Question about siblings of special needs children

Melanie - posted on 08/01/2009 ( 13 moms have responded )

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I had my boys very close in age and they are both still very young, but I'm having some real issues with behavior, especially in my older abled 3 1/2 year old. I know a lot of it is jealousy as I would be jealous if my sibling had three therapists come to my house once a week for an hour each to play games with my sibling instead of me. Kelly, my abled son, is not potty trained, is impulsive, very loving, wants things to go his way, wants to be the center of attention, loves to play ball of any kind, tries to get into trouble to get attention, etc. John is 2 and is my differently abled son with mild Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL). He gets an hour a week of each OT, PT, and ST. He wears AFO leg braces. He's observant, reserved, very attached to momma, smart, progressing from the non-verbal state, and now in the defiant state (testing the limits) like most two year olds. *I don't know if that is a blessing or a pain, but he's exploring his world.*

Anyway, Kelly will bite John for no obvious reason. He will also shove John down into furinature or onto the floor (John has poor balance and coordination). If Kelly doesn't get his way, he will throw things at us or his brother. One second he can totally hate us, and the next second he'll love us. During my evening summer intensive class, my sister was watching the boys, and apparently Kel got mad because John had "his" sippy or "his" toy, and Kelly bit John's dingding--thank God it was through a cloth diaper, but the cloth diaper had teeth indentations in it and slight holes in the polyurethane laminate (the part that makes it waterproof). I know it had to be a strong and vicious bite for that to happen to the diaper! This has set me off. I do not believe this is appropriate behavior for a 3 1/2 year old even if he is a sibling of a differently abled child. Am I wrong? Has anyone else had these types of issues? Should I get a psych eval for Kelly (I've occasionally suspected ADHD for the past year, but school won't test because they don't see this behavior at school.) Anyone have advice for how to handle my boys' behavior? Thanks so much!

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Naoma - posted on 08/19/2009

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Melanie - How are you hanging in there honey? My oldest son is going to 7 next month....when my oldest daughter was born he started acting the same way - he would climb up in my lap and push her off while I was breast feeding, he would get out of bed in the middle of the night and come in my room and try to smother her with a pillow while she was in her bassanet....she is 4 now, and she is a perfectly well rounded individual - however, Blade's behavior did not stop....he is my special needs kid. He did not walk until he was almost a year old - and he crawled by the time he was 10 months...we just hacked it out as he was the first one....we started to notice the difference in Blade and Katana when Katana started walking at 6 months and Blade was still not talking. He started school 2 years ago, and was held back for Kindergarten the first year.....we have finally found out that blade's aggression, anger, moodswings, lack of motivation, etc....are because of D.D. (developmental delay), a severe case of Adjustment Disorder and come O.D.D. (Occupational Defiance Disorder). I am not saying your son has any of these things, however, ADHD is what they use when then cannot find anyother thing to call what is going on in boys that are extremely aggressive - and it just starts with the siblings.....when they get into school it trickles down to the teaches and schoolmates....Good luck girly, I know it can be tough, and you may want to lock yourself in a bathroom and cry - do it! But there are doctors out there that can help you out. Just remember you are a strong woman and you can handle anything!

Melanie - posted on 08/19/2009

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I have to be quick because John (my special boy who has never slept through the night) just woke up.

I've asked for eval from school and they said since he does not act that way at school, they will not do an eval on Kel. :(

Deanna - posted on 08/15/2009

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Hi Melanie! I don't know what state you're from, but you can request that an evaluation be done by the school. You should get a hold of a child advocate in your area to help navigate the school system.



My daughter (also named Melanie) is three and half years older than our special Jackpot. The therapist always included her in his therapy sessions and gave her "homework" to complete when they returned. This helped quite a bit. Even with all of that, when Jack started walking there were more problems. One particular day was a nightmare. We had two kiddie pools set up in the backyard for them. Hers had her toys and Jack's had his. My husband was out there, but turned his back for a minute. Jack went to her pool and tried to take her toys. She retaliated by holding his head under the water. My husband grabbed Jack and he was fine, but I was not. I was furious. Too furious to deal with her in the moment and sent her to her room. When I calmed down, I set her down next to me on the bed and took out Jack's baby book. I showed her the pictures of our Jackpot in the NICU hooked up to the vent, feeding tube and all the other wires and monitors. I explained that Jack was special and would NEVER be like everyone else. I told her he may NEVER stop taking her things. I just kept saying examples of things he may NEVER be able to do. Then I reminded her of all the things he can do. We went page by page through his milestones and I reminded her how she played a part in all of them. How much he loves her and lights up when he sees her. How in the NICU when she first came to see him all the alarms went off as soon as she spoke. He knew her voice from when she was in my tummy and reacted to it. How even after she's mean to him, he still smiles and tries to give her hugs. She was crying hysterically by the time I finished and I know it's a lot to lay on a 5 year old, but she got the point. She still gets angry at Jack, but not to the extent that she tries to hurt him. I don't know if this helps, but good luck with your situation.

Charesse - posted on 08/09/2009

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Hi Melanie,
I would imagine that alot of the dissention between the boys is natural sibling rivalry and jealousy on the part of Kelly. I think you are wise, though, to address the issues now rather than later. (Be careful with specific diagnoses of ADHD or other behavioral disorders at this young age.) I'd suggest keeping a journal with specific anecdotal notes when incidences occur. Note the date, time of day, specific place of occurance, persons present (even if not involved), and exactly what occured -- not your thoughts/ideas -- just the facts. Also, as hard as it may be, plan some one on one time with Kelly. Ask a friend to help with child care if necessary.
My children are much older than your children, and my special needs son is 4 years older than his brother, so some of the issues with my children didn't begin to occur until the boys were about 9 and 5. My youngest son has little patience with his brother and is embarrassed by the social and academic immaturity of his older brother. Many days pose great challenges to our family. Good luck and love to you and your family.

Melanie - posted on 08/09/2009

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Thank you, Susan! I've wanted to have Kelly tested by a pysch or at least a pysch eval, but money is a major issue with my family. I've never heard of that website, but I'll def check it out. Our whole family needs help. :( I do things one way, hubby does another, and my sis does her way (she babysits/provides me relief).

[deleted account]

check out www.siblingsupport.org which is a wonderful website by Don Meyer who has also written a couple of books about siblings of kids with special needs. I do think you might want to consult a psychologist for help with the aggressive behavior - you really need to stop that right away, and to make sure it is nothing more than sibling rivalry, which is bad enough! I'm a child and family psychologist as well as a mom of a preemie, and I work with families like ours all the time on issues like this. The key is that inappropriate behavior by either child has to have negative consequences that are age-appropriate like time-out or losing a favorite toy or mommy's attention, regardless of disability.

Melanie - posted on 08/06/2009

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It is hard, but we are getting there. As Kelly gets older (4) we can sign him up for baseball, soccer, and basketball at the YMCA. He LOVES sports. Right now, they both do parent and tot tumbling and parent and tot swimming and we trade parents off and on. John has his days where he just wants to watch at tumbling and he is still like jell-o in the water.

Now I'm starting to notice that John is being mean to Kelly. He pinches Kelly or tries to shove Kel out of the way if Kelly is sitting on my lap or beside me. Now what do I do? At times, I've told John that I'm sitting by Kel, and of course he throws a fit so bad that Kel gets up and goes to the playroom. Other times, I've tried to get John to sit on one leg while Kel sits on the other. Of course that leads to John pinching and scooting over so far that he shoves Kel off my lap. Kel has been pretty good about this situation and has not really fought back, but . . . John is SO FAR UP MY REAR END I can't do anything.

Ugg.

Thanks for all the support!

Jannine - posted on 08/05/2009

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My boys are three years apart and my youngest is special needs. At one point we had six therapy sessions a week. My eldest especially loved the PT and OT since they had toys. My son's therapists were great and would allow him to play w/the toys that weren't being currently used as long as they were respected and put back. They would also include him sometimes, ie bubbles, holding a toy to be reached for etc.

My youngest is very clingy to this day. I used to make sure that after the youngest was in bed, I spent quality time w/my eldest. I often spent a lot of time with him saying goodnite, even sitting in his room w/ a book until he fell asleep. My husband thought I was babying him too much and I still "have" to do it sometime even though he is 8, but it was for him and his well-being. It can be very frustrating and the age is a hard age no matter what, but hang in there

Laura - posted on 08/05/2009

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I have two daughters, my older daughter has special needs, she gets a lot of assistance, including OT & PT at home. She regularly goes by ambulance to the hospital due to her seizure disorder, and sometimes spends days in the hospital. My younger daughter feels very abandoned I think. We try to give her lots of attention, but it's not always enough. You should look into respite care for your son, or a social worker, counsillor type to assist your son with his feelings and emotions.

Brooke - posted on 08/03/2009

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I know how you feel...my boys are not that close in age but...We allow my oldest to do his special activites...at first it was soccer, then it lead to Karate but my point is we included his special activity. We allowed him to pick it out and made him stick with it...giving him a choice (it doesn't have to be sports, it could be anything) and making just as big of deal at his activity as is made by the OT, PT and whom ever else may come into the picture. it helps. As my youngest gets older we do different activities that include the whole family. I hope that helps...I do understand

Melanie - posted on 08/01/2009

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Heather--the boys' dr said to pick your battles and let them fight it out unless it causes or is going to cause bodily harm or safety issues. I probably do need to call her about the biting privates incident just so she is aware and might be able to make more recommendations. We've discussed Kelly's behavior towards John at every check up or sick call since John was a few months old. :( As for the mommy and Kelly time, it is great to do something with him and I know he feels so special when we do that, but as soon as we walk in the door or John comes back in the picture, Kelly will shove him down.

Kim--Kelly is a wonderful helper when we are out. He tries to keep John in line, and encourages him to do EVERYTHING. I honestly think John would be a lot farther behind physically/developmentally if Kelly weren't running around everywhere and saying "come on JohnJohn!" John wants to be just like his big brother! We try to keep Kel involved in the daily routines of therapy and stuff, but often he wants the therapist to play with him or just play with the therapists toys. I have to remind Kelly every time that the therapist is here to see John but you are welcome to help or ask if you can play with a toy they aren't using. (Why are other people's toys more interesting even if the kid has the same toy?) Thanks for all your help and if anyone else has ideas or advice, I'm grateful for it.

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hi Melanie,I have a similar situation at my house.My oldest has CP who is 9yrs old but only is around the age of a 6mth old (physically). My 4 yr old does alot of things your Kelly does. . Maybe Kelly can start being a "helper" for John. Try including him in as much as you can with Johns thearpy and daily life activities. This may give him a feeling of importance and at the same time teach him that John needs the family to work together in all of his care.Good Luck keep us posted. : )

Heather - posted on 08/01/2009

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I would talk to your son's dr. It sounds like he's acting out for attention. I know how difficult it can be to divide your attention. My son, Jacob is differently abled, 5 yrs old functions at about 1 yr old, and we have an abled 15 mths old girl, Anna. It's really difficult to make sure they both get the attention they need. That's why we didn't have Anna until Jacob was stable and there's 4 yrs between them. (it's the other way around for you!) Have you tried having some mommy and Kelly alone time? or a little ritual only the 2 of you do?

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