My son Cameron (with Autism) is 5 now which means that we’re starting to get him into programs that will benefit him, such as dance, bowling and gymnastics. The last two week-ends was gymnastics.
The program putting this on for the Autism children didn’t expect a big turn out and so they invited siblings along as well, which is great for us because Cameron’s little brother Tyler (without Autism) is just about 3 years old and eager to do what his big brother does.
It turns out that the community was quite eager for this program because instead of 8 children, they got closer to 25. So they had to do some quick shuffling and splitting into groups and such. However, this also meant that they had to tell everyone that siblings are no longer welcome.
Now we’re faced with a 3 year old that absolutely loves gymnastics and asks every single day to go back and yet, he can’t go back… but his older brother can.
It’s rough as a parent when you have to break a little heart.
But I know that this is just the first of many many times that this will happen.. because Cameron has Autism and Tyler does not. This means that, for the most part, the rest of their lives will have this kind of separation. One or the other will almost always be excluded and it will always be hard for them.
One thing we are lucky about is that we found a school for both Autism students and regular students. They’ll be on different floors but in the same school.. and being more than 2 years apart, they wouldn’t really see much of each other anyhow. But it’s still great knowing they’ll be in the same school anyhow.
For many parents, that’s not the case however. Their children get split up and they have to choose between therapy programs, such as ABA, or home schooling. Some even are forced to put their children with Autism into regular school where they have to fend for themselves as best they can.
In any case, this usually results in even more separation…. where siblings no longer get to be together or share in their experiences.
Now, most parents would tell you that it’s rather normal, simple age differences will do that, interest differences will do that… so on and so forth. And for the most part that is true. But until you actually have one child with a disorder/disability and another without, you never truly realize just how much of a huge difference it can make.
Yes ages and interests put children on different paths but not nearly as much as you might think until you are forced to have them doing different things at different times.
And so begins a long journey of disappointments and heart aches where two brothers will forever be worlds apart. The saving grace being that at the end of the day, they’ll return home to the same house with the same family and share in the things that they both enjoy here.
One day big brother will look after his little brother and little NT brother will look after his big Autistic brother and despite being in two different worlds, they’ll be there for each other. At least, that’s what I hope for. But until then, they need to learn to watch each other go off and do something that they wish they could do too.