Thursday 10 May 2012

To laugh or cry - Autism and siblings issues

I found this in Tamsin's book bag this week. 

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did a bit of both.

In case you can't quite read it, it says (literally):

Plees raiz money 1p
for sasha and Artisam
at Tamsincurtis\curtis2\

Must have a word with that girl about her spellings.

Joking aside, I found it very poignant, and it's highlighted what I've been most worried about for some time now.

Sasha (our younger, ASD girl) is actually ticking along fine, bit behind in her reading and writing maybe, but for now she's happy, she doesn't have a care in the world.

Tamsin (2 years older sister) on the other hand, seems to be carrying the weight of 'Artisam' (Autism) on her shoulders. I felt bad because she had vaguely mentioned something about this, about asking her classmates for 1p, a week or so ago, and I'd probably smiled and brushed her off a bit whilst saying it wasn't really the done thing. She's not mentioned it again at home, but has obviously spent time at school thinking about this and writing/drawing a picture. The girl on the left is shouting; the girl on the right is crying.

As we have a lot going on right now (parties and birthdays coming up in triplicate!!), I didn't mention this to her after I found it. I really want to, to try and understand her feelings, but more to the point to help her feel like she is understood. To tell her that we care, so much.

It is a tougher life for siblings of children with Special Needs. They can't play with their brothers or sisters in the same way other children can. Their parents probably get more upset than usual if they are not nice to their siblings, say the wrong thing or set the wrong example which could be copied for years. They may have to leave places early if the sibling can't cope with it any more, or not be taken out so much in the first place. They might be embarrassed by other people staring at their sibling, or by their sibling not caring that their behaviour is different and not 'the norm'.

Tamsin has blurted out a few times over the last 6 months things like 'I wish I had a normal sister' and 'I wish I could have a sister who doesn't have autism'. Although I'm sure Tamsin loves her little sister, I do find it difficult not to get upset when I hear that. I just have to remember how difficult Sasha can be though, and how confusing it must be for Tamsin to not really understand why Sasha acts the way she does

I've been worried about this for a while now. I've asked for help from various different sources but nothing has really come back. Sibs support groups seem to start from when the siblings are a bit older, but I think as this sheet shows, it's on Tamsin's mind now, all the time. She can't get away from it. I'm extremely nervous that this can lead to more worrying mental issues, but even as I write that I know many people will think I'm over-reacting.

What I think Tamsin needs is someone outside of the family to talk to about all of this. But where to go? Any offers?! How do we bring it up anyway?