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Siblings of Special Needs Kids

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    Siblings of Special Needs Kids

    Hi,

    I'm struggling big time with my almost 7 year old who has a 4.5 year old brother with ASD.

    This afternoon things came to a head (again), after me attempting to be fun and kind turned into the one conversation that happens around here (it feels) i.e. why I am so horrible for letting the little kids just have fun and make her do all the work (whether it is lessons or chores). She pulls out every stop with comments about her brother and about how I don't love her like her younger siblings. The latest one is how any bad behaviour on her front is because of an incident that happened several weeks ago where she pushed Jonny off a low wall they were running around. He fell into a metal picnic stool and needed stitches in his chin and has a pretty decent scar. I was sympathetic when she had genuine feelings of remorse and the realisation that her actions have real consequences. She's very very bright in this way, in understanding these kinds of things and feels very deeply...but because she got warmth and sympathy I'm being plagued by referrals to it as excuses for every bad behaviour. It makes me feel like every time she gets in trouble (and lately it's a lot) I'm constantly hearing about how she resents her brother.

    Until Jonny got diagnosed with autism she had much more of my attention. But then he needed help...since the beginning of the year we've done Floortime, OT, Speech, Hanen and ABA, but in all that she has always gotten a fair degree of attention, and often just as long one on one time with me, in fact lately even more...I had been getting up at 5am to get space to myself but because she was struggling with the heat (we're in Australia and can't afford a/c) I was waking her up at 5.30 and making it a special time where we could do her lessons together but also really enjoy it being just us, making her a special hot chocolate from a sachet (we don't usually buy these, it was just for us). It was lovely, for about a week...then it all became a big fight, lots of picking fights (I wrecked my recitation I need to do it ALL from the beginning!) and creating melodrama and "Jonny doesn't have to do this, he gets to play for his lessons" (Jonny and I have 20mins of pretend play together after his SC Level B work.). Before my husband started commuting I tried to take her out once a week (just me, Miriam and her baby sister), but it ended up being extremely unfun too. Nothing matched her expectations. A few months ago I can recall feeling there had been a big change for the better but now that seems a distant memory.

    When she is happy and delighted she is happy and delighted to the extreme, and sad, and resentful too...

    Do any of you mums of kids with Special Needs get resentfulness from their siblings? How do you respond to it?

    I do worry about her extreme reactions. We took her to a psychologist at the end of last year and the verdict was: gifted/controlling/sensory issues. Another psychologist who saw J at our house and made a brief assessment of M thinks she has very mild ASD but not worth going down the diagnosis route. I don't think it's ASD. The first psychologist really liked my daughter (and vice versa) and I'm thinking about how we can get her in to see her again. But in the meantime the only idea I've got is a thankfulness journal as I've seen Cheryl mention a number of times (but only occurred to me as being helpful for her tonight). Any other ideas anyone?
    Sarah

    Aussies from Sydney, Australia
    Miriam 9yo Latina Christiana, Greek Myths, Poppers Penguins, Christian Studies 1, R+S 4 (also IEW Phonetic Zoo, IEW Poetry Memorisation, HWT Cursive)
    Jonny 6.5yo (Special Needs) SC Level 1
    Elissa 3.5yo SC Level B (for preschool)
    Thomas 12 months

    #2
    Re: Siblings of Special Needs Kids

    Originally posted by sarahandrew View Post
    Hi,

    I'm struggling big time with my 7 year old....

    Nothing matched her expectations.

    When she is happy and delighted she is happy and delighted to the extreme....

    I do worry about her extreme reactions. We took her to a psychologist at the end of last year and the verdict was: gifted/controlling/sensory issues....

    The first psychologist really liked my daughter (and vice versa) and I'm thinking about how we can get her in to see her again.

    But in the meantime the only idea I've got is a thankfulness journal as I've seen Cheryl mention a number of times (but only occurred to me as being helpful for her tonight). Any other ideas anyone?

    I'm sure someone will have good suggestions, but I just wanted to say that you are on the right track in pursuing this! It sounds less like mere resentment and more like a larger set of issues:
    -extremes
    -controlling, demanding behaviors
    -moodiness
    -over-reacting
    -hypersensitivity

    She needs help regulating her thoughts and emotions. It is SO good that you want to stop reacting to her over-reacting and, instead, take charge of getting help for her.

    Clearly you are "bending over backwards" to attempt to satisfy, yet this in insatiable.

    We deal with this here, too. Attempts to give more (and more and more) to meet her demands will serve only to exhaust yourself. And it will not satisfy her anyway!

    If YOU like the first psychologist, pursue this asap.

    Other thoughts:

    --Does your husband have more success in setting boundaries with her? (Sometimes we moms can be pushovers and unwittingly reward demanding moodiness.) If so, follow his lead in dealing with her.

    --She may need even more clear boundaries, so her moods and extremes do not dictate which of your efforts succeeds or fails. You may need to approach her differently, at-arm's-length for your own sake right now, rather than trying to make her happy. We learned this here too. There never was a magical "happy" point.



    Prayer for you -- you have a full enough plate with your son, and now you are seeing very different needs regarding your daughter. I hope others here will offer some suggestions.

    In the meantime, take that 5:00-6:00 time and enjoy your own hot cocoa sachet! Stay replenished yourself. This is not easy, but it can get better.

    And yes, the thankfulness journal is a very concrete, daily way to begin. She may need this the remainder of her homeschooling days, or beyond, as we have found here.

    With you in this --

    Cheryl

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Siblings of Special Needs Kids

      I'm especially sensitive to this subject as I was like this myself as a child. There were definite difficulties that warranted some of my feelings, but some parts of the situation were out of my parent's control and I needed to learn to be okay in the middle of it -- while still recognizing how I truly felt. I think the trick is to acknowledge the legitimacy of her frustrations, but GENTLY point out what can be addressed in a reasonable way and what cannot be changed. And then give her tools for dealing with the negative feelings: the thankfulness journal and saying "it is good" when she meets a struggle because it is a gift that will help her grow her character. If you are a religious family, maybe point out how Christ didn't ENJOY what he was going through, but He knew it would serve a greater purpose and CHOSE to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Part of that greater purpose for her is to help her grow into a thoughtful, compassionate young lady who will have a strong understanding of the needs of those facing difficulties in their lives. But NEVER make her feel like she is a bad person for simply having these feelings. Feelings are there whether we choose them or not. It's what we THINK/DO/ENTERTAIN with them that either builds or tears down virtue.

      Is there a way that she could help with her brother's therapies/activities? Maybe that would give her a sense of meaningful participation which would help with any insecurities/resentment? I don't think I would require such help at this point, but encouraging it could help.
      Jennifer
      Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

      2019-2020 Plans:

      DS16
      MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
      MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

      DS15
      As above, plus:
      MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
      MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

      DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

      DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

      DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

      DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

      DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Siblings of Special Needs Kids

        Cheryl, thank you, thank you, thank you. I don't think I was seeing the tree for all the leaves. I will PM you shortly.

        Jen, thank you for your thoughtful words, yes we are Christians.
        Sarah

        Aussies from Sydney, Australia
        Miriam 9yo Latina Christiana, Greek Myths, Poppers Penguins, Christian Studies 1, R+S 4 (also IEW Phonetic Zoo, IEW Poetry Memorisation, HWT Cursive)
        Jonny 6.5yo (Special Needs) SC Level 1
        Elissa 3.5yo SC Level B (for preschool)
        Thomas 12 months

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Siblings of Special Needs Kids

          Hi Cheryl,

          PMing didn't work so I'll just reword things a little here. I have had concerns about mood disorders in the past as my daughter has a strong genetic possibility here. Its time for me to get that seen to again. Things improved after we saw the psychologist last time - you are correct in guessing I'm softer than my husband! I have had to learn to not apologise to M, as recommended by the psychologist before (yes I do like her too!)...I still probably do this more than I should if I've been feeling angry and feel I've overstepped (but if I say 'I'm sorry what i said made you feel embarrassed' that does not work out well, there are some unhelpful power dynamics).

          Not having much time on my own hasn't helped with feeling a bit strung out! That 'arms length' thing rings true for what I think I need to and have started to do, all the while feeling conflicted and uncomfortable abput it. Thanks for validating the need for this at times. I try to keep remembering I am her parent, not friend. I wish I could be both, but I guess its not the way things work sometimes!

          Now to go prep for the girl in question's 7th birthday tomorrow - a small surprise 'Swallows and Amazons' party.

          Thanks again!

          Sarah
          Sarah

          Aussies from Sydney, Australia
          Miriam 9yo Latina Christiana, Greek Myths, Poppers Penguins, Christian Studies 1, R+S 4 (also IEW Phonetic Zoo, IEW Poetry Memorisation, HWT Cursive)
          Jonny 6.5yo (Special Needs) SC Level 1
          Elissa 3.5yo SC Level B (for preschool)
          Thomas 12 months

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Siblings of Special Needs Kids

            Originally posted by sarahandrew View Post
            Hi Cheryl,

            PMing didn't work so I'll just reword things a little here. I have had concerns about mood disorders in the past as my daughter has a strong genetic possibility here. Its time for me to get that seen to again. Things improved after we saw the psychologist last time - you are correct in guessing I'm softer than my husband! I have had to learn to not apologise to M, as recommended by the psychologist before (yes I do like her too!)...I still probably do this more than I should if I've been feeling angry and feel I've overstepped (but if I say 'I'm sorry what i said made you feel embarrassed' that does not work out well, there are some unhelpful power dynamics).

            Not having much time on my own hasn't helped with feeling a bit strung out! That 'arms length' thing rings true for what I think I need to and have started to do, all the while feeling conflicted and uncomfortable abput it. Thanks for validating the need for this at times. I try to keep remembering I am her parent, not friend. I wish I could be both, but I guess its not the way things work sometimes!

            Now to go prep for the girl in question's 7th birthday tomorrow - a small surprise 'Swallows and Amazons' party.

            Thanks again!

            Sarah
            I let my two daughters play a game of chess on the computer with me a couple of times one week. I thought this was a great way to give them some much needed one-on-one time and it was something they loved to do even though neither of them really know how to play. The whole thing completely backfired on me because they suddenly interpreted this activity as a right that they were entitled to every day. If I said no, they got mad and I had to deal with whining and demands. I cancelled the whole idea.

            I've since tried to be clear that we will do things together, but it will not always be on their timetable or be the exact activity that they want. I've even started telling some of my older children that if they keep making me use all my energy to referee arguments and deal with backtalk, there won't be anything left of me when they want my attention for something later.

            Kids have to understand that their actions have consequences on us. This was a big mistake I made in parenting. I didn't want to "guilt" my kids, but I went too far with that and they never learned that their negative behavior hurt me and that, as a further consequence, it made it harder for me to give them the things/time they wanted from me!

            I'm finally learning that setting boundaries doesn't make me a bad mom -- it makes it possible for me to be a good one!
            Jennifer
            Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

            2019-2020 Plans:

            DS16
            MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
            MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

            DS15
            As above, plus:
            MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
            MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

            DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

            DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

            DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

            DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

            DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Siblings of Special Needs Kids

              Originally posted by jen1134 View Post
              I'm finally learning that setting boundaries doesn't make me a bad mom -- it makes it possible for me to be a good one!
              Exactly! Great discussion; important reminders.


              Btw, for private matters I might not be set up for PMing, but you can always email, cherylswope@memoriapress.com, if you would like.

              However, such seemingly private topics benefit all of us here!

              Thanks-
              Cheryl

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Siblings of Special Needs Kids

                Apologies to have taken so long to reply! We had a very sucessful surprise birthday party yesterday...then pest control this morning (not the best timing but a few days ago I discovered quite a big family of poisonous redback spiders in an area where my kids play all the time!)

                Cheryl thanks for offering your email, you are really kind . I've booked Miriam in with our local doctor next week for a psychologist referral (so we can get some assistance with cost). Your articulation of the hypersensitivity, difficulty with emotional regulation etc will also be helpful for me expressing things to him as I am not gifted in the way of articulation, particularly in these kind of matters. Miriam is really excited about getting to see Laura again...which will make everything easier - until I tell the psychologist why we're back and then hopefully we won't have loud shouting while running down the hallway of the therapy centre as happened last time!

                Jen, I totally understand the worrying about ladening kids with guilt issues. My husband will from time to time remind me to check this by saying "what would Ma or Pa do?" It is a difficult time to be a parent in this regard!

                Thanks ladies
                Sarah

                Aussies from Sydney, Australia
                Miriam 9yo Latina Christiana, Greek Myths, Poppers Penguins, Christian Studies 1, R+S 4 (also IEW Phonetic Zoo, IEW Poetry Memorisation, HWT Cursive)
                Jonny 6.5yo (Special Needs) SC Level 1
                Elissa 3.5yo SC Level B (for preschool)
                Thomas 12 months

                Comment

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