Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 10 - Siblings

Day 10 of Better Hearing and Speech Month


If you google search "special needs siblings" you come up with a bunch of really great articles and blogs related to children whose siblings have special needs.  I came across two great sites - Siblings and Children with Special Needs and What Siblings Would Like Parents and Service Providers to Know.

Bee-bee didn't ask for a brother with special needs.  Granted, Cha-cha's special needs are not as severe as others, but Bee-bee's life is a little different than her peers who don't have a sibling with special needs.  For the most part, Bee-bee has been very positive about her brother.  She's even attended more therapy sessions than Hubby thanks to EI before he was three and weekday afternoon speech sessions.  She's attended some doctor appointments and watched her brother recover from surgery twice.  She's heard me talk about my frustrations and she's seen my tears.  She's been the biggest cheerleader to get Cha-cha to say words, and I've seen her throw mini temper tantrums when he can't say something right - especially when it's her name.

In the past year, we've really stepped up and offered opportunities for Bee-bee to do things on her own.  Overnight trips to grandparents' houses, dance lessons, and soccer practice and games have been added into her life to give her space and her own time.  Hubby and I also plan time for her to spend with us one on one and do special things with us so she doesn't feel left out.  She only attends one of Cha-cha's therapy sessions a week (and she's expected to complete her homework during that time).  When she complains, we often remind her that her brother now sits through her dance classes and occasional soccer game.  I've also now made it a point to not have her come to Cha-cha's major doctor's appointments.  Dentist and sick visits are fine, but now that they are both older, he should have the same privacy that she has with her doctor.

There have been some benefits to having a sibling that needs a little bit more attention.  Bee-bee has incredible patience and has had the opportunity to watch specialists and therapists model techniques and at a young age, she could apply them.  When Cha-cha was diagnosed, the doctor told us to come up with a nickname for Bee-bee so that her brother had a name for her so they could interact.  That's how "Bee-bee" came to be.  Bee-bee spent an entire hour in the pool with her brother saying, "Say Bee-Bee" when he wanted her to swim over to him under the water and say "Boo!" when she got to him. Within an hour, he had it down pat.  They were both determined and they did it together.  Within another hour, she had him saying "Ma-ma" for the first time.  All because of her.  We had spent 2 years 4 months and countless therapy sessions trying to get him to say it and it just took his big sister and a pool to get him to say it.  When she was 5 and heading into Kindergarten, she told me, "I don't know if I'm suppose to study my Kindergarten stuff or my Speech Pathology stuff." At 5, she knew the difference between an utterance, an approximation and a word and she knew over 50 different ASL signs. She has the ability to be creative and entertain herself when I'm working with Cha-cha.  On her own, she brought in her "My Brother is Very Special" book to her first grade class and read it to teach everyone what Apraxia is all about.  She's walked in 2 Apraxia walks, and is registered for her 3rd (however, it was a tough lesson to learn that she wasn't going to be directly getting the $250+ she raised for the first walk).

When it is all said and done, I hope that Hubby and I have given her and her brother a "normal" childhood.  I hope that she doesn't dwell on the negatives of having a brother with special needs, but that it teaches her to be more understanding of others and maybe even spark a career in a helping or medical profession.

No comments: