Q&A | Life As A Special Needs Sibling

There’s no denying the fact. Life for a child with Autism can be difficult and challenging, but what about the effect those issues have on that child’s wider family. In this particular instance I’m referring to their siblings.

Sonny has two brothers, Riley is almost 8 and Zachary is 3. They love one another deeply and the majority of the time, they get along well. It didn’t come like that easily, we have worked really hard to make sure their bonds remain strong. Made sure that they stay united through all the ups and downs. It’s taken patience and tolerance, kindness and calm (and a truck load of negotiation) to get to where we are today.

Riley struggles the most when it comes to having a sibling with special needs. Even though Sonny was only diagnosed with Autism in December, the effects of his disability have been felt throughout our family unit for years. You hear about young carers and a little about what life is like for them but Riley wanted to share with you his thoughts and feelings. He wants you to know what life is like having Sonny for a little brother.

I put to Riley a number of questions as did some of my fellow bloggers, some of whom have SEN children themselves. I have to say Riley felt quite ‘famous’ answering these questions from, as he put it, ‘people from ALLL over the world!!’ Here’s what he had to say.

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DO YOU MIND TALKING ABOUT SONNY AND AUTISM?

“No, I absolutely don’t mind at all. I am like the Autism master, if anyone needs to know what Autism is, I can tell them and teach them about it. I don’t think anyone else gets asked about Autism much. Being asked about my feelings is good because it doesn’t make me feel as left out anymore.”

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU?

“My name is Riley, I’m nearly 8 years old and I’m in year 3 at school. I’m tall, I have pale skin and brown hair. I love Minecraft, Lego, Star Wars and Pokémon. I love playing computer games and mummy lets me play on her old phone. My favourite food is anything with spicy chilli peppers.”

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TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SONNY?

“Sonny is my 5 year old little brother who has Autism and he can’t use his legs as much because his joints are too flexible. Sonny doesn’t like sharing as much as normal people do and he doesn’t like it when it’s too busy or noisy. He has a goofy and cheeky little face and I love him.”

DO YOU THINK HAVING A BROTHER WITH SPECIAL NEEDS MAKES YOU FEEL ANY DIFFERENT?
Joy, The Sensory Seeker

“I don’t really know. I do know that I am important as I am his big brother and Mummy tells me to look after him at school. I do sometimes get a bit lonely and feel a bit left out.”

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WHAT’S SONNY’S FAVOURITE THING TO DO?
Laura, Autumns Mummy

“Sonny loves to play with dinosaurs, cars and trains. He loves playing Lego Jurassic Park, Lego Star Wars and Minecraft on the XBOX.”

WHAT’S SONNYS BEST TALENT?
Laura, Autumns Mummy

“Using his words when he talks about all the dinosaurs he knows. He knows a lot about dinosaurs. He has books all about them and can tell you everything about each one.”

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WHAT’S SONNY’S BEST QUALITY?
Laura, Autumns Mummy

“I love the way he talks funny sometimes. When he says R2-D2, he says “aaarrr deee deee doooo! That’s really makes me laugh.”

WHAT’S THE HARDEST THING ABOUT HAVING A BROTHER WITH AUTISM? Danielle, Someone’s Mum

“The hardest thing is that I can’t always get away from him, especially when he is mad. Sonny doesn’t like going to school and so we are always late even though I am always ready and I sometimes get told off.”

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DO YOU EVER FEEL LEFT OUT?
Danielle, Someone’s Mum

“I feel like Sonny and Zachary get more help than me because I’m the big brother. I feel left out when Sonny does something naughty he doesn’t always get told off as much as what me and Zachary do. I feel a bit angry that Sonny doesn’t have to stay at school as long as I do because he goes home at lunch time everyday. Sonny gets lots of help to do things like getting dressed and Mummy always has to lay with him at night time to help him sleep.”

WHAT CAN YOUR PARENTS DO TO HELP YOU NOT FEEL LEFT OUT?
Danielle, Someone’s Mum

“They could give me the same kind of help to do things but I know that can’t always happen because I need to be the big boy and that helps Mummy in the mornings when we get ready for school. I do like it when me and Mummy spend time together just the two of us. Some times she picks me up from school on her own, sometimes we go to the café and have a hot chocolate. She always reads me my grown up books at bedtime and sometimes we play board games when Sonny and Zachary have gone to bed. She always gives me a cuddle even when I’m cross.”

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DO YOU WORRY ABOUT SONNY?
Laura, Autumns Mummy

“YES! 1000000% because when he’s not getting what he wants or feels scared or angry he goes on a rampage!”

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO YOUR FRIENDS IF THEY SAY UNKIND THINGS ABOUT YOUR BROTHER?
Joy. The Sensory Seeker

“I would just tell them to go away from my brother you’re being unkind.”

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MOST IMPORTANT THING SONNY HAS TAUGHT YOU?
Danielle, Someone’s Mum

“He shouts at me to play when I don’t want to play but that’s important because it teaches me to share my time with him so I’m not just wasting my time on my own in my bedroom.”

IF SONNY COULD HAVE ONE SUPER POWER WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Charlie, Our Altered Life

“It would definitely be being able to turn toy dinosaurs into real ones with laser beams and his laser beam might get himself and he might turn into a real dinosaur!”

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IF YOU WANTED THE WORLD TO KNOW ONE THING ABOUT YOUR LITTLE BROTHER WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Danielle, Someone’s Mum and Charlie, Our Altered Life

“I want the world to know that Sonny has Autism and it’s a lot worse than what it looks like to look at him. He just wants to be happy and have friends like everyone else. He doesn’t know how.”

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About the Author

Posted by

Mum of three young boys. Sharing our family journey to an Autism and ADHD diagnosis.

5 Comments

It’s never fair for a sibling to get into trouble for being late for school 😦 Wish schools would be more understanding. It’s worth looking into how you could register him as a Young Carer? His love for his brother shines through xx

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