to herself.

The extra time today also allows the twins to share with us their favorite things. Nathan likes to make robots out of Legos and other things he finds.

His parents keep pictures of all the creations that make him proud.

"I can't believe I made something out of that, nice," he said.

In his room, he shows us thousands of Legos and what they can become.

His twin brother, Jon, shares his passion, too, a love for the adventurous Indiana Jones.

He's got the hat, and just like his hero, an archaeological find.

In August, Jon discovered an arrow head on Mount Rainier that was officially acknowledged with a certificate.

It's an achievement that still brings him great joy.

"That makes me a real Indiana Jones," he said.

With the early morning gone, Jon and Kim head to the bus stop for a prompt pickup.

By 8 a.m. he'll be in class at a specialized school, while his brother gets tutoring at home.

The Runges stick to this morning routine as much as they can. It's essential for the boys and the family to cope with day to day life.

What would they like to tell other people about their children?

"It's complicated," said Kim.

"It's difficult to do certain things when their behavior is misperceived," said Richard.

"The lack of eye contact, they can be perceived as rude," said Kim.

"When there's a misunderstanding of the underlying reason of why they behave in a certain way, public escalations are a very scary thing," said Richard.