I’ve read multiple times on autism parenting support groups the question of having a second child after a diagnosis of autism. There are many concerns typed out there of the possibility of having another child with disabilities, if their diagnosed child will be nice to a baby or be able to handle the change of adding to the family, or if the first child really needs all the parent’s attention and if a second child will be neglected because of the demand of having the first having autism… among the hundreds of other questions adults think about when deciding if they want to try to expand their family.
So I’m here to tell you why I stand strongly in the camp that siblings are wonderful companions for those with autism.
- They learn to love little ones
- Built in play dates
- Dealing with loud noise
- Sharing is a life skill
- Keeping up with Social skills
- Learning from peers
- Friends for life
They learn to love little ones
This morning Mr. L asked for Nutella on toast, I had just finished helping him when Little Miss A came running into the kitchen asking for some too. Mr. L promptly handed his plate and breakfast to his toddler sister, said, “Here you go” and kissed her on the head. He then put more bread in the toaster and waited patiently for his. No fighting, no yelling, and he easily could have walked off with his original plate and told her, good luck! But he shared of his own doing 💕
Built in play dates
Any family can benefit from having built in friends. But it takes off a level of stress knowing that if Mr. L has a hard time making friends with peers that we have been able to nurture friendships for him with his brother and sister.
Dealing with loud noise
Let’s be real, kids are loud, toddlers are crazy loud sometimes, and babies can go on for hours. Anyway you look at it, kids are not constantly quiet, calm, reasonable, tranquil or unruffled.
When Mr. C was a baby and would cry, if I could calm him with nursing Mr. L would come over and pat me and give me a look like, good job momma! Thank you for helping Mr. C stop being loud. When Little Miss A was a new born, Mr. L worried any time she cried and would run to me and ask me to help her stop crying. I could literally be making him a sandwich and he would rather me stop half way and go soothe his little sister. His baby sister could slap him in the face and he would ask me to help calm her! You get the picture, Mr. L didn’t like the loud sounds but learned to adjust and is now back to being one of the loudest of them.
Sharing is a life skill
This is another one that any kid can benefit from, but there is an added level for Mr. L. He has a need for perfection with his toys and his art work. He needs his train tracks set a certain way, his cars lined up just right, and his drawings just the way he imagined them before touching pencil to paper. So having daily opportunities to learn to share has been a huge learning curve for him every time he learns a new level of communication.
Keeping up with social skills
My husband and I feel lucky that our boys are so close in age because Mr. C pushes Mr. L to keep up with him verbally, socially, and just in general with life skills. Our oldest may spike in learning skills or have his ups and downs, but if he plateaus and Mr. C catches up, Mr. L naturally catches on and often gets nudged forward. There are things that Mr. L will have a difficult time learning and Mr. C is starting to see this, but Mr. C is still a natural teacher by example.
Learning from peers
Kids can learn from parents, care givers, and other adults. But there is another kind of teaching that comes from kids. There have been times when both my husband and I have tried to explain a reason for why we needed Mr. L to do something and he refused. But then Mr. C stepped in on his own and talked to Mr. L and was able to get him to do what we needed him to do. Sometimes kids just have that unspoken rule that they only trust those ages 6 and under 😏
Friends for life
This one isn’t a given, but I believe parents play a part in this and can influence it happening. It’s too soon to say, but I plan on encouraging this one and I hope that all 3 of my kiddos will have each other to talk to, long after footie pajamas are out grown, the baby teeth are lost and the teenage hormones are worked out.
Do you have siblings? Do you wish you had siblings? Tell us about it in the comments below 😊