Sunday, April 10, 2016

Loving a Sibling with Special Needs.

With it being National Sibling Day, it needs to be mentioned that children who have siblings that require a little extra love and support need to recognized as well, just as much as the sibling who has special needs. It needs to be said that it can't be easy to be a sibling of that nature, but it is certainly rewarding.

I look at my eldest, who thankfully only has to navigate through the wonderful world of ADHD, become a protector to his younger siblings. It wasn't forced or suggested to him, but it was something that came naturally to him. Since the day he became a big brother, he has always had this sense being someone's champion. That mentality came when we brought him home a little sister. Here was this little baby, that he had no idea what to do with. When she came home from the hospital, he was almost two years old, but even then he was enthralled by her. He loved to read to her and have conversations with her, even though she would just look back at him wide eyed. As she began to grow, he was the reason she smiled, as she knew that he was coming to entertain her. We still had our moments of jealousy, but at the end of the day, he knew she was his little sister, he could love and protect.

My eldest was always a talker. As my mother used to say, he could talk the legs off a table. So I gauged a lot of milestones off of what he had hit. So when my daughter wasn't talking and started to withdraw from the world, it stuck me as something was wrong. For almost a year, I fought with our medical personnel  at the time to get some sort of referral to anyone who would see her. I kept being told no, as they thought she was a late bloomer. My husband at the time was deployed, so my son who was three, took it upon himself to be the "Man" of the house. I noticed, he would talk for my daughter. At first I thought, he was just exerting his brotherly power over her, but then I noticed, with her not vocalizing her wants and needs, he was telling me what she needed and wanted. It was almost like he just got her. He understood the garbled language she had adopted as her own. It was that little connection he had with her.

When we finally got her autism diagnosis, it was a game changer for everyone. It meant that we all needed to work around her schedule of doctor appointments, in home visits with an ABA therapist. Which for him was a little difficult, as he was always used to being the life of the party. When my husband and I had to shift our attention towards our daughter, there was a little resentment as he was at an age, where he didn't understand the why of having a sibling with special needs. As much as we tried to include him, it was hard for him to identify with his sister, but the fact that he never stopped trying speaks volumes to his character.

It was when he was faced with having two siblings with special needs, did we see him become their champion. In a way it has taught him to see the uniqueness of people. Keep his mind and eyes open. I know there are times where the mass amounts of doctors appointments and the ever changing schedules get tiring for him. It does take the toll on him. In time, when he is mature enough to understand completely about what makes his siblings special needs, he will be a better person for it. Fighting for someone will mean something to him. Loving someone so uniquely will but things in perspective for him. It will be a lesson that teaches him that everyone are human beings, that just deserve respect in the simplest of forms.

His siblings, like any siblings do what siblings do best, they are his first friends, they are the people that might annoy him the most, but at the end of the day, he would stop for nothing to make sure his sister and brother are taken care of. He will love them unconditionally. He would go to bat for them at any given time, but most importantly he will be a better person because he has them in his life.