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Taking care of siblings, too

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm wondering what other parents do to explain to their NT kids why they are getting treated differently than their special needs kids.  We've been spending a lot of time working on DD1s learning issues lately.  She has had a lot of anxiety, and so I let her stay home for a couple days on fairly flimsy excuses while I organized some solutions for her.  Now DD2 is complaining of stomach aches in the morning, and asking why her sister gets to stay home with a stomach ache but she doesn't.  I'm reluctant to go into detail about why, because too much detail leads to a big argument with her and it's not really her call.  I don't really want to give her more details than she has about DD1's dyslexia and anxiety issues, because I don't want DD1 to seem like she's fragile or something - this was a temporary measure while we got stuff in place to help her out, and it won't happen again now that she has better supports.  But I don't really have a good answer when DD2 says, You let DD1 do this, why can't I?  Any thoughts?

post #2 of 12

Frustrating because you don't want your other kids to feel like you're favoring one. We've had to deal A LOT with that issue with our 10 yr old. Her older brother has aspergers syndrome.

So I got her involved with autism awareness month. We talk about the way mom's brain works, the way her brother's brain works, why he & I need help in certain areas, what kind of help we need. It's been beneficial. She is more understanding now and I'm more patient with her issues over it. She's gotten a lot better. Calmer.

Is there some way you can be talking about your daughter's anxiety and dyslexia while involving her sister in the convo and talking about how we help those who need it?

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post

I'm wondering what other parents do to explain to their NT kids why they are getting treated differently than their special needs kids.... But I don't really have a good answer when DD2 says, You let DD1 do this, why can't I?  Any thoughts?


Our rules around the house are pretty much the same for both kids. I try not to treat my special needs kid very different. They both have chores, they both have to do homework etc.  (Sometimes, I've let my NT slide with less than was reasonable for HER, just to avoid the whole treating-sibs-different thing).

 

I also try to make sure that I'm spending time with and connecting with my NT child. When things aren't going well for her sister, it's easy for her to get lost in the shuffle. I think part of bypassing sibling rivalry (and your question is really a variation of that) is to assure kids that THEIR needs will be meet. Meeting sister's needs doesn't mean that you won't have your needs met. Sometimes what you need is different. Are you doing things for your NT child to help her needs and keep her life rich? Right now we are setting up camps for the summer, and my NT child has a lot more possibilities. She gets to do more because she can do more.

 

I don't know how old or mature your DD is, and I think that makes a difference. Honesty might go along way with your DD. Possible answers could be:

 

"I'm not going to let her do it again"

"Your needs are different than hers.  It's my job to do what it right for each of you as individuals, not to always do the same things"

"Your sister was going through a rough time and needed some extra help. She's doing better now."

 

Is your SN child anxiety obvious to others? My SN child has an anxiety disorder and has has full blown panic attacks that involve hyperventilating, shaking, being unable to speak. My NT child is pretty clear that her sister is sometimes NOT ok. It's not we could keep a secret if we tried.

 

I recommend "Siblings without Rivalry."  A lot of it holds true even when one sib has special needs. 

 

There's no reason to get into an argument with her over this stuff. If you give an example of how those conversations tend to go, may be we could help trouble shoot the dialogue.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

When I think about it, we have talked a lot about 9yo DD1's learning differences, but not a lot about the anxiety that she deals with as well.  She doesn't really get panic attacks, she's a constant worrier.  When it escalates, she worries herself into a little crying ball in the corner over a few days, so it's not so obvious - especially if we've managed to head it off at the pass as it were.  She tries to manage it by controlling her environment and being rigid in her understanding of the world, but that again is not so obvious - it just looks like a behavior issue.  So, when I know that DD1 is upset and barely holding it together I might give her a break on where she sits or any number of other things that I know might set her off (especially sensory stuff); to 6yo DD2 tho, it probably just looks like DD1 is getting her way for no reason.  I can explain that DD1 is very upset about something, but that just gives the message that DD2 should amp it up to get what she wants.  I don't want us to be all tiptoeing around the worried kid, and we are taking steps to get DD1 back in the realm of reasonable.  We are spending time with DD2, and doing special things with her - I don't feel like she's lost in the shuffle, but she's bright and can see that DD1 'gets away' with stuff sometimes. 

 

A typical recent conversation with DD2 went:

Me - time to get ready for the bus! 

her - I don't want to go to school, my tummy hurts.

Me - your tummy has been fine all morning, you need to get ready

Her - It hurts.  When DD1 had a tummy ache, she got to stay home. 

Me - DD1 had more going on than a tummy ache, and I let her stay home because she's switching schools.  That won't happen now that she's at her new school.  I will make you a doctors appointment for your tummy if you'd like, but you need to go to school.

Her - I don't want to! It's not fair!  My tummy hurts too!  I don't like school!  Why does she get to stay home and I don't!! WAHHHH !!!  etc.

post #5 of 12
Big hugs from me. Our DD1s sounds very similar. Mine is also 9 with anxiety and dyslexia, her anxiety is also not the panic attack kind but constant worring or "freak outs" that take a while to get her calmed down so I try to head them off when I sense them coming. Like your DD1 she also struggles with sensory problems. Maybe we have separated 9 year old twins? LOL. 5.5 year old DD2 doesn't understand. Heck, even DH comments on how much harder he thinks I am on DD2 then DD1. Most Of the time I try to get the same end result but my tactics are very different, and I might get the result with DD2 right away when it is a several day thing for DD1. Sigh. We have two younger boys as well. I am afraid that the two middle kids just to get lost.

It is a constant work in progress and a constant struggle, daily I feel. I try to keep mindful of the siblings. And someways I feel that is half the battle, just knowing it is a problem.

Ignore iPad typos, sorry.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Peony, maybe they are cross linked through another dimension or something! lol  It's good to hear from someone who gets it :) That is exactly the sort of thing we're dealing with - and I'm sure you feel too that if making some relatively minor change will stop several hours (or occasionally days) long flip out sessions, then it's worth changing even if it crosses the line of what I'd usually consider acceptable behavior.  For instance, I usually insist on not playing games (like handheld games) or doing activities that don't include others (such as reading) if we have play date guests .  But if DD1 is heading for a meltdown, not giving her space is going to make everything worse for everyone.  DD2 has no such issues, she's much more extroverted and she needs to be polite.  She can take a little break if she needs to, but usually she is just bored and doing what she wants rather than problem solve something her and her friend can do together, not upset and unable to hold herself together.   On the surface it looks like a double standard, but because the reasons behind the behavior is different the effective response is different too.  Hard to tell that to a 6yo, even a bright one. 

post #7 of 12

My 5 year old has a lot of questions in this area.  I explained to him that we do certain things to help him, like giving him extra vitamins for his nighttime leg cramps, and we do certain things to help his 10 year old brother, like giving him extra time to swing - because swinging is like taking vitamins for him.  When I am doing work with DS1, then DS2 gets special time with his dad or a special privilege such as extra computer time.  I checked out a bunch of books at the library that explain special needs from a sibling's point of view, and that helped a lot, too.  We are members of a recreational facility for families with special needs kids, so DS2 has played with kids who have all types of special needs.  He knows that his older brother needs extra help to learn some things.

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post
  I don't like school! 


Does she really not like school? What's going on for her and school?

 

(your post made me grateful I no longer have a 6 year old)

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm not clear on what's going on for DD2 and school.  Her teachers love her and have nothing but good things to say, and say that she seems to be enjoying herself at school.  She is acing everything, but at home complains alternately that it's too hard or too easy.  I think generally the work is not challenging enough for her, and I'm trying to get some enrichment set up for her but it takes time.  She's in french immersion too, and I think some of her 'too hard' frustration is with the limits of language, since she's only supposed to speak french in class.  Mostly tho, she's a bit of a tomboy and a kinesthetic learner - she would far rather be out somewhere else doing something than sitting around thinking about it.  Sometimes I wonder if she's not a bit ADHD or something, but I don't hear anything about behavior issues in class so I've blown it off as her being 6.  Usually she comes home saying she had fun, a good day or whatever, but leaving here is hard every morning - reminds me of seperation anxiety for a toddler, now that I'm writing it down. 

 

(and lol at reminding you about 6yos Linda!)

post #10 of 12

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post

I'm not clear on what's going on for DD2 and school.  Her teachers love her and have nothing but good things to say, and say that she seems to be enjoying herself at school.  She is acing everything, but at home complains alternately that it's too hard or too eas.....Usually she comes home saying she had fun, a good day or whatever, but leaving here is hard every morning - reminds me of seperation anxiety for a toddler, now that I'm writing it down. 

 

(and lol at reminding you about 6yos Linda!)

 

 

I'd pivot the conversation to her and to what is going on with her. Active listen usually helps, or brain storming some things to make the morning transitions easier for her.

 

This isn't about her sister. It's about her. 

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

hmm, good thoughts :)  thx!

post #12 of 12

No particular advice...but HUGS...so hard balancing life with kiddos and making sure everyone feels the love...It is great that you are thinking about it and making a plan...

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