My eldest son, 24, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 12. I'd always known something was not quite right, and it was having his sister just one year younger that made the differences stand out so much. However, I did bury my head in the sand for quite a few years. I learnt my lesson.
There are just 17 months between my two eldest children, but age is not the only way they are close. Of course they have their ups and downs and have at times fought like cats and dogs, but that's par the course with siblings. When my daughter was 11 years, we went through a very difficult time during our family, and this was just a couple of years after my splitting with their father. Things took their toll on all of us. My son's behaviour became increasingly worse, my daughter became increasingly depressed and I was left with no-one for support. My family (apart from one of my brothers) had disowned me and my friends were all at work, but I had to leave my job. I couldn't tell anyone what had happened so the school thought my daughter was being awkward because of her brother, they believed that I was giving him all the attention because of his recent diagnosis and his increasingly difficult behaviour as he hit puberty. They couldn't have been more wrong.
Talking with my daughter now, she never blames her brother for anything. I've always managed to treat them both equally. Although if you ask my son he'll probably say his sister has had the most attention, but that's his way, he's always blaming me for forgetting to feed him (I don't) not getting his clothes ready (I do) not reminding him of things (again I do). They are still very much stuck in their teenage ways, both immature for their ages. They are both really close and I'm happy because I know they will always be there for each other.
When Lucy was born, my first feeling were how much she was like her older brother. I kept my thoughts mostly to myself, not because I was burying my head again, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining it. When Lucy went to nursery her teacher picked up her differences almost straight away, but it wasn't until she was 5 years old that I took her for diagnosis, by then I had the backing of the school and her GP, so I knew I wasn't imagining it. She was diagnosed last year with high functioning autism.
There are 22 months between Lucy and Leila, and once again the differences in their behaviours where quite apparent. They are close but I don't think they will be as close as their older siblings were, Lucy lacks empathy towards her sister, she will leave her crying if she falls and hurts herself, and doesn't stick up for her around other children. Leila is very clingy, right from a small baby she has always needed lots of attention and still craves it just as much now. Having Joseph put another spanner in the works. At first Lucy wouldn't even acknowledge she had a baby brother. Leila now has typical middle child syndrome. She believes she has to fight for attention all the time. I do my very best to treat them all equally but they are all so different. Lucy doesn't 'do' cuddles or fuss, Leila needs constant cuddles and fuss and Joseph is a bit in-between, sometimes he's incredibly cuddly, sometimes he runs a mile.
I'm not sure what to expect from the future. Leila has shown she has problems of her own as she is not developing at the same rate as her peers at school and has to have extra help. Joseph, is not like any other child I have had, he was a very slow starter with walking (even moving) and talking but seems to be catching up quickly now. What does worry me about him is his screaming, and his attempts to walk tip toes all the time. Will they be close, I can't tell yet, but I hope they will with my love and guidance.
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