Sunshine & Siblings

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Having spent some lovely time in our garden yesterday when the sun decided to join us at long last (better late than never), I watched my two children playing together. I am just going to write that again so it sinks in…. I watched my two children playing together. Yes, they had a great time jumping on the trampoline and having a go on the swings. The bargain priced ride on tractor thing with trailer that I found on a local Facebook selling page went down well with Eliza ‘driving’ and Noah catching a lift in the trailer. For thirty minutes they enjoyed each others company and I loved watching them. I sat taking pictures, as I often do, to be greeted by Eliza yelling “say cheese mummy”.

Any interaction that Eliza faces is not always easy for her. Her speech only started in the last 18 months and until she started Special School 2 years ago, her social skills were fairly poor despite me taking her to baby/toddler/play groups from an early age. To hear her say something as simple as “say cheese mummy” is just beautiful because she can say it at last and in the right situation. The interaction between her and Noah is wonderful. She loves him, I do not doubt that at all and he gets away with so much with her. Her tolerance is incredible when it comes to him. I want to brush her hair and friends three streets away can probably hear her response. Noah pulls her hair really hard and she giggles and says “Noah, gentle please”. You could ask her for a crisp and risk losing a finger in the process but Noah ‘steals’ one right in front of her and she just looks at him and carries on eating. The bond they have is beautiful and strong and I hope it long continues.

I was never sure how Eliza would react to Noah, it really was 50/50. Having had us to herself for over 4 years, I worried at how she would feel when she suddenly had to share her parents but in particular, me. No offence to the husband intended, it is just that I have always been the parent at home. Even after she was born I worked nights when she was 6 months old so our days were free to attend baby groups, play dates and get togethers. When she reached two and a half and the word autism was mentioned leading to numerous appointments and therapies, I gave up my career as a nurse to be stay at home mummy.  I traded in my 12 hr night shifts, training days and registration for a new life. One that was suddenly full of specialists, appointments, therapies and endless questionnaires and paperwork to fill in. I had a crash course in using PECS and learnt Makaton Signing just so I could communicate with Eliza who, at that time, did not say anything other than “no” and “mum mum”. None of this I write is intended to be a sob story, I have never once regretted my choice to leave my career. Simply days like this one remind me how far we have come on our journey already.

Preparing for Noah was a military style operation. By preparing I mean preparing Eliza, no saucy story about to unravel!!. We got books like ‘I’m a big sister’ and ‘Mummy’s tummy’s a house’ or something like that title. Once we knew he was a boy we got her a baby boy dolly. She had many dolls already but this one was a boy. Oh and he was not just wearing blue doll clothes, he had proper ‘boy bits’ inside his dolly nappy. Eliza is very visual and in many ways factual so she likes to see and understand things as they really are, hence the boy dolly. This doll went everywhere with us for a while – in the car in what would be Noah’s car seat (to get Eliza used to seeing ‘someone’ else in the car), I carried boy dolly sometimes so she saw me with him. We played games (tea party, hide and seek, role played) all involving boy dolly. We even let her choose Noah’s name. We had narrowed it down to 3 names we liked so gave her the final choice and she chose Noah. I don’t know if what I did had any impact on how she took to her brother the day he came home and how shes adored him ever since, or whether she is simply at a stage in her life where she understands siblings etc. Maybe a mixture of both. Whatever happened, its wonderful to see them together. I imagine it wont be long before I am sorting disagreements between them like any brother/sister duo but for now I will sit back and enjoy them just as they are right now.

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Author: Julie Clarke

Mum to 2 children - Eliza diagnosed ASD at age 3. Younger Sibling, Noah. I run a Facebook page called 'Living with Blooming Autism'.

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