The other non – autistic child in our home is our teenage daughter that came to us 2 years after we first got married. I was 22 when she arrived and I can still feel her existence in my arms when I first held her. That is something I will always treasure. She started off as a very shy little pre-kinder and has become one of the most social teenage bugs you will ever meet. I have always felt that I have never needed to brag about her because she stands out all on her own….but the truth is I have an amazing daughter who makes me proud in the goods times and yes in the challenging times as well.
So when our monkey first told us he was on his way, it was Mother’s Day, we sat our 12 year daughter and informed her about the news. She started crying. She was excited and confused about her “only child” role, and afraid of what type of sister she would be.
Four years, and an autism diagnosis later, I sometimes stop and think about her experience as a sister to our little monkey. Of course she knows and we know that she loves him, there is no doubt that. However, last year she had her first “boyfriend”, crazy time for me but that’s a separate story, and she got to meet his little brothers. Those little guys happened to be about the same age as our monkey. She came home one day and said that she really never knew how different our monkey was until she met these little fellows. They verbally spoke, played together, and had none of the challenges that she has seen our monkey go thru. Those little guys didn’t go to therapy or had a therapist show up to our house every Sunday.
I don’t want to speak on her behalf and I am hoping one day she can contribute to Monkeynism, but I think about what her “challenges” are as a sister to an autistic child. I wonder what she is thinking that exact moment when her friends hear or see how her brother as different. How does she interact with teenagers in her school who have the same diagnosis? I have asked her, but again I don’t want to speak on her behalf. She went from being an only child who never had to share her parents and suddenly everything changed. We see when she gets sick and how sometimes we have failed to give her the same attention we give our monkey. I know that she notices the difference. My wife and I remind ourselves that we have a teenager, and she has her challenges and needs as well.
I know that in the greater scope of life she is ok, but I also remind her that she is still my sweet baby girl. And yes, she still has me wrapped around her finger…..
Te quiero mi niña Hermosa!!!!