Do I love all of my children the same?
An age-old question maybe, but a question that has to be addressed sometimes. My answer to the question is no, I do not. I love them all differently.
They are loved as differently as are their unique personalities, as differently as their own needs and wants, as differently as their individual talents and gifts, as differently as their personal dreams and desires.
But I love none more than another, none less.
Although I write one blog, I could easily write three. Each of my children have been on multiple journeys and have had many successes, joys, challenges, and drama. They will each face much more in their lives. I am proud of each of their accomplishments as well as all of the things they have overcome.
Stories of Jess fill my blog because my blog is about Jess and the impact her joy, challenges, and needs have on our family. I occasionally include Hannah in my blog but only with her review and permission. I do not include my son in my blog because from the beginning, he has asked me not to. That is his choice and I totally respect that. So the lack of writing about him in my blog is not a reflection of my love and affection for him.
Nothing particular prompted me to write about this topic. Merely being a mother makes me want to make sure my children know how much I love them as the individuals that they always have been and always will be. I want to do it right, but I know that I have failed many times.
Raising siblings of children with autism is challenging.
Forever ago (actually, is was probably in 1994,) I bought the book “Siblings of Children with Autism – A Guide for Families” by Sandra L. Harris.
Although I don’t recall grasping anything earth shattering, it reminds me that over 20 years ago I was already searching for help. Madison would have been 3 and Hannah 1.
“Raising a child with autism places some extraordinary demands on parents as individuals and on the family as a whole. Prime among these demands is the lack of enough hours in the day to do all one wishes. Specifically, the time involved in meeting the needs of a family member with autism may leave parents with little time for their other children.
Many parents feel that even as they do all they can for their child with autism, they are always struggling with how best to respond to the needs of the family as a whole…As a result, there is a continual tension between the needs of the child with autism and those of the other children.”
The page lists some stresses siblings may experience. These are a few that I saw in my own children as they were growing up.
Jealousy regarding amount of time parents spend with their brother/sister
Frustration over not being able to engage or get a response from their brother/sister
Being the target of aggressive behaviors
Concern regarding their parents’ stress and grief
Concern over their role in future caregiving
The Good News
According to the document Sibling Perspectives: Guidelines for Parents, research shows siblings frequently mention positive outcomes from growing up with an autistic sibling.
The Autism Society reports while growing up as the sibling of someone with autism can certainly be trying, most siblings cope very well. And that while having a sibling with autism is a challenge, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Most children handle the challenge effectively, and many of them respond with love, grace and humor far beyond their years.
I am so proud of my children. Especially Madison and Hannah. They have grown into intelligent, wonderful, loving, kind, and compassionate adults. Madison has found himself, accomplished great things, and is still on an incredible journey of discovery and learning. Hannah has proven she is a survivor, a wonderful person and incredible caregiver, and is on a journey of discovering where she wants to go from here.
TO MY CHILDREN:
Robert Munsch (Love you Forever)