I’m sitting here on the couch, with my favorite chocolate-brown blanket and my laptop.
I’ve been thinking about this post off and on for days….I was hoping to sit here and share my wisdom on parenting the siblings of a child with Autism, but , I don’t want to come across as a guru because I am so far from being one it’s hysterically funny!
What I can do is share some of my personal experiences.
Going through the process of getting a diagnosis, therapies, etc is exhausting. I was constantly researching and pouring the majority of my energies into their sister. I was laser focused on anticipating her needs, Dr’s appointments, paperwork, exercises, everything Autism, all the time.
Her siblings ended up with what I had leftover. It was as bad as it reads and sounds. You can’t do much with leftover energy and time…especially when you’re trying to be a nurturing mother.
We were all cranky. I knew something had to change but I had no idea where to start. Occupational therapy started in the middle of all this and that made things worse for the siblings!
They wanted to do the fun things their big sister got to do. Why did we always have to go to appointments for her? What about them? Those were the questions and concerns coming from my young children and even though I knew there was a very good reason for the appointments and fun, those questions started to sting. They had valid points.
I mentioned in a previous post how the OT would include them when she could. If all three kids came to the appointment then we would grab lunch afterward. Sometimes we would do a $2 movie at cinema cafe, they got to go first when we read books at bedtime. If they wanted to try some yoga poses beside her then they did. Trips to the dollar store to grab a few toys or paint just because.
I know it’s highly unlikely to be able to give each child the same amount of attention. If I can make a trip to the store with one of them then I will…it’s nothing fancy, but it’s alone time with me and we make it fun.
I’ve played Mario games with Samuel on the WiiU and had a lot of fun! Mario Kart is so different from when I was a kid…when you move the remote, your person moves with it. He helped me get the hang of Mario 3D World and I loved it when I could be Cat Peach.
Ava would talk to me about Animal Jam and I would watch her play, help her with the best dressed game. She would tell me and show me about the tips and tricks she’s learned from watching videos on YouTube.
The fours of us will play board games or do puzzles together. Kiah loves for me to read to her or watch a movie with her after her brother and sister are sleeping.
Do the best you can in the moment. Raising a child on the spectrum is not easy, and it doesn’t matter where on the spectrum your child falls, it’s going to be challenging.
If your child is upset because his/her sibling is getting all of your attention, listen to them. Kids don’t need a lot of things….they need our love and presence.
They may not completely understand all of the terminology associated with having a sibling on the spectrum but they understand how they feel. I know my kids feel heard when I listen and validate their feelings. They don’t want to hear about why and how they should be more considerate and patient. They want to know their feelings matter, that I love them and will be here for them.
Some days I’ll get it right and we’ll have times throughout the day where I miss the mark and mess up.
I apologize and make a point to do better.
There are days when it’s easier for me to step outside of myself and be the mother they need, but I really struggle with it sometimes. Remembering how hard it can be for me at times helps me see how hard it can be for small/young children still learning to navigate the world.
You can read the rest of the posts in the Autism series here: