Autism’s Invisible Victims: The Siblings

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It is a virtual epidemic. One in 88 American children is diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this week, Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing on how the federal government can better respond to the dramatic rise in autism rates. Yet for all this concern, one large affected group is being routinely overlooked: the siblings. Of the 839 studies reported within the past four years in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, only four were devoted to siblings, and their primary focus was on genetic risk rather than life experience.

(MORE: What to Make of the New Autism Numbers)

Over the past five years, I conducted in-depth interviews with a nonclinical population of 35 siblings of children with autism, and their pain, grit and silent endurance was akin to children who grow up with a parent or sibling with a chronic, debilitating disease. As they told their stories, often for the first time, they spoke of brothers who lurch from a gentle touch, stare fixedly at a moving fan and avert their gaze from a smiling face. They described sisters who scream when a chair is moved an inch out of place or repeatedly recite the names of flowers that begin with p.

Perhaps the most striking motif across interviews was the fierce devotion they showed to their affected brother or sister. One youngster relived a catastrophic event when her brother quietly drifted away while in her charge. The image of his wandering the streets, unable to speak his name, was forever etched in her mind, her carefree lollipop days forever gone. Gripped by the specter of losing him again, she became as vigilant as a tiger mom and created an invisible tether connecting each to the other. In another family, Marion, the older sister of a spectrum child, applied to Harvard and was promptly accepted. But she seriously considered refusing the offer because “I couldn’t abandon Elena when I was literally my sister’s keeper.”

(MORE: Autism and Air Pollution: The Link Grows Stronger)

Despite their devotion, most siblings also resented the affected child. Though they fully appreciated the burdens their parents shouldered, they lamented a family that totally revolved around one child. Major school events were often attended by only one parent, the other staying at home with their spectrum child. “Hey, what about me? I have special needs too,” one remembered protesting. Not surprisingly, many envied their friends’ “normal” sibling relationships. They longed for mutual support, shared secrets and the imaginative play enjoyed by typical sibling pairs. They fervently envied the freedom to quarrel without fear of disaster. The wish for a sibling confidante was never more ardent than during clashes between their parents.

Which is the larger point. Autism isn’t just a health crisis; it’s a family crisis that impacts all members. Sometimes the impact on siblings can be positive. Aware of their comparative good fortune, these siblings were inclined toward sacrifice and mature beyond their years. Most were prepared to assume full responsibility for adult siblings in later years, and many enter an array of helping professions. But until we recognize autism’s collateral effects and attend to the special needs of the whole family, we will not really be grappling with the far-reaching but deeply felt impact of this disorder.

MORE: Ai Jen-poo: The Invisible World of Nannies, Housekeepers and Caregivers

43 comments
noBodyImportant
noBodyImportant

I am very glad to see this internet piece that finally acknowledges the seriousness of the issue. Yes, I grew up with an Autistic sibling. A severely effected one too..back in the 70's and 80's when it was even less well understood. The condition was strong enough that when I see a person with Ausbergers today, it's very hard for me to even think of him or her as Autistic. Yes, I know they are, but it's on the other extreme of the spectrum that I know. It seems much of the recent epidemic falls on that side  too. I would guess while still painful, it has more opportunities for manageability? My sibling couldn't even communicate, after all. When I think of my child hood, it was one filled with intense shame, guilt, isolation, emotional avoidance, sacrifice, that overall sense of doom / inevitability as the sibling never got better. There was learning that others's needs are more important than my own, and the teasing pain / intense sadness of a sibling relationship never to be fulfilled in the slightest. There was even a touch of alcoholism involved in the family due to the stress of an untenable situation (or perhaps from the medical establishment that constantly blamed my parents. Remember the term Refrigerator Mother?). Every body's experience is going to be different. I even read an article or two about how having an Autistic sibling has made them better more responsible people. That just wasn't my experience.  Years later I found myself reading literature and attending some ACOA and CODA meetings. Gosh could relate more to those insights - although in my self examination it was clear that I picked up many self defeating traits, more from the extended trauma of Autism then from the alcoholism.

retroruby
retroruby

Dear "TIME" the statistics your posting 1 out of 88 according to the CDC was in 2008. We are now at according to the CDC 1 out of 50 for 2012.

ChristineK
ChristineK

I'm a fourth year student in IT Sligo, Ireland and as part of my group dissertation we have chosen to focus on the topic of the use of PECS between a child on the autistic  spectrum and their sibling by creating a story book called 'In the day of the life of a sibling of a child with autism'. We are required to complete market research and I was wondering would anyone mind completing this online survey that will take less then 5minutes.

<a href="http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YTXKFRZ">Click here to take survey</a>

Thank You
Christine Kelly
(for any other questions/information please contact me on christin_k_lly@yahooo.co.uk)

KrajlKokaina
KrajlKokaina

Actually, my life has been relatively good. All the issues I have don't have any connection to my brother having autism (or whatever he has.. yeah we don't actually know :/) My parents and my brother would always make an effort to come to my important events. I have a very close relationship with my brother. We're best friends, even though the only thing he ever really says to me is "meow." He's a really funny, mischievous and sweet kid, and I'm honoured to have him as my brother and wouldn't want it any other way. Sure he has temper tantrums, and occasionally drives us all to the edge of insanity but c'est la vie. I absolutely adore my brother and am very protective of him. The only times I resented him was when he puked on my bed like 15 years ago and when we had to leave a mall early while on vacation because he was having one of his temper tantrums. (Yeah obviously there are many other times but those are the ones that really stand out.) 

PaulPruett
PaulPruett

I wish my brother was like his, mine was regarded as the special one and was held up to me to be a bright example, the "little grown up" while I was treated as a bother some freak. I could never understand why he didn't love me..and treated me like furniture..Now I know he had Asperger's and his love of numbers, extreme frugality and obsessions with his hobbies and habits were all part of a disorder not something to be praised and held over my head by cruel parents.

SarahKnight
SarahKnight

"not a victim" hmmm  I can agree with feeling the victim words is too strong but still....

I am a YOUNGER sister to a 21 year old autistic boy. I'm 19. We live in a small town with less then 800 kids total in the whole school district. In the 90s we didn't have therapy or special people to follow my brother where-ever he was in the school.  Elementary school was HELL. Every time my brother blew up over homework or the class being too loud, I could hear it in my class down the hall.  At least 6 times a day I'd hear 

"you're Bryan's sister right?"

"yes"

"You know he threw a desk at the teacher?"

"yes, I'll talk to him."

I didn't need that in third grade. It was all I could do to get my homework done at home. Who can concentrate with a screaming person throwing things in his room for 2 hours straight?

Luckily the teachers and the school in general finally got the message and put him in a special education classroom with all the others who couldn't learn the 'normal' way.  But still teachers would tell me to help him with his homework because I was the 'smart, bright one'  Had they seen all my Fs in math? 

I don't know how, or why, or when, but at one point somewhere around sixth grade his classmates wouldn't come and get me to calm him down. They wouldn't tell me what he did "odd" that day. It was quite nice. I made friends that year. (not the greatest friends, but still) 

It was when I went to the junior high with him that I really saw a difference. His classmates would only come and find me if he thought he forgot something, or if he was going home early. (They totally forgot to tell me when he passed out in class though.) I don't want to make it sound like he had a disease, but he got BETTER in high school.  He talked more to people, he participated in class. No blow ups at pep rallies, (mostly).With a whole bunch of people surrounding him all day, knowing his ticks and triggers,  he graduated from high school. On time. In the ceremony. When he walked down that paper walkway waving and punching the air, and wearing those Mickey Mouse ears, I swear the whole place cried. The whole town knew who Bryan was, what he was, and their only goal, to give him a proper education and rearing, was fulfilled.  In place of a screaming boy who threw desks at teachers; there was a man-boy, who loved star wars, Jim Henson, and movies.  

His classmates could've ignored him, they could've of bullied him, but they didn't and treated him better then their own siblings.  If they didn't I think I could've easily have hated my brother, run away from home, and done some really bad things. Because I had to take care of him, not myself.

People need to realize that these siblings ARE NOT their autistic brother/sister.  They are their own people, with their own quirks, needs, and feelings.  A lot of people seem to think "they are YOURS so DEAL WITH IT". But they aren't. They are everybody's. Especially in close knit communities. Everyone needs to know the triggers, everyone needs to know their hobbies and dislikes. So if something bad happens (OMG HE broke a mirror) THEY know how to deal with him/her. (Its okay, I know it was an accident, how about I make you hot cocoa and call your mom okay?)  So WE (the relatives), get the whole story and not freak out. (He didn't see the cord on the floor and tripped.) 

These people are going to be out in society WITH OUT their siblings, parents, etc, eventually. WE who live with them 24/7 shouldn't have to stress over a simple trip to the store, or going to a movie. 

Because my town realized I was my own person, they look out for him, they tell me and my parents if they saw him looking sad or angry, they get them out of bad situations and away from construction zones. 

treesap17
treesap17

So, like any other health issue, Autism is a family issue. Are people with cancer the victimizer too? People with lupus? Someone who had a stroke? A heart attack? Things happen in life. Health issues will always inevitably affect those around you. 

Autistic people are not the victimizers. You're the victimizer. 

karlatrx
karlatrx

Do I like the use of the word victim?  No.

Does everyone have the same experience and feelings? Of course not.

But it IS difficult to be the sibling of a child with Autism.  I don't see why anyone would want to deny that or not validate their feelings.  

My autistic son is a wonderful funny terrific person. His sisters are wonderful people too.  I see many of the problems and benefits that the article mentions in the relationship they have.  My oldest daughter is in nursing school and is compassionate and has a big soft spot for kids on the Autism spectrum.  But she's also had resentment towards her brother and parents.  And that is valid and normal.  

Jenner
Jenner

Contrary to what people seem to want us to believe, this is not a new problem. Not all autistic people are children--my brother is 43. Do you think growing up in the 70s and 80s with an autistic brother was fun or easy? I always the girl with the crazy brother. Looking back, what is even worse than the way people treated me, was the way they treated my parents--I interacted with children, who probably didn't know any better, but my parents' peers were adults, and they have no excuse.  Our neighbors (except for 2 wonderful families) wouldn't play with me or speak to my parents. Organizations like Autism Speaks say "it's time listen"--well, let me tell you something--that's not true, it is long past time.

rennwah
rennwah

Barbara, what do you say for the sibling that has a back ache all the time from carrying their physically disabled sisters books in school? It's called love. it's what we do. There is no such thing as a fairy tale family. There are no victims and Autistics are not assailants. 

The real question is why isn't there enough community knowledge and support for Autistics? The communities should share in this responsibility. Sadly, parents of Autistic children are sick and tired of having to explain their child's behaviors to typical parents, so they don't bring the Autistic children to the siblings school plays and to the supermarket and to the park. It's the saddest thing in my life as a proud parent of a superb Autistic girl, to have to search for other Autistics. Society doesn't like us cause they don't understand us, so what do we do, we go to the park when its raining or dark, we shop early in the morning or late at night. Thank God for their siblings because its the only way most Autistic children get any social time at all. Siblings are not victims, they are heroes and teachers. What an honor to have... to grow up with a profound sense of love, compassion and empathy. 

What you have done with this article is to set us back and push us further into the shadows. Well I got news for you, There's power in numbers and ours are growing. We are the new norm. I say WE cause I will never let my child go at this alone. We own this, as a family, including her amazing 4 year old brother. 

RichWeinfeld
RichWeinfeld

This is a very important and often overlooked topic. My group, Weinfeld Education Group, is hosting a conference on March 3, 2013, in Rockville, MD, focusing on "Family Quality of Life." Our keynote speaker will be Eustacia Cutler, mother of Temple Grandin.Rich Weinfeld, 

MaryETormey
MaryETormey

My brother David was the centralized focus of blame, when I was a child, but now that he is dead. I can see clearly through all the crap I was not "imitating David". I was exposed to the same crap he was exposed to. It was not David's fault he messed with my stuff and infringed on my right to have personal belongings, my parents could have put a lock on my door. It was not Davids fault I got bullied, I was picked on and singled out because I developed later then my peers and our society is cruel to people who can't keep up with the crowd. It was not David's fault we had industrial grade fluoride in our drinking water that put me in a continual state of hunger, incontinence, and pain. It was not Davids fault they drugged him till he started having seizures and drowned. I witnessed many crimes committed by the drug and the chemical industry. I am a survivor not a victim. Do I suffer? Yes, I suffer unimaginable pain everyday since I was forced against my will to take Risperdal. I suffered and complained for over a month will the swelling from Risperdal crushed my insides so much I could barley even squeeze out liquid poop. I was the sibling of an Autistic child and I didn't even know what suffering was. I used to think it hurt when hot wax dripped on my hand, now it just makes me giggle. Risperdal made me feel pain like I will never feel pain the same way again. My  thyroid still presses against my neck changing my  vestibular perception and making me feel like I am upside down. "You can always stop taking it" they say will they forced me to take it till my body and my life where destroyed. I don't blame Autism, I blame J&J, Monsanto and any other company that forces poison on innocent people. 

ZoldyKate
ZoldyKate

Siblings of children with undiagnosed autism suffer greatly also. Parents who either deny their child has symptoms of autism, ADHD etc or who may be just oblivious to the unusual behaviour are doing their children a colossal disservice. The longer such conditions are left unnoticed, ignored, denied etc., the worse the childs symptoms may become, the more they will struggle to cope with adult-world pressures as they grow up and, equally as importantly, the more their younger siblings may begin to imitate and perform their behaviour. I am witnessing these effects first hand, but am in no position to act upon my fears and concerns as I am notblood-related to the family and my word would not be accepted. It is very frustrating, worrying and often quite upsetting.

amyc
amyc

From Easter Seals. A study. Facts. How is life different for adults who have siblings with developmental disabilities, many who have assumed – or will assume – primary caregiving responsibilities for their brother or sister with disabilities?Easter Seals Siblings Study sheds light on the experiences of sibling caregivers as well as insight on the services and supports they need:80% of survey respondents say they have a close relationship with their sibling with a disability and that this relationship enhances their life;http://www.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=ntl_siblings_study_home

TrishThrush
TrishThrush

Calling Autism a "family crisis" and using the words" epidemic" may increase the sensationalism of this article but for the actual self advocates or family members who know the truth this article appears like a very thinly veiled attempt to sell magazines. My daugher has ASD. She is natuarally who she is and she is wonderful. Her brother is devoted to her as any brother would be and fights with her like children do. They are siblings. Neither of them is a victim. Please stop trying to sell mindless articles that are dressed up in sensationalism. Please consider how your words will affect those who met someone with Autism in the future and help all of us work towards acceptance. Having a child with a diagnosis does not change that they are a child whom you love and accept as do thier siblings. All that changes is how they are precived in society.. Consider your impact on my child before you speak. 

ziggyted
ziggyted

This is a great article, but I wish there wasn't to many typos. "One in 88 American children ARE (not is) diagnosed..." "The image of HIM (not his) wandering the streets..." Really interesting points made, but such an article deserves to be reread before uploaded - the typo in the opening almost made me stop reading. Great content shouldn't be overshadowed by poor grammar.

amyc
amyc

This might be the most irresponsible drivel I've read about Autism, to date. Ridiculous.

RachelCohen-Rottenberg
RachelCohen-Rottenberg

Excuse me, but how does not having a "normal" sibling make one a "victim"? And I've got news for you -- some people feel neither "devotion" nor "resentment" toward their autistic siblings. They just treat them like actual people. You know, the way siblings do.

MiaGioia
MiaGioia

Funny, I was an ASD kid who was left to my own devices, while my weakling brother got all the attention. Because I was the kid who could figure out the math problems or find the patterns, I was considered "smart", I was quiet and didn't cause trouble, so I was "good."

Maybe the pendulum has swung the opposite direction, because so many of us were so ignored, or shuffled away and not dealt with for so long.

MiaGioia
MiaGioia

The number of people with autism spectrum disorders is THE SAME as ever. It's just that the spectrum has been fleshed out thanks to the DSM IV, and now people who weren't considered autistic, or were mis-labeled as "true" autistic--were on a spectrum.In the 60s, I was almost diagnosed as autistic, but I was too outgoing, too engaged, and so on with the world than the classic autistic. Now they call me Asperger's.It wasn't so long ago that many thought that people who heard voices were possessed by demons. Now we call the ones who hear voices schizophrenic.Same thing. Different condition.

McKenzie
McKenzie

20 years ago my brother was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (at the age of 18). Almost no one knew what it was at that time which is why it took so long to finally figure out what was wrong.  Ten years after that, I was diagnosed with my own mild (non-PDD) disorder. My brother's issues were so much more intense and disruptive than mine that no one realized I had a problem as well. Both of us could have benefited greatly from earlier intervention.  I know that back than there were groups like NAMI setting up sibling support groups so this issue is not a new one.  Still, with what appears to be a considerable increase in autism spectrum diagnoses, it's an issue worth emphasizing to parents and care givers. 

I still remember the frustration I felt when I was younger to to the lack of attention from my parents. Like another poster mentioned below, I often defended my brother in school as well even though he and I did not always get along. I hope parents will look for support resources for everyone in the family--everyone needs it, not just the special needs child.

alainrj
alainrj

All children can really benefit from the progression of technology especially children with autism.  Tablets provide a great shared experience, between both Autistic children and their siblings.  http://goo.gl/8HFMm

jbudka
jbudka

I have often felt guilty when my daughter, two years younger than my Asperger's son, would sit silently in the midst of a family crisis. Taking things in. I made special times when it would just be the two of us that would go shopping. We would go to the American Girl store, get our nails done, mini field trips, etc. What I did not know, was how much she would have to stand up for her brother every day at school, while kids would make fun of him, call him names and bully him. All of the while she had his back and would let no one push him around. They were one year apart. During his senior year of hs, she had three classes with him. She said her whole junior year had been ruined as a result of this. All I could do was tell her how proud I was of her for being so tolerant. She would go off and tell me that I treated him better than her and I loved him more, but I kept praising her because I could not of done it without her. She definitely was and still is affected by her special needs brother. Even though he is 21 and she 19. I can only say that she is one of the most beautiful, caring and lovintg young ladies as a result of this. I respect her and I know her brother does too, even tho he doesn't always find the right words.

greenseranade
greenseranade

the most forgotten include the mild autistic who better blends in but can rarely forge a bond with either sibling or classmates.  the siblings of these individuals can be terrorized by an always angry mild autistic sibling.  you cant reason with them because they lack sympathy  you have to bribe your way to peace every single second of the day.  a trip to the store ?  whats it like to come home to broken doors and windows and a daughter who is being physically threatened   i yearned for the moments when his computer could take over his mind and we could clean up his messes and try just to breathe something untainted by such indifference.  i love my son but he cannot love and that does something to us all  . i pray for the day that he finally sees himself and not the imagined long suffering hero that he thinks he is  but it will never come. and its so sad because he is surrounded by those who love him and do anything for him that brings him temporary peace     he watches whiles others enjoy and laugh and hug while he sits with his frozen scowl and thinks to himself that they are all fakes.. that happiness is fake. that love is fake. and only pain and disloyalty are real. his girlfriend broke up with him because he cannot love.  and he blames me. he blames his uncle.. his father  his sisters.. everyone. he can think of and he demands that we accept the blame.  and this will never change.  this is his constant.  he is the man behind you in the store who makes you feel stupid because he doesnt approve of the way you count change..he is the driver who blasts his horn because he wants you to hurry up because thats what he wants from you from everyone. he is the person who doesnt say thankyou when you hold the door for them. and the person who tells you that if you are not like him you are a loser. try being that persons sister. merry christmas. you mean nothing to me.  / 

JPKski
JPKski

Maureen Chesus started a blog called Supersiblings to help support sibilings of people with autism. The website is supersib.com and her twitter account is @maureensupersib . A small support community is growing there and on twitter for people sibilings who need support or who need to vent.

MagwireJewery
MagwireJewery

I was also affect on siblings is a topic that needs to be addressed and was disappointed that it was not. My older teenr has autism and has been very jealous and downright mean to her younger sister. I have tried to help, but the mental wounds to my younger daughter run deep. She tried finding other siblings like herself, with a brother or sister with Autism and was very disappointed to find that there were alot of websites of siblings venting, but nothing positive or helpful for her to find a way to get along better with her sister or anything positive to say about having an autistic sibling and such. 

AutismDadinFlorida
AutismDadinFlorida

I watched the hearing last night on C-Span. Yes, I agree that the affect on siblings is a topic that needs to be addressed and was disappointed that it was not.

It was good to see the topic of attending to the needs of adults with autism was addressed. This has also been woefully overlooked. 

What was most unfortunate about the hearing was that too much of the discussion was wasted on the topic of vaccines. As the father of an autistic child, I studied this issue years ago. This matter, for all intents and purposes, has been decided. In spite of a growing body of evidence to the contrary, however, there are still those who want to keep beating this broken drum. Unfortunately, this hearing was attended, largely in part, by politicians who wanted to grandstand and anti-vaxers who will never be convinced, regardless of the facts and evidence, that autism is not caused by vaccines. This is so frustrating to those of us who are trying to get the services and therapies our children need, or who are trying to get help for autistic adults so that they can live productive and prosperous lives. 

It is time for us to contact our elected officials and reiterate what the real needs and priorities are. If you are as fed-up as I am with politicians who do little more than posture and provide the obligatory lip-service which, for now, has served them well, then it is time to let them know we need help with the siblings of our autistic children. We need help getting insurance to cover therapies. We need programs to assist adults with autism so that they can live up to their potentials. 

ScethStXellus
ScethStXellus

It might be worthwhile to investigate abuse of autistic children at the hands of their siblings and parents. Your method lends itself to letting them lionize themselves.

eksnewyork
eksnewyork

What a thoughtful and wise piece that gets at a story that clearly isn't being told. This is the kind of research that represents the voices of people that are often neglected. I'm looking forward to reading the book. 

Marg
Marg

@Jenner This is an excellent article and I'm glad someone is finally addressing the issue of how siblings are affected by autism. Like you said, Jenner, it is not a new problem. I grew up with two autistic siblings, both now in their fifties. It was a time when the syndrome was terribly misunderstood. My parents suffered greatly. They were told by medical professionals that it was their fault. There were no treatments. The only option was institutional care. My "normal" siblings and I suffered, too. I felt resentful, and also guilty, for feeling resentful. I love my autistic siblings greatly and am very protective of them. We all face problems and difficulties in our lives. There is always the ability to grow and learn from our difficulties and use them as opportunities to become better people.

rory.j.s.patton
rory.j.s.patton

@ziggyted "Is" is correct "One in 88" being singular not plural, one in 88 IS diagnosed, but 88 ARE not.

cru831
cru831

@jbudka Like your daughter, I am two (and a half) years younger than my brother with Asperger's. Your comment touched me since it is such a direct reflection of my own situation. It's often hard to deal with the resentment you feel. Its a strange mix of guilt, anger and frustration, and I really can't find the right words to articulate it. I am sure you do not need a stranger to tell you this, but your daughter truly knows you do not love your son more, and you sound like a very wonderful mother. 

For a few years now I have been thinking about writing a book about being the younger sibling of somene with Autism (specifically Asperger's) geared at a more adult audience rather than children. As a parent of a child similar to me, would you find this a helpful resource?

ddenenburg
ddenenburg

@greenseranade I understand the severity of your situation. This kind of anger CAN be treated. The defensiveness that you speak of comes from a place of not being heard or understood or validated. That is the result of having internal triggers but not having the ability to verbalize them. There is something in this person's core that is not being acknowledged. The way to find it is through gentle anger therapy. It begins with simple "yes" or "no" questions. These help pull out thoughts. The angry person must be allowed to express their hostility during this questioning. When there are enough thoughts extracted from their mind, a pattern will begin to show. They always go back to the main source of their discontent. It is then that the real issue can be dealt with. It is often related to the parent child interaction. I am not "blaming" the parent. An example would be that when the angry person is attempting to do a task and a parent or other person suggests they "hurry up". This is a solid trigger that can cause that person to feel inadequate because they either won't be accepted due to being too slow, or their self image is reduced because they feel guilty for not being able to perform what is expected. When a person is allowed to express their frustration without being criticized for it, then it can begin to abate. This is not a quick or easy process. Sometimes it takes a number of discussions to get to the heart of the matter. But, there is hope. There is also love in this person. They are fiercely protecting it until it feels safe to let it out.

littlebigfish
littlebigfish

@greenseranade I know how hard this is. Your story made me cry. Thank you for sharing-- I hope it helps you, too, to hear that your are not alone. I have a brother exactly like your son. The holidays are especially hard.Please remember: it is not your fault. Tell your daughters that it is ok to feel sad, and to mourn the closeness we lack with our siblings, but they simply don't have it to give. It is ok to give him some distance if it helps the relationship-- even if it helps things be "less bad" rather than getting better. You are a good mother. You love him. That is enough. You don't have to be perfect to make up for someone else's issues-- you don't have to own that, even if he refuses to own it himself.I hope you stay strong and find support from the people who can and do love and appreciate you. Try not to let this part of your life overshadow all the others. Breathe. Your daughters will understand things more, and differently, as they grow up. You are human and you are trying your best to take care of everyone you love. When you only have so much to give, share love and affection and warmth on the people who can return it, and they will sustain you.

waynerohde
waynerohde

@AutismDadinFlorida  I agree with you about the sibling issue and the services needed.  But I will state that you are completely wrong regarding the vaccine issue.  the vaccine issue has not been settled.  If you listened to the exchange between Dr. Boyle of the CDC and Rep Posey, Rep Mahoney, Rep Cummins, she keeps denying the issue.  But since you "have done" some research, did you find the communications by Boyle back in 2000 to dilute the sample size with other kids so the prevalence would not be so high.  Did you care to notice what Mark Blaxill told the cmte about all the studies that have been black balled or shoved in a corner that show vaccine links.  Those will become part of the public record.  Boyle needs an attorney because she was sworn in front of the cmte.  This is the investigated cmte of Congress.  Her comments about Thorsen, prevalence studies, clearly show for the first time discussed in public in over 10 years, that the CDC has been manipulating the numbers.  Brick Township in NJ was another topic.    But we also must work together to insure that our children soon to be adults will have the proper services, residential housing, employment training and opportunities.   But we also MUST find out ALL possible causes of autism.  Otherwise the hard work and advocacy we do to help adults with autism will just keeping getting mowed over as more and more kids come of age.  We have to stop this epidemic and we must work together to provide the best possible world for those with autism.

kairo117
kairo117

@littlebigfish @greenseranade Actually, as long as there are two or more children in a family, there will be bias, regardless of whether one is a special needs child or not. Parents will tend to pay more attention to one child than the other. When your sibling is a special needs child, the resentment you feel will be directed to that salient situation. The disparity between yours and their ability to function independently will also make the bias in parental care more obvious.

Truth is, anyone with a sibling will know that a parent will somehow always favor one child over another.

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

@waynerohde @AutismDadinFlorida Autism is not caused by vaccines if that were true the incidences would be  the same in countries were polio and small pox vaccines are given. Direct you research of autism rates to Africa, China, and Japan. 

littlebigfish
littlebigfish

@kairo117  I'm not sure I follow you. The difficulty of an unfeeling, uncaring sibling isn't one of bias. It's just painful when two people that you love more than anything hurt each other. Additionally, good parents will try to meet the needs of their children-- needs that are different for each individual-- and also try to help those children learn to exist in a world that will NOT cater to all their needs, let alone wants. When there is resentment over attention paid to a sibling, one solution might be more attention for the child feeling neglected. Or it might be equally effective and possibly better in the long run to help that child understand that their sense of what they are entitled to needs to be adjusted. Part of being a healthy sibling is sharing Mom and Dad without obsessing over getting your fair share.

waynerohde
waynerohde

@bibleverse1 @waynerohde @AutismDadinFlorida  No one is saying that a vaccine caused autism.  You just got caught up in the Pharma talking points.

Vaccines are a contributor to many medical conditions including autism.  It is the straw that broke the camels back for many kids.  But not all autism cases.

Research in Africa is difficult.  But most health advocates state that there was hardly any cases of autism in Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Chad, and other nations until large vaccine crusades were conducted over the last decade.  Could be the possibility of vaccine reaction and the lack of Vit D.

Almost all autism in Somali kids in the US are the ones born in the US.