Having a child with special needs is incredibly difficult. Between therapies and diagnoses and insurance battles, being a special needs mom is tough. Something we tend to forget, however, is that being the sibling of a special needs child is also really tough on kids. Mr. C does fabulous with A-Man, and he always has. He helps him learn things and he does his best to make sure A-Man is always included in games that he can handle.
The last month or so, though, things have been rough for Mr. C. First we started A-Man in speech therapy, then he added occupational. Then the baby started occupational, then we added physical and speech. Twice a week Mr. C hangs out with my mom by himself while I take the youngest boys to therapy. Mr. C does not like to be by himself, ever.
So our routine got switched around, and our focus shifted. We are doing our best to not let Mr. C’s needs fall by the wayside because his needs don’t scream quite as loud as A-Man’s and Baby M’s. That said, it has caused plenty of behavior issues lately.
Bad Behavior in the Special Needs Child’s Sibling.
Is your child sad that they don’t see their sibling as often as they used to? Maybe they’re adjusting to the new routine and it’s making them nervous. Maybe they’re jealous that their sibling gets praise for something they do every day? We faced that with Mr. C in a big way. He is gifted in the academic sense and met every milestone really early. It was really hard for him to see us praising A-Man for saying please and thank you when he has done that every day since he was a year old. Try to find the feeling behind the behavior and remedy it the best you can. For us, that meant finding things that Mr. C can do really well that A-Man can’t and highlighting on them. Praising him for choosing his own outfits or doing his homework.
It can be really difficult to understand what’s going on for kids, especially if your child with special needs has different rules. Mr. C has grown up with A-Man and nothing changed with him once he got the diagnosis except that he started improving. We sat Mr. C down and explained that A-Man’s brain worked differently than ours, so the things that he does aren’t always his fault. We talked about how when Mr. C does something naughty, it’s because he chooses to, but A-Man doesn’t get to choose. His brain takes over and he can’t help it. Once Mr. C understood that, there were a lot less battles over what was “fair”.
Mr. C had both of his brothers diagnosed and starting therapy within three months. That’s a lot to digest for me, let alone for an almost five year old. I sat down with Mr. C to really talk about what was happening. About what A-Man’s therapies do, and what struggles the baby has. I made clear that they were both just fine, we were just helping them learn because everyone learns in different ways. Mr. C and I are both workbook learners, but Chris has to do something to learn. No way is right or wrong, people are just different. I think he thought that his brothers were “sick” and that scared him. Now that he knows more of what’s going on, he’s been tolerating the changes more.
Give Them Time
I’m not saying that you need to take the sibling of your special needs child out for lunch every single week, but try to work some focused alone time into your day or week. For me, that means taking time to snuggle Mr. C in the mornings when A-Man and the baby are playing. We talk about what’s on his mind or we watch some tv. Whatever he feels like doing. Just doing this first thing during the day has helped his attitude more than anything else. It can be difficult. Sometimes the baby needs to breastfeed, and sometimes A-Man needs help with something, but I try to make it a priority every morning.
Has the sibling of your special needs child acted out? How did you handle it?
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