A pregnancy is a very exciting time in any family, but when you have children with disabilities, it can get a bit more complicated. When I was pregnant with Baby M, A-Man had no concept of a baby coming. Even after Baby M was here, A-Man spent the first six months or so just pointing at him and asking us, “What’s that??”
In A-Man’s world, I was simply getting rounder, and then we had a strange creature appear out of nowhere that never left again. Now that Baby M is walking and talking, A-Man understands that he’s a person, but it took quite a lot of getting used to. With the new baby on the way, we’re really trying to help A-Man understand that there’s a baby coming and what that will mean for him and our family.
4 Super Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Autistic Child for a New Baby
Name The Baby Early (If Possible)
This one is easy for us because we always name our kids really, really early. Pretty much as soon as my belly is noticeable, we’ll have a name for our little one. I know that some people don’t find out the gender until birth (seriously, if that’s you, I’m impressed!) and some people can’t decide on a name for sure until birth, but if at all possible having a name is a huge help!
Using the name instead of just “baby” can really help kids who struggle with abstract concepts. We’ve been using the baby’s name with the boys, and A-Man seems to understand that because the baby has a name it’s a person, not just some random object.
This was also recommended to us by the boys’ speech therapist. So far it’s working well. If we ask A-Man where *enter name* is he will come find my belly and give it hugs and kisses.
Talk About It A Lot
“New baby” “Big brother” “Big helper” and more are pretty frequently said around this house lately. We talk a lot about having a new baby, how the new baby will need to eat from Mommy, how the new baby will cry, etc.
A-Man doesn’t get much from oral communication, but we want him familiar with these words if at all possible. The more exposure he gets to the idea of having a new baby or needing to be a big helper, the more it will be normalized by the time the baby is here (and crying, and nursing, and constantly needing Mom).
Use How They Learn
Many people will tell you to get some books about having a new baby, and that works great for some kids! A-Man? Not so much. Books are not his favorite, and unless it’s a story from a movie he’s already seen a million times, he really doesn’t pay attention to the stories.
He learns best through TV and movies, so we’re using that.
Thankfully, Netflix just added season two of Daniel Tiger (one of our favorite shows for helping A-Man understand social concepts) where Daniel gets a new baby sister! The first several episodes are all about him becoming a big helper for his family and how to handle his jealousy of his new sibling.
We’ll definitely be using some of the songs when the new baby is here!
Visit Little Babies
This is one we haven’t done yet, part because not many of my friends have little babies right now and part because A-Man hasn’t quite mastered being “gentle” yet. I know how to handle him near one of my own newborns, I wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable risking it with someone else’s.
However, this can be a great way to expose kids to new babies and help get them ready for what’s coming.
New babies are overwhelming to us, they’re even more so to children with special needs who are experiencing all new smells and sounds and sights. It’s a lot to take in for kids who are easily overstimulated. So even though this isn’t a step we’ve taken with A-Man, it’s still one that I recommend.
Welcoming your new baby is such a fun time. With these simple tips you’ll help your kids with special needs understand and accept their new sibling with much less of a struggle!
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