Guzin Kurun

@guzin-kurun | contributor
I'm a mom of 16-year-old twin boys with autism. We also have a youtube / amazon web series based on our autism journey with our boys, “Surprisingly Complicated”.
Guzin Kurun

Should I Take My Boys With Autism Trick-or-Treating on Halloween?

I remember picking out a Scooby Doo costume before Halloween for our twin boys right before their autism diagnosis. They loved playing with the cartoon stuffed animal, but they still weren’t verbal yet, so I assumed they would want to be a detective dog for the holiday. As a family, we were excited. I got those little plastic pumpkin candy buckets, bought the costumes at a party store and had them try on their costumes before the big day. Halloween came, and off we went down our block to the first decorated house. My husband and I held both our boys’ hands and walked up to the door and rang the bell. A sweet lady came out and walked toward us with candy, “Oh my, we have two Scoobys!”  She threw some candy in our buckets and went back into her house. That was it. The boys watched her go back in and close her door.  We thought it was pretty successful so we moved on. We were talking about how our boys will get the hang of this. They seemed to like that we were walking up into houses that we used to just walk by. Next house, the owner was already outside, so we received candy and moved to the next house. House number three had a stoop. So we walked up to it, rang the bell, but no one came to the door. We rang the door again, and waited, and decided to move on. But our boys didn’t understand there would be more candy at the next house. So they both dropped to the floor and started crying. By now, the boys seemed to understand that today was a day they wear felt outfits and get candy from neighbors on our block. We were creating a Halloween tradition for them. In hindsight, it makes me laugh as we had two weepy Scooby Doos in front of a neighbor’s house and we weren’t sure how to explain to our kids that we just move on. They were devastated, and at that moment, I felt a little defeated. This really wasn’t turning out to be as magical as I’d planned. So hubs and I scooped them up and went home. Maybe next year, we said. The next year, they were still nonverbal but were huge Thomas the Tank and Lightning McQueen fans, so naturally, I stood in that line at Party City with them and bought one costume of each of their heroes. We got dressed up on that big day, and off we went as a family. This year was a little different. By house number four, they were upset people weren’t letting them in their homes. We tried to explain to them that you just receive candy, say, “Thank you,” and move on. By house number six, both made a run for it inside our neighbor’s house, and when we caught up with them in the foyer, they both collapsed in a crying heap because they were used to going into a home after the door opened. I felt defeated standing in a casual neighbor’s house, but the homeowner was really sweet and we got way more candy than expected from that house. We scooped up our boys and headed home. So with that lesson learned, we practiced for next year. Sometimes, you only can stand at the door. Sometimes, people let you in. We did those things with family when we remembered to give the lesson. By the next year, our boys still couldn’t tell us what they wanted to be for Halloween. We thought, well, they like french fries and bananas, so if they could be anything, that’s what they would want to be dressed as.  I ordered the costumes online, got them all dressed up, and off we went. We hit every house without a problem and our twins had an awesome enough time to be tired and point toward our house to go home. It took three years, but I would say mission accomplished. Halloween will not be what you imagine in your head, or it may. You will never know unless you try. I knew in my heart they could tolerate the costumes, the walking, the waiting, and I wanted them to experience what other neighborhood children were experiencing on that day. But I went back and forth with my husband on whether it was “worth it” taking them. But three years in, they got the hang of it. It was joyful to watch them. My boys are 16 years old now. We don’t trick or treat anymore, but the early years are my fondest memories. The challenges and the little triumphs are totally worth it. I’m glad I bothered.

Guzin Kurun

Should I Take My Boys With Autism Trick-or-Treating on Halloween?

I remember picking out a Scooby Doo costume before Halloween for our twin boys right before their autism diagnosis. They loved playing with the cartoon stuffed animal, but they still weren’t verbal yet, so I assumed they would want to be a detective dog for the holiday. As a family, we were excited. I got those little plastic pumpkin candy buckets, bought the costumes at a party store and had them try on their costumes before the big day. Halloween came, and off we went down our block to the first decorated house. My husband and I held both our boys’ hands and walked up to the door and rang the bell. A sweet lady came out and walked toward us with candy, “Oh my, we have two Scoobys!”  She threw some candy in our buckets and went back into her house. That was it. The boys watched her go back in and close her door.  We thought it was pretty successful so we moved on. We were talking about how our boys will get the hang of this. They seemed to like that we were walking up into houses that we used to just walk by. Next house, the owner was already outside, so we received candy and moved to the next house. House number three had a stoop. So we walked up to it, rang the bell, but no one came to the door. We rang the door again, and waited, and decided to move on. But our boys didn’t understand there would be more candy at the next house. So they both dropped to the floor and started crying. By now, the boys seemed to understand that today was a day they wear felt outfits and get candy from neighbors on our block. We were creating a Halloween tradition for them. In hindsight, it makes me laugh as we had two weepy Scooby Doos in front of a neighbor’s house and we weren’t sure how to explain to our kids that we just move on. They were devastated, and at that moment, I felt a little defeated. This really wasn’t turning out to be as magical as I’d planned. So hubs and I scooped them up and went home. Maybe next year, we said. The next year, they were still nonverbal but were huge Thomas the Tank and Lightning McQueen fans, so naturally, I stood in that line at Party City with them and bought one costume of each of their heroes. We got dressed up on that big day, and off we went as a family. This year was a little different. By house number four, they were upset people weren’t letting them in their homes. We tried to explain to them that you just receive candy, say, “Thank you,” and move on. By house number six, both made a run for it inside our neighbor’s house, and when we caught up with them in the foyer, they both collapsed in a crying heap because they were used to going into a home after the door opened. I felt defeated standing in a casual neighbor’s house, but the homeowner was really sweet and we got way more candy than expected from that house. We scooped up our boys and headed home. So with that lesson learned, we practiced for next year. Sometimes, you only can stand at the door. Sometimes, people let you in. We did those things with family when we remembered to give the lesson. By the next year, our boys still couldn’t tell us what they wanted to be for Halloween. We thought, well, they like french fries and bananas, so if they could be anything, that’s what they would want to be dressed as.  I ordered the costumes online, got them all dressed up, and off we went. We hit every house without a problem and our twins had an awesome enough time to be tired and point toward our house to go home. It took three years, but I would say mission accomplished. Halloween will not be what you imagine in your head, or it may. You will never know unless you try. I knew in my heart they could tolerate the costumes, the walking, the waiting, and I wanted them to experience what other neighborhood children were experiencing on that day. But I went back and forth with my husband on whether it was “worth it” taking them. But three years in, they got the hang of it. It was joyful to watch them. My boys are 16 years old now. We don’t trick or treat anymore, but the early years are my fondest memories. The challenges and the little triumphs are totally worth it. I’m glad I bothered.

Guzin Kurun

Surprisingly Complicated: A Show About Autism

In 2003 our boys, Adem and Eren, were diagnosed at 15 months old with autism. At the time, we found very little information available to figure out what to do next. Our pediatrician told us there was no “silver bullet” to change things but he was receptive to helping us get what we needed with assessments and therapies. The young internet, at the time, had remedies: diet protocols, mud baths to remove the metals and toxicity from their systems that autistic individuals supposedly had, and tons of info on what teaching/learning method would make them more verbal and compliant. That’s all we had. We didn’t know anyone else who had autistic kids. That would have helped. Maybe it was a good thing we didn’t know too much. We did typical things with our boys. My husband and I just kept doing things that we would have done if they didn’t have a diagnosis. Dance lessons: ballet, tap (they hated their tap shoes), jazz. A playgroup for socializing. Sometimes they were receptive. Bowling they loved. Swimming was the jam! Learning to ride a bike took three minutes and was a complete joy to witness. Skiing? We put skis on them and pushed them down a bunny hill. Not a bad outcome. Do they like airplanes? How about a one hour flight from NY to Myrtle Beach on Jet Blue? We hear they serve corn chips, and the boys love corn chips. A shot in the dark every time. Always an adventure. A social worker came to our house as soon as they were diagnosed and wrote out a blue print I still follow today. Early intervention, find a school/program they can benefit from, measure progress, reassess, understand limitations, don’t aim too high or too low. We went with an ABA program, occupational therapy, speech therapy and one-on-one time with special education teachers that made home visits. Grade school and IEP’s were next. Can they tolerate a 15 minute lesson? Occupational therapy five times a week. They like deep pressure massage, speech therapy five times a week. Maybe they can learn sign language. Then middle school next. It’s endless — and we have yet to see what high school brings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. On of my kids is nonverbal, and one is emerging verbal. Both are extremely active boys with sensory issues. Sometimes they can follow some directions and sometimes they can’t. But Hubs and I shuffle along to figure out what they can and cannot do. We need to see the limitations for ourselves to be prepared for a next time. When they were younger, we were told we were patient, ‘crazy,’ saints, selfless. We kept the adventures to ourselves until we started meeting other parents with autistic kids. Some parents were doing the same. My favorite part of this journey has been meeting other families. There’s such a commonality and I’m comforted when a mother tells me she’s scared for when she is no longer here to take care of them, because I’m scared, too. Five years ago, I decided to write all our adventures down. I have a degree in video and journalism, and I have a story to tell. I wanted to create a sense of normalcy around the issue of parenting children with autism, and I wanted to do it through comedy. A sense of humor has kept our marriage together and has opened our family up to getting out and just trying things with our boys. I have created a scripted show called, “Surprisingly Complicated,” based on the reality of raising two boys with autism. Never thought we would get this far, but so glad we did it. “Surprisingly Complicated” is a lighthearted comedy about the everyday life and true experiences of raising my twin boys with autism. Our reality. The actors portraying my boys also have autism, I wouldn’t do it any other way, and those boys are incredible.In the early years of our diagnosis, all we needed was a safe place to tell us life would go on just a little bit different than planned. “Surprisingly Complicated” depicts daily situations we come across with our sons, such as going to get a haircut, going to the dentist and all the “quirks” our boys have shown us through the years. The idea behind the comedy show is to shed light on raising children with autism. I think autism is shown in the media as either savants having these brilliant talents, or it’s shown as a disability that is very dark. I think there’s a need for “Surprisingly Complicated,” because families like ours are not represented on television. My series helps normalize autism and represents that the day-to-day struggle is real, but you can still laugh. The point is it can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. All I can do as a parent is prepare them for our world on their terms. We’re their best advocates. You can watch it here: www.surprisinglycomplicated.com

Guzin Kurun

Surprisingly Complicated: A Show About Autism

In 2003 our boys, Adem and Eren, were diagnosed at 15 months old with autism. At the time, we found very little information available to figure out what to do next. Our pediatrician told us there was no “silver bullet” to change things but he was receptive to helping us get what we needed with assessments and therapies. The young internet, at the time, had remedies: diet protocols, mud baths to remove the metals and toxicity from their systems that autistic individuals supposedly had, and tons of info on what teaching/learning method would make them more verbal and compliant. That’s all we had. We didn’t know anyone else who had autistic kids. That would have helped. Maybe it was a good thing we didn’t know too much. We did typical things with our boys. My husband and I just kept doing things that we would have done if they didn’t have a diagnosis. Dance lessons: ballet, tap (they hated their tap shoes), jazz. A playgroup for socializing. Sometimes they were receptive. Bowling they loved. Swimming was the jam! Learning to ride a bike took three minutes and was a complete joy to witness. Skiing? We put skis on them and pushed them down a bunny hill. Not a bad outcome. Do they like airplanes? How about a one hour flight from NY to Myrtle Beach on Jet Blue? We hear they serve corn chips, and the boys love corn chips. A shot in the dark every time. Always an adventure. A social worker came to our house as soon as they were diagnosed and wrote out a blue print I still follow today. Early intervention, find a school/program they can benefit from, measure progress, reassess, understand limitations, don’t aim too high or too low. We went with an ABA program, occupational therapy, speech therapy and one-on-one time with special education teachers that made home visits. Grade school and IEP’s were next. Can they tolerate a 15 minute lesson? Occupational therapy five times a week. They like deep pressure massage, speech therapy five times a week. Maybe they can learn sign language. Then middle school next. It’s endless — and we have yet to see what high school brings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. On of my kids is nonverbal, and one is emerging verbal. Both are extremely active boys with sensory issues. Sometimes they can follow some directions and sometimes they can’t. But Hubs and I shuffle along to figure out what they can and cannot do. We need to see the limitations for ourselves to be prepared for a next time. When they were younger, we were told we were patient, ‘crazy,’ saints, selfless. We kept the adventures to ourselves until we started meeting other parents with autistic kids. Some parents were doing the same. My favorite part of this journey has been meeting other families. There’s such a commonality and I’m comforted when a mother tells me she’s scared for when she is no longer here to take care of them, because I’m scared, too. Five years ago, I decided to write all our adventures down. I have a degree in video and journalism, and I have a story to tell. I wanted to create a sense of normalcy around the issue of parenting children with autism, and I wanted to do it through comedy. A sense of humor has kept our marriage together and has opened our family up to getting out and just trying things with our boys. I have created a scripted show called, “Surprisingly Complicated,” based on the reality of raising two boys with autism. Never thought we would get this far, but so glad we did it. “Surprisingly Complicated” is a lighthearted comedy about the everyday life and true experiences of raising my twin boys with autism. Our reality. The actors portraying my boys also have autism, I wouldn’t do it any other way, and those boys are incredible.In the early years of our diagnosis, all we needed was a safe place to tell us life would go on just a little bit different than planned. “Surprisingly Complicated” depicts daily situations we come across with our sons, such as going to get a haircut, going to the dentist and all the “quirks” our boys have shown us through the years. The idea behind the comedy show is to shed light on raising children with autism. I think autism is shown in the media as either savants having these brilliant talents, or it’s shown as a disability that is very dark. I think there’s a need for “Surprisingly Complicated,” because families like ours are not represented on television. My series helps normalize autism and represents that the day-to-day struggle is real, but you can still laugh. The point is it can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. All I can do as a parent is prepare them for our world on their terms. We’re their best advocates. You can watch it here: www.surprisinglycomplicated.com