This is something that I feel quite strongly about. It is because when I was younger it was never explained to me what was going on, why my brother was treated differently, why he had his outbursts or why he treated people the way he does. Obviously back then I was very upset, felt excluded and very confused but now when I look back on how I felt I feel extremely selfish. That I really missed out because of not having someone explain to me that was going on and why he was being treated differently etc. Between me and my brother there is only one year and 8 days so we were extremely close in age and we were very bonded. I love him dearly and always will, especially now that I understand his ADHD.
Therefor I have made very sure to keep Amellia involved and updated with what is happening with her little brother. She is extremely tuned in with him though, She spotted before us things he was doing or that he wasn’t doing that she thought he would be doing. One day she compared him to a friends child who has autism, and asked if he would always be like her. She also got incredibly worried whenever he wasn’t talking and started to ask us when he would start talking or be able to say her name or anything at all. This was when we decided it was time to tell her that things were slightly different with him and that we can’t put a time on when he will start talking or if he ever will. We are pretty sure that he will talk because he makes lots of different noises and sounds etc, but it is hard for her seeing her friends with brothers and sisters around his age talking, running about, going swimming together etc.
Whenever we explained it to her we kept it nice and simple, that he would learn in his own time and that we would all have to make changes. We didn’t say too much too her as we don’t have an official diagnosis yet and we also didn’t want to say too much and confuse her. So we told her a few things and then let her ask whatever questions she had and told her that whenever she had any questions that she could just ask us. The next day she came up to us and made me so happy she told us “mummy I don’t mind if Dylan is different, I love him anyway.” I had to sneak off to have a cry, it was just wonderful an incredible thing for a five year old to have said.
I think it is incredibly important to tell siblings, they will then understand why you have to make differences for them, why there has to be changes and why certain activities or things they enjoy just aren’t as easy to do anymore and why when telling them off it has to done differently and allowances have to be changed.
We are incredibly lucky parents to have such an understanding daughter. If we have to leave somewhere because he doesn’t like it she is perfectly ok with that (as much as I hurt for her) if she has to wait till another day to go to the park because he is having an off day she is ok with that, if he wakes her up in the middle of the night, shes ok with that too. she will come downstairs and lay with me until we get him sorted. She really doesn’t get enough credit for how wonderful she is. I always try and make sure she gets to do the things she wants to do even if it is in a few days time, and that she gets to spend 1:1 time with one of us as much as possible so that she can go to the park and can leave when she is ready, so that she can go swimming, so that she can be a child and forget everything that is going on at home that makes her life so different to a lot of her friends.
This is the reason why I will always keep her up to date with what is going on with Dylan, so that she can feel included along the way and so that she can have as big an understanding as she can about him.
Special needs does not just change the child’s life who is living with the special need it changes everyone’s in the family.
We are all still getting used to the changes, his quirks, dislikes and likes, but we are doing it together as a family. Learning as we all go. I don’t think there has been a more relevant time to reinstate what my blog name stands for; Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.