It's All Okay

Just a mom blogging about life with an autistic child.

Location: Canada

I'm a stay at home mom with two boys. Patrick is my youngest and has ASD.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

When family members treat special needs children unfairly

Life's not fair. I've known that since I was a small child. But some things just stink.

Let's say an adult family member has been taking older brother for an activity since he was about the age of 4. Even if you adjust the age (if you're one who does that), doesn't that mean that by the time Patrick is 6 he should be taken to attend such an activity? How do you approach said family member about something like this. They've paid lip service to the need to treat Patrick equally but have not come through in any meaningful way.

I think I might be complicit in this and the guilt is killing me. First, before any diagnosis, I nursed Patrick much longer than his brother. Which of course meant others couldn't care for him for long periods of time. As he grew older and his 'difficulties' became obvious, I tried not to ask for help because I didn't want to burden anyone. I would even not allow him to attend some things, mostly due to safety concerns. Over the years, things have evened out in a lot of ways...except for this one activity (which would not be the same if done with me, this is a fun, with this family member, exciting cause mom's not there type of activity).

Patrick is smart enough to know he's being left behind. Smart enough to know that it's his turn. All summer I've been not offering to send older brother, making a statement that we were simply waiting to hear when it was Patrick's turn. We never heard. I was not bold enough to suggest they take him. I want them to want him.

Now it's the end of the summer and older brother has recieved an invitation. What to do?

See, it's not Patrick who drives me to tears. It's the attitudes and actions of others, sadly even others in our family.


Blogger Niksmom said...

Oh that does stink! I wonder if you could simply talk to this family member and express the desire for Patrick to be included, too? I know that I sheltered Nik for a long time b/c I *had* to for his physical health. B/C of that, many family members simply assumed we coldn't do things so they stopped inviting us. When I spoke up they understood and started inviting us again. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder that --as w/ALL people--things can change w/time. Let them know Patrick is not only ready but eager to be included. I hope it works out. :-)

BTW, thanks for your email. :-)

Sat Sep 06, 09:56:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous farmwifetwo said...

Are they?? Or are you asking for more than they are willing to cope with?? Why can't older bro have a "treat" and maybe a different "treat" for the younger that who ever it is feels they can control the situation to make it enjoyable for all. I never, even before dx's, thought to have the boys do exactly the same activities, they are not the same.

Plus, instead of complaining, maybe a "Thank you" for providing respite when you needed it??

See my parents take the eldest camping, they don't take the little one camping even on his own. He's too much for them to handle in that situation. Yes, he's the easier going of the 2. The more friendly, more flexible, but he bolts, wanders off... and this terrifies them. At home, they will take him on his own. Take him to the splash pad, the petting zoo etc... but camping... NO.

So.. should I refuse the eldest his camping just b/c his bro can't go???

My answer - No.


Sat Sep 06, 12:29:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Mom to JBG said...

I agree with Niksmom--they might just need a nudge. Or maybe they don't realize how much Patrick has matured. I know I'm hoping my boys will be easier for others to take out sometime down the road. Right now the bolting risk is high unless they are with a really fit relative.

Sat Sep 06, 07:03:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh. I was thinking about this just today. We have very similar issues. It is painful.

Mon Sep 08, 05:56:00 PM 2008  

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