One of the main concerns in our home is how to balance our time and attention between our two small children. We have come to realize that there will probably always be a bit of an imbalance between the two since JD naturally needs so much attention because he has autism. Here are a few things we have found that work really well for our family to spread the love.
- Play time- This doesn’t ever seem to go as planned but it still seems to work somehow. Usually we take a ball and one parent sits with each child while we roll it back and forth. It was suggested by one of JD’s therapists after Gwen decided she was going to push all his buttons to get him to pay attention to her. It started when she was only 10 months old. He generally ignores her and she decided that any reaction was better than no reaction and was turning into quite the bully. JD is not always happy about trying family play time but we always try to incorporate some sort of time together if at all possible. It has helped curve Gwen’s aggression to JD because she feels like she is getting some attention from him. Even something as simple as having JD grab a toy and offer it to Gwen works on some days.
- Alone Time- If you have more than one child you will understand how different it feels when you are back to one on one time with a child. This stratigy is much easier said than done but we try and do it at night. We will have one parent stay home with one child while the other takes child number two out. We keep it simple and the outings are usually errands that need to be run anyway but the one child really seems to be happy to go alone with just mommy or daddy. The parent at home also makes this a quality time by turning off the TV and just interacting with the child. If JD is the one home we use this time to implement floor time therapies.
- Parent Time- Taking one child out with both parents. This one is the hardest for our family to implement. Often if we have a spare moment where child care is involved my husband and I would rather spend it without the kids. Alone time for parents is a must! However every once in a while we will take one of the kids (usually Gwen) on a “date night” with us. We can focus all of our attention on her and she soaks it all up.
I can only imagine how hard it is to have a sibling with autism that seems to have a different set of rule and will often get more attention. My husband and I are both middle children from large families so we understand how you can often find imbalance even where there are no special needs involved. Granted our children are both young and right now this is what works for our family. We know we will have to get more creative as they get older.