A Sibling of a Special Needs Child Needs a Respite

My youngest coming towards me angry swinging his hands and yelling. As he is moving closer, I try to get up off the ground; scared, tired, and overwhelmed wondering what type of damage my four year old son is about to do to me.

Moving quickly after my back surgery was hard and painful, but I have to move because he is coming at me. I have to protect myself and my oldest son. My night in shining armor steps in and starts taunting his younger brother, It works the younger one now goes after his brother which gives me time to get up off the ground and able to move in and protect both myself and my oldest.

Austin, who is six, now takes on the job as protector. Once again the thoughts come; over flowing:

What type of mother am I, to allow this?

Does he know that I depend on him as much as he depends on me?

He deserves a better parent than me.

Does he know I love him?

The guilt eats me away, and yet how can I change our lives to make it better? Our youngest demands our time with therapies and continued behavior support, and the financial resources he has went through. The doctors cannot make up their mind what is wrong with him: Bipolar, Speech, Aspergers, or Sensory?

I am exhausted and feel that I may lose it at any time and I can barely hold on to reality; actually I don’t even know what reality is. Thoughts cloud my mind I had such plans for my two boys, and how I knew I could be a perfect mother to these two boys.  I did it again, I cannot even think through one thought my mind was on my oldest, the one who feels it is his job to protect his mother. How easy my mind goes back to the needs of the younger one, and what do I have to do to keep Austin on my mind.

This was our lives 6 years ago. I was so wrapped up in the life of “Special Needs Child” I am amazed to see how well Austin has turned out. At 12 years old he earned $410 for World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine participating in fasting for 30 hours and last year he was the team lead for the Walk for Psoriasis in San Francisco.  He loves to work with children and is always staying busy at All in Need, Family Support volunteering in crafts or playing with the younger kids. More than anything he wants to go on a mission trip to work with children. He has decided he wants to be an Occupational Therapist and specialize in working with children who have special needs. 

How did I get so lucky?

I wish I knew.

But, the first thing I realized is that even though Yaakov, our youngest had special needs, My oldest, myself , and husband all had needs that needed to be met also.  For a while our family had to split up, our youngest who would lose it at Starbucks and try to run out in the road. Because of the behaviors often one parent would stay home with him and the other would go out with Austin, so Austin could have a life outside of our stressful home.

I would allow Austin to have friends over, but would first tell the friends parents what could happen.  

Austin was involved in a sports giving him time out of our home and also to release the daily stress. But, at least once a month I would take Austin out on a date. Our dates would be going out for ice cream, getting a Starbucks coffee, and I even took him out of school to the movies a couple of times.

My favorite time alone with him was when he was in elementary school which was about a mile and half away, his younger brother went to another school and took the bus. It didn’t take me long to realize if we walked to school he would talk to me the whole time to school and back, but when I drove he didn’t open his mouth. That is when our tradition of walking started to and from school.

I want to say that Austin no longer steps in, but when he sees me struggling with a 10 year old boy who is upset and angry he no longer has to protect me, but he still will try to help calm his younger brother down.

I know we are parents of special needs kids and they take so much of our time, but many of us are parents of typical developing children too. They need us just as much as our special needs child.

I challenge you to take a minute and tell your typical developing child how much you love them.

Tell them one thing you appreciate about them and then think of something special you can do with them that they will never forget. I know Austin will never forget me waking him up to take him to the midnight showing of Hunger Games on a school night.

Lastly, Austin doesn’t just have a heart of gold. Austin also loves to write poetry, and Austin wrote this poem.


A Brother with Special Needs

By Austin Green

A brother with special needs is like trying to tame a wolf yet not impossible but not easy

It is like trying to teach a penguin to fly and a cat to dance

It has been hard and caused me much grief but god has helped me and it has been meant to be

Sometimes I think that he is spoiled but he is not he is treated the same as me

It has been tough and times have been glum others sad but mostly it is fun

You’ll learn to love a creature like him it may be hard but it’s easy at the end