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Being a Sibling to a Child with Special Needs

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Being a Sibling to a Child with Special Needs

One of the hardest things about having a child with special needs is balancing the attention I give to his sibling. I find myself feeling extremely guilty that most of my time is sucked dry on only one of my children. My youngest is only 6 years old, and he's still at the age I wish I could freeze. The last thing I want to happen is miss out on these precious years. I'm distracted. He gets a fraction of my attention, and it's not his fault.

If I'm honest with myself, I can even admit that I am struggling with some resentment toward my oldest because of it, and that's not his fault. They are both innocent in all of this, and I have to find a way to bring joy into the home everyday-no matter what! For both of them.

I've spent the last two weeks on the phone trying to schedule appointments, line up occupational therapy, find the right team of professionals to work with. Because the move has been so traumatic for my oldest it's recommended that he takes an anti-depressant for 3-6 months to get through this transition period. I totally agree with this which says a lot about his behavior. I'm not usually one to go with medication unless it's absolutely needed, and I believe it is. His anxiety is very high, and it's manifesting itself in some very disturbing behaviors. He's washed his hands so much in the past few weeks that they are literally rubbed raw, and a completely different color from his arms. So now we have to find a psychiatrist to work with in order to get a prescription for him...more calls...

I'm fine with the task at hand. His is my son, and I will do anything to get him the help that he needs to live a good life! I'm not complaining about the task at all. He needs me! I will be there! I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! In my heart I know this. I believe it.

But, I'm tired, and it's only the beginning of a long journey. That can't be good?!

I wish I had more time. My little one is on the sidelines, and I hate it!

I already see that my youngest is affected by the situation. He's such a lover. He doesn't argue, or back talk. Yeah, I know he's only 6, but he is naturally soft-hearted. Being in the room when my oldest is having a meltdown would be hard for anyone. It's especially hard for his brother, who loves him very much. Who doesn't really understand why all of this is going on. He often covers his ears, and looks visably scared. What is all of this doing to him? How can I protect him?

The other day, I had reached my limit. I just sat with my head in my hands and cried. Right in front of him. He just patted me on the back and said, "Mom, it's not your fault, you're a good mom."

What 6 year old should have to tell their mom that? It's not his job to console me. Even so, it did. I hugged him and said, "Thank you, baby. Thank you."

In the end I have to believe that each child has their seasons. Right now, my oldest needs the majority of my attention. Won't there come a time when it's the other way around? I have to tell myself that these challenges are opportunities to build our family stronger than ever. They are opportunities to teach my boys how to handle the hard stuff. Each day I have the chance to show my boys how to rely on God, how to keep faith in tough times. I have the chance to show them to stick together! To love each other, no matter what. I need to view these times as the opportunities they are.

I hope if I can do that. I've done my job.

This post is linked at Things I Can't Say for good dose of Pouring My Heart Out.

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At May 25, 2011 at 10:04 AM , Blogger Tiffany said...

I wish I had words of wisdom for you. I know how you feel about feeling like you are not spending enough time with one child because of another. My daughter has not been diagnosed with ADD yet but she has 90% of the characteristics. School is quite a struggle for her and many afternoons this past school year were spent correcting her behavior in class and attempting to complete homework. There have been many days where I felt like I neglected my 3 1/2 year old son and pacified him with alone activities so I could help out my daughter.
For me, it's just take one day at a time. That's all I can do. Big hugs to you.

At May 25, 2011 at 10:08 AM , Blogger Mrs. R said...

His patience and big heart suggest you're doing a pretty good job with him already. Perhaps make time for play dates, where just you and him go do something. Difficult, I realize. But not impossible as long as there's someone your oldest is comfortable with while you're gone. Since I'm sure free time is limited, start with something as simple as taking the youngest out for ice cream and an uninterrupted conversation?

Stopped by for PYHO.

At May 25, 2011 at 10:26 AM , Blogger Sara said...

Oh Girl. I wish I could hug you!! I hate that this transition has been so tough for ALL of you:-(

I will say this- my brother isn't special needs, but he demanded A LOT of my parents attention, and still does. It's OK- as the child who was often on the sidelines, I grew up stronger, more independent, and most of, NOT resentful of him or my parents. It just was what it was. Sometimes God gives us personality traits to handle certain things, and HE knew what he was doing when He made your 1st AND your 2nd son. Trust that. Your little one will be ok, and so will your oldest.

And, so will you. Love ya!

At May 25, 2011 at 10:29 AM , Blogger princessr9 said...

It sounds like you're doing a wonderful job. Stopping by from PYHO.

At May 25, 2011 at 10:30 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

This is so tough but your 6 year old is amazing, which says a lot about you as a parent! In his own 6 year old way, he understands!!! I hope that things get better for you and your precious family!!!

At May 25, 2011 at 10:35 AM , Blogger aimee said...

This is so hard! I am just amazed at your 6 year old when he said that. You inspire me!

At May 25, 2011 at 10:51 AM , Blogger Kim said...

I think that it is good for him to see you crying. It's important for our kids to know that we are human. You have so much on your plate. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for your beautiful honesty here.

At May 25, 2011 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Di said...


The transition is sure to be tough on all of you. How lucky you are to have a six year old that can and will comfort you when you need it though!

At May 25, 2011 at 1:32 PM , Blogger Shell said...

I totally get it. We have to give the attention to the child who needs it the most.

I hate that. But, it's the way it has to be.

At May 25, 2011 at 1:46 PM , OpenID yestheyareallmine said...

I totally understand where you are coming from. I have two daughters who have autism, albinism, low vision, spd, and one of them has severe food allergies. I fear that my oldest feels she doest get any attention. We try our best but it still isnt enough. Life is hard.

I'm visiting from PYHO and am now following. I used to follow you but then I left blog land you might remember me as Ramblings of Casey. I started a whole new blog you can find me at

At May 25, 2011 at 4:45 PM , Blogger Marissa said...

My goodness, what an honest and heartfelt post. You are doing the best you can, don't ever doubt that! You will find balance throughout your struggles.

At May 25, 2011 at 4:53 PM , Blogger Dysfunctional Mom said...

I feel your pain too. I have four kids, one is my stepson who I raise as my own. He has ADHD, OCD, Generalized Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, symptoms of can be very trying, and it's hard to carve out special time for the other kids. Even when the special needs child is not demanding your attention, you're so exhausted from dealing with it all.
One thing I Try to do is have certain activities just for the other kids. Like my youngest daughter helps me cook. She loves it and although the other kids sometimes want to help, I have put my foot down; this is a special activity only for the two of us.
I loved this honest and heartfelt post, and I wish you the best.

At May 25, 2011 at 9:11 PM , OpenID said...

I'm so sorry. I wish there were a way to just "fix" this. But it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job, for both of your children. Trying your hardest is the most any of us can do.

At May 25, 2011 at 10:14 PM , Blogger Missy said...

I feel you! I have 3 kids with special needs out of my 4. I've found one of my boys starting to take on the role of caregiver and not brother. It's hard when he feels that he needs to do things for his twin brother. You are doing the best you can :)

At May 26, 2011 at 10:33 PM , OpenID strugglingforeverafter said...

that sounds so hard. Good luck. But i agree with one of the other comments - it sounds like you little one is a good kid (and that is because you are a good mom.)


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