Thursday, January 3, 2013

Being the Other One


I want to recommend a very helpful book I just finished because the subject is dear to my heart. It’s called Being The Other One: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister Who Has Special Needs.

One of the many challenges our families face is the impact our special needs children have on their siblings. I think we’ve all seen it, whether it’s the abuse, the stress, or just being a difficult playmate, our kids face very unique challenges that if not addressed can lead to future problems.

This insightful book is written by Kate Strohm, a counselor, health educator, and director of Siblings Australia, a program that provides resources and support for siblings of children with special needs. Kate also has her own experience having a sister with cerebral palsy. This book does a wonderful job of sharing what our children are experiencing and what we as parents can do to help our kids thrive under the circumstances.

Over the years I’ve made a conscious effort to give special attention to my middle son who is often lost in the chaos or left to fend for himself as I try to regain peace in our home. I’ve established an open line of communication where my middle son can request “alone talks” where he can express his fears or frustrations about his brothers. He seems to really appreciate this. In addition, I’ve taken him out for special “Mommy dates” where he can do something fun without the sensory limitations his brothers bring as well as serve in his classroom so he can feel that I’m invested in him too. For the first time, he’s participating in a sport so he can have his “own thing” and expand his social life outside our home and this week he’s meeting with our therapist to work on any feelings he may have. But with all that, I still have moments where I fall short.... way short of doing what’s best for my middle son.

More than once I’ve been guilty of not having patience with my middle son when he has a weak moment, I expect him to always have it together, which is completely unfair since I can’t even do this. I’ve also been quick to make him give in to a situation just to keep the peace, something that I no longer do, yet I still feel terrible about it. Also, I don’t always acknowledge what feelings he may have after a rage, instead all my focus goes to the child who was on the floor, not the kid who sat alone in another room waiting for the storm to pass. I also recognize that he doesn’t get to have play dates because his brothers have embarrassed him in the past, he doesn’t get to do typical fun outings often because the other kids can’t handle crowds or loud noises and he has to live in a home where he’s scared of his own brothers. And the list goes on... boy do I hate this list!

The reality is that I can’t make his brothers’ challenges go away, but I can become more aware of what his needs are and go from there. For me, this book did that. It helped me understand what my middle son is experiencing and what I can do to make the best of our situation. This book also brought me hope, teaching me that under the right care, our kids can overcome these challenges and be better people in the world because of it.

 * * *

This book was not given to me and I was not asked to review this book. I found this book at a Barnes and Noble book shelf.

Amazon Link to this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Being-Other-One-Growing-Brother/dp/1590301501

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