Since the day my beautiful son, Lachlan, was diagnosed with ASD in February of 2009 I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve googled autism, read about autism, watched shows about autism, talked about autism. I would be a multi millionaire, at least. I consider myself a walking autism expert without the certified qualifications.
These days, at least once a week, I come across a story about ASD on the news, on the Internet or in the newspaper. It’s definitely in the mainstream media now more than it’s ever been. As someone who wants to shout autism awareness from the rooftops, this is amazing. This is what we want! The good stories & the bad. I read them all. The one thing I don’t remember ever seeing though is talking about the sibling/s of children with autism which astounds me, not in a good way.
We talk about how it affects marriages, finances, even the bloody public, but never the siblings. In my experience, the closest people in these children’s lives.
The relationship between my sons was a huge concern for me in the beginning. There are 2 years, 6 months & 3 days between my boys. A perfect gap in my opinion. Would autism never allow them to form the bond that brothers should?
We were in the grips of autism when Master 7, my beautiful Oliver, came along. We’d just moved to WA, I didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha. I had no fucking idea what the fuck to do. I must be way more of a bad bitch than I ever give myself credit for, for functioning during this time. Hats off to the Fathership for sticking around to, I was a basket case.
I remember laying in my hospital bed, with my fresh baby boy snuggled up next to me & wondering if we were going to walk the same path. I was terrified. Would I again be the parent in the room whose child couldn’t do what everyone else’s does. Have 7000 different appointments every week. Be so consumed with “fixing” him that I don’t get to enjoy him. As a first time parent that fucking sucks. I’ve no doubt it would if it was your 1st or 11th child but I believe there is something about your 1st that rips at your heart that little bit more. Probably due to a lack of experience & a heavy reliance on the parenting books that we follow like fuckwits. One day I am going to have my own parenting book bonfire. Burn mother fuckers burn.
Since day 1, Oliver has attended 90% of his brothers therapy. I didn’t drive at that time & the Fathership worked, so 5 days a week I’d pile my boys into the pram & journey across the country side from one appointment to the next. I was in such a daze but nothing was going to stop me. I didn’t ask for help from anyone, I just did what I had to, no complaints. The best therapy was 2 bus rides & 2 train rides away so that’s where we were going. 0 fucks. I couldn’t click my fingers & make it better but I could give him the best therapy we could afford. Oliver has spent a lot of time in waiting rooms with children different than himself. He’s made friends with these children. He’s initiated games with these children. He’s made them smile & they have made him smile. I didn’t realise at the time what an incredible experience this was for him but I know it’s a special part of who he is today. He has never once asked “what’s wrong” with anyone, funnily enough it’s Lachlan that does that. Oliver is compassionate towards people that he knows face bigger struggles than he does. Last year when a new boy arrived in his class & Oliver found out he had autism he made a point to be his friend. He included him wherever he could & he made sure to tell his class that his brother has autism to. I think that was his way of saying “back off people, I’ve got this, expert coming through”. He would come home & tell me about his new friend with understanding & patience & was very sad when his new friend left the school. His Pre Primary teacher told me that she believed a lot of who he is comes from his experiences with the special needs world. I could not agree more. That & my stellar parenting obviously, HA, pfft.
As little boys Oliver looked up his brother, he chose to play with him in a park full of children, he included him, he loved him. Simply, to Oliver, Lachlan is just Lachlan.
We are lucky that Lachlan can fit in to a typical situation with ease & no fuss but socially he does struggle. I am so glad I was able to give him the worlds bestest friend, his brother. The bond is real & the bond is very deep.
I felt so guilty when the wave of happiness & relief came over me when I realised Oliver was not on the spectrum. Then I felt sad. Then I felt relieved. Then I felt guilty. Then I felt sad. What an emotional minefield.
There have been instances at the park, at school, on play dates where Oliver has had to stand up for Lachlan & while I never ever expect him to do that, I fucking love it when he does. It’s never anything huge just making sure he is included & being treated fairly. He is my eyes & ears without me ever asking him to be. They play together at school. They eat their lunch together at school. They squabble like brothers. They love like brothers. It’s all far more “normal” than I ever imagined it to be. They really are best friends. The sound of them giggling together is the sweetest sound of all.
When Oliver goes on a sleepover, Lachlan can’t wait for him to come home. He misses him. Oliver loves getting home to him as well. Within minutes they are out on the trampoline or playing basketball or the PlayStation. & usually within 20 minutes there’s been one fight but that makes it all feel so typical. When Oliver came back from his friends house the other day he had brought his brother a chocolate bar with his $4. Little did I know he’d promised him he would before he left. This gave me the warmest fuzzies. I’m not sure there are many siblings out there that would do the same.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if the older Oliver gets, he will leave his brother behind. In this moment I can’t imagine that ever happening, but 7 years ago I didn’t imagine this happening either so who knows. In my heart of hearts I think they are together for life. Oliver is thoughtful, accepting & kind & I am so proud of him. When parents have him over they always tell me what a dream he is. The peacemaker. Well mannered. No problems. Music to my ears.
I know we all feel like our children are extra special, as we should, but I think this little boy really is.
He can be a right little shit who gets on my last nerve often. But I see & I feel his good heart every day. I believe children who grow up with special needs sibling are special children who grow to be special adults. I think it opens their eyes at a young age to the fact that everyone is different, what an extraordinary lesson to learn first hand. They’ve lived it.
There will come a day when Oliver & I have to discuss his brothers autism but I am following his lead. We will talk about it when he needs to, not when I need to. This is his journey & it is separate from mine. We talk about autism in the house & all gather around the TV to watch the latest developments. Lachlan knows he’s on the spectrum & talks about his autism people all the time. I don’t think either of them fully get it yet but one day they will. When the time is right for them. For now I just love to watch them grow together & love each unconditionally.
It’s really beautiful & I’m really proud.
I wouldn’t change a thing!