As the parent of a child with special needs, I laughed and cried and felt a kinship with parents who told their stories. Having a special-needs child is an emotional roller coaster. You must give up your pre-conceived dreams of who your child will be, and learn to set new goals for them, for yourself and for your family. You will experience great pride, and heart-felt devastation. You may feel alone, shunned by friends, and classroom parents who won’t understand. Your child may be bullied, and left out of play dates and playground games. But your journey can be exhilarating and satisfying too. If you’re lucky, you’ll find others who love and accept your child, and understand your experience. You may find your child has strengths and talents you never imagined. You life will be enriched by the experiences in store for you. I hope these stories and ideas encourage you when raising your amazing child with autism!
The collection of 39 stories of our son, and our family, focus on:
Therapy Tips & Ideas
School & Advocacy
Family & Personal Life
Adolescence & Beyond
It’s the kind of memoir I would have wanted when I was raising my son. I’m hoping it will make a difference for some families today in need of a trusted parent & friend’s advice on raising a child with autism.
All stories in my book were previously published on my blog.
My child with autism has a typically-developing older sister. She’s fairly quirky, (a story for another time) but gets along well with others, and hasn’t the challenges her brother has. During the early years of our family, our daughter often had to wait to have her needs met. Family resources went to her brother first. She learned to be patient and take care of herself, while we gave time and attention to our son. She did, however, share her hurt feelings when there was a shift during a particular time of upheaval. This was when our son got moved to a new school. She noticed that I didn’t come in to volunteer in her classroom like I had done before. My focus on him left her wanting and hurting. Many families report that siblings of children with autism often experience feelings of neglect.
If you see signs of your child’s siblings hurting, there are some ideas to support them:
Information – Share children’s books on autism with siblings. Have discussions. They need to have some information too.
Let them speak their mind – They may say things that surprise you, but when they feel heard and valued, that will lead to positive feelings and behavior.
Special time – Make a point to have special time with each sibling. Get a sitter if needed. It doesn’t have to be a big block of time. Just connect with them.
Strive to be fair – Everyone in the house can participate at the level of their ability. Families working together will create unity.
Have fun – Enjoy things when you can. Under stress, it can be hard to see the good things that may be happening around you, but I encourage you to look for that. Enjoy your children, because they grow up too fast.
Support Groups – You may find a Sibling Support Group to be helpful. See if there are any in your area.
When our daughter was in high school, there was a boy in her class who had a lot of difficulty. He blurted out frequently, his social skills were poor, and he had much trouble getting along with students and teachers. My daughter described to me how the other students teased him, or excluded him from activities. When I asked how she treated him, she said she couldn’t be mean to him, because he was just like her brother, only older. It was then that I realized the years of living with a sibling with autism provided the unexpected benefit of helping her to develop tenderness toward those with disabilities. This is one of my daughter’s best qualities.