Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Sibling Connection

There is always talk about the affect that having a brother or sister with autism and what affects that it has on their relationship and overall experience growing up. As Elliot and Alvin get older I am starting to understand more of what this really means.

Over the past few months I have seen the relationship between Alvin and Elliot change and grow. One thing that I expected was for Elliot to be a very good big sister to Madilyn and take on the big sister roll well. What I didn't expect is for her to begin to take on the big sister roll to Alvin.

Over the past year with all of our visits to Seattle Children's and Alvin being hospitalized twice for about a week each Elliot began to understand things. She began to understand that he isn't like other kids his age or hers. Slowly over time she became protective. As in you mess with him without her permission and you will pay dearly. When we are home she messes with him and beats him up like any good big sister.

The funny thing is when they are separated they each get a little lost. At school when the year started Alvin had some issues. He was apprehensive going into class and interacting with the other kids.

This past week Elliot went to a camp at the little gym without him and honestly just looked lost. Alvin had a rough day and we thought she could use a little time with other normal kids just to have fun. When we got there she just stood there at first just looking for another kid she might know, but overall just looking lost from not having him with her.

I honestly think though that Mac, Elliot and Madilyn will all be better people for having a sibling like Alvin. Elliot especially has seemed to learn so much about being around kids and adults with special needs and instead of shying away from people that are different she is drawn to them.

So maybe having a sibling isn't such a bad thing or burden like it is sometimes made out to be. Maybe those of us with kids with autism are actually giving their siblings something that will benefit them far beyond their childhood.

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