Younger Siblings and Autism

There are certain aspects forgotten when discussing children with autism. There is plenty of discussion regarding support, awareness, and best approaches to making day to day life better. However, one key aspect is the other children in the house and how they react and take in the situation. For us, we have Miss Kinley, and what a true gem she is.

You see, it wasn’t until yesterday that Kinley had ever asked about Carter and why he had things just a little bit different then her. Kinley likes going to school and seeing her friends, while Carter didn’t really care. (Read our post about school here, although as of today Carter has been asking to go back to school) Kinley enjoys doing extra curricular activities like dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading, while Carter is content with The Magic School Bus in the living room.

Once Kinley started asking questions though, we were not really prepared to provide the answers. For us, we just assumed Kinley knew there was some differences with Carter, especially with the shunt in his head and the tube running down his neck bulging through the skin. So when we started explaining to her what was just a little bit different with Carter, we hoped it didn’t make her act any differently around him.

You see, we notice ourselves taking extra steps for Carter to be content without realizing it. Letting him watch the show he wants, or play games during his one hour of screen time right when Kinley wanted to watch one of her shows. We have never noticed until just recently, and now we ensure that doesn’t happen. It is not fair for Kinley to feel as though she doesn’t get the same amount of attention as Carter, and we do not want this to affect her later on.

When it is time to go out and do something, we got to the point where we always went to where Carter wanted to go to minimize the amount of meltdowns that occurred. We would always go to Buffalo Wild Wings since it is his favorite place to eat, while Kinley doesn’t enjoy it there. We would not go to Walmart because he hated it so much he would scream in the parking lot, even though that has passed over time. It got to the point during our vacation in Tennessee that Kinley was upset because everything was Carter’s idea. However, when we asked her what she wanted to do, it ended up being the mall!

Carter and Kinley smiling
Carter and Kinley getting their picture done

We have also seen Kinley standing up for him. When her friends are over, she doesn’t let people go in his room to bug him. She takes any toys that are left out to him and says she found it for him. She even makes sure Carter doesn’t get left out when games and ice cream are involved. Kinley, at 7 years old and 2 years younger than Carter, acts like the big sister. Now I am not saying this doesn’t make us proud, I am saying she shouldn’t have to.

The following are some future aspects we have decided to work on:

  • More one on one time with each kid
  • Taking Kinley’s choices into consideration
  • Allowing Kinley to have friends dates away from the rest of the family
  • Preparing to dal with Carter’s outbursts, instead of planning around them
  • Asking Kinley what she wants to do
  • Talking to each of them and explaining why certain choices are made instead of assuming they understand

Any advice you can give to others on siblings?

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