Recognising the challenges faced by being a sibling of a child with PDA (or of an additional need in general), is something that many of us parents discuss frequently.
I know in our household it is a very sensitive subject. How do we parent siblings when one may be neurotypical and another has an additional need? What strategies need to be in place and do we parent them the same? Do we take enough time out to focus on our often forgotten siblings?
A fellow parent has written about this subject and I have found it a comprehensive document:
I have met this oldest sibling and I believe she is a credit to her parents – she is patient, kind and understanding. The approach they are using enables her to get some ‘special time’ which then prevents her from ‘rejecting’ her sister, whilst still focussing on what her own individual needs may be. I particularly like their creative approach so that they can include their eldest’s choices/opinions whilst still allowing their PDA child to feel in control. A great tip that I intend to use myself!
For us, our middle child is the one most affected. One of the great difficulties I face at the moment is the copying of behaviours her elder sibling exhibits. One of my own coping strategies is to focus some key time with this sibling so that she still feels special. At age 3 she has had to learn to be mature by taking herself to a safe place when I order her to. I don’t want her to lose the innocence she should be experiencing in childhood. I am often impressed by her understanding already, she tells me she just needs to bring her sibling her most favourite toy and that helps her to calm down. She is not afraid to enter the storm. However, I must not forget what her needs are in the process.
I hope you enjoy the read!
It’s so true that helping siblings is one of the trickiest balances of all. Of course most children can be taught understanding, which is great, but as you say, at one point are they sacrificing their own childhood? Our eldest does the trick with getting the necessary soft toy, it definitely helps 🙂
I’m in awe of biggestbruv; he’s 9 but has developed into a role of carer, tutor, best friend and shield to our youngest with PDA. Sure he has his moments but overwhelmingly he gets it spot on. My ‘guilt’ kicks in when I weigh up the time and energy spent on one vs the other. PDA siblings have all their own NT childhood crap deal to navigate plus at times a hostile environment to do it in… fighting for a parents attention probably comes second to, striving for a ‘normal’ family in our case because as ‘good’ as he is, what he really wants is a ‘normal’ littlebruv 🙁
It was very interesting to read how you described your three year old! With us it’s also our youngest, and only girl, who plays a major role in getting our eldest to calm down. She can’t stand seeing or hearing her big brother upset and, without fear, will ask me if she can go to him to give him a hug. She’s been doing this since she was 18 months old (she’s just over 2 now).
Our third son (6) is the one who currently seems to suffer the most though. He is extremely emotionally sensitive, so the very violent meltdowns have definitely left scars.
It is so difficult doing it right for all children. And as parents we constant feel like we are failing all of them :-/
I know exactly what you mean about over analysing the tactics used, it feels wrong when we have to go to them to calm them down. I can resonate with every part of your blog x