What is Neurodivergent Sibling Life?
Aug 19, 2020
What is neurodivergent sibling life?
It's one ND child struggling with the sensory dysregulation triggered by their new baby sibling. It's one ND child experiencing anxiety around the triggering of sensory regulation and needing incredible space away from the other sibling. It's having a washing basket in between the children in the back seat of the car to keep them safe from each other.
It's doing our best to keep siblings separated from each other in times of fragility or escalated anxiety. It's understanding that one ND child can trigger another. It's taking two cars everywhere we go, until we no longer have to. It's having crucial child-friendly discussions about disability and equity, as opposed to fairness.
It's nurturing with compassion the child who missed out today. It's nurturing with compassion the child who needs more of us today. It's having realistic boundaries and negotiables VS non negotiables. It's understanding that when one ND child senses a loss of autonomy or control, they may target the next most vulnerable family member - their sibling, to refill their control cup.
It's accepting there will be diversity at meal times. It's riding waves that feel insurmountable. It's worrying; yet having faith that our children will one day come to at least accept one another. It's understanding that physical aggression is a common expression of communicating HUGE feelings. It's understanding the anxiety one ND child will have around their access to us being compromised by their ND sibling.
It's learning to have a sense of humour. It's celebrating the beginning glimpses of change in siblings relationships, no matter when they take place. It's noticing when we no longer have to use two lounge rooms and two televisions, but being okay if we do.
It's seeing our children in the same room; perhaps disengaged or disconnected from one another, but in the same room nonetheless.
It's feeling our heart expand inside our chest when our children show each other small kindnesses. It's looking at each other and asking -
"Is this really happening? Are they really going shopping together?"
"Did she really help her sister in the bathroom?!"
"Oh Lord, remember when they used to eye gouge each other and bite?"
It's knowing and understanding that sibling rivalry exists; even when it appears to exist on steroids. It's knowing and understanding that with the passage of time, our children learn the most wonderful values, thoughts, feelings, beliefs and skills having lived through the most challenging and difficult relationships under the most challenging and difficult circumstances, if we, as adults, know and understand.
Image credit: Ketut Subiyanto