Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Calling All Siblings

So much time is spent trying to understand and help our autistic children.  And rightfully so.  They're road is not an easy one.  But, for Just one moment, I'd like to step away from needs of my autistic child and focus on the needs of his brother and sister.  Today, I would love -- and need -- the perspective of siblings. 

I have four equality beautiful, yet uniquely different children.  Two have special needs.  Part of me hates that description because to be honest -- all children have special needs.  But back to my point -- I have one child with Asperger's Syndrome/Bipolar and another with Bipolar/ADHD.

To say our home life is chaotic would be an understatement.  Much time and attention is devoted to keeping the two calm and on an even keel.  This leaves the other two, especially my oldest, feeling the void.

Now, we try out best to take time out to spend individual time with each child.  We've explained the differences in our family, and the fact that fair is not always equal.  But still, I see so much anger, so much resentment building in my teenager.  And this affects not only her interactions at home, but all aspects of her life.  She can be extremely kind and compassionate, but turn around and let loose her anger on anyone in her path.  Yes, I know some of this comes with her age, but there is so much more behind the normal teenage angst.

So I am calling out to siblings -- young, grown, etc.  I would love your perspective.  In your own experience, what worked, what didn't?  Are there things your parents did that helped you better understand your sibling/s? Did you resent the time spent with your sibling and if so, did you grow out of this?

While there is not nearly enough awareness and interventions available for those with autism, the same can be said for their brothers and sisters. I would like to think that growing up with a sister or brother with special needs can create an awareness, an understanding not found in others.  It can give people a greater level of compassion and empathy.  But this does not happen on its own.  So today, I would like to start the process of purposefully molding not just my complicated children, but all of them

I am the mother of four children -- a teenager, a toddler and tween twins. My twins both have their "issues", one with Asperger's Syndrome and Bipolar, the other with Bipolar and ADHD. This means our house is anything but quiet and reserved. I also write a blog, Raising Complicated Kids, that chronicles our experience with our not-so-average family.


  1. My oldest son, who is 8, is on the spectrum. My younger son is 6 and he is often angry. Seriously angry. He doesn't like that his older brother has autism, and that because of that his brother doesn't always act the way a "typical" older brother acts. I'm not sure there is a sure fire way to take care of it. I think recognizing their anger and their right to be angry helps. I'd really like to find a sibling support group for him, but I don't think our town has one. Does yours?

  2. I have heard of a few now and then, but my daughter won't go to one. As sad as it is to say, I think she wants to distance herself from all of it as much as she can.

  3. Great appeal- I may just link this post. I'll have something else up tomorrow on a weird aspect of sibling-hood that I discovered today but never expected, namely the caretaker child for the overwhelmed mom.

    Anyhow, Ivy- check out www.siblingsupport.org/ They have a lot of resources there, including support group locations, but also stuff you can access remotely. We are currently beginning to see the other side of the mountain of anger and behavior problems that one of my "regular" kids has been showing. I started a Sibshops group, but 6 may be a little young. I strongly believe in therapy, though- play therapy could work wonders here. You can also go yourself and get coaching.

  4. @ Staying Afloat. Thanks I'd never heard of this group before. It looks great. We're bringing our 6 year old to a psychologist at the end of the month to hopefully help with anger issues -- the Doc does do play therapy. Hopefully it will help.

  5. I have 4 children, ages 10, 8, and 2 year old twins. One of the twins has autism. The other children are typical. The love their brother with autism more than anyone in the world! They are very involved with their brother and his therapy and reinforcing his therapy in the natural environment. They know if they help him, he will improve and get better. They see it everyday, and are so happy as they see him grow. It has been a really good growing experience for the siblings, and they are so proud to have a brother healing. They have an amazing bond.

  6. i have an autistic older brother hes somewhere at the worst end of the spectrum he drives me up the wall hes 20 so the rest of you guys with younger kids who have had the diagnosed early are lucky my parents tried to get him diagnosed through school when he was moved to a special school at the age of 11 but they said they didnt like to label the children hes living at home indefinetly at the moment and is pretty crazy so you lot are in for a bumpy ride if you dont get them looked after cant wait till uni ill be out of here quicker then a flash have fun

  7. We are aware of how hard it is for our youngest. With only 19 months between them they are close, sometimes too close. Boy 2 is almost on the gifted side (yes, has been tested), sadly this means he, at 10, deals with issues and emotions most siblings don't until around the 15-16 mark.

    We have him under the same psych as Boy 1 and are slowly wading through. It is something I have been very aware of since day dot, and always have tried to have one-on-one time for both. We even allow mental health days where only one of them has the day with one of us.


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