Not Everything is Puppies and Rainbows 🌈

Puppy picture
Picture of a puppy named Winston

We welcomed a new dog into our home. How could you not? He is too cute. Everyone is settling in nicely. Of course, they all have their moments. No different than human siblings.

I wanted to share something I found on Instagram this week. I went through this list on a virtual session and asked the student to do thumbs up or thumbs down if he could relate to any of these statements listed below. His response was amazing and proceeded to have a great session after.

What I want parents to read out of this is that a child does not have the language to say the above statements. It will come out in behaviors. What I hear a lot is that, the sibling is fine. They have straight “A”s, they are alway helpful, and it’s puppies and rainbows. Over resilient is not a thing. It’s a red flag.

Ok so now what? I would suggest reading books by other people who are a sibling. I turned 40 this year and I am just now starting to have a voice and use language to describe thoughts and feelings around the whole thing. Emotional language was not taught growing up. What I was taught was “don’t say much” which I learned later on in therapy is that is dysfunctional. It’s ok to have emotions and talk about them.

A Difference in The Family by Helene Featherstone

The language in this is dated because it is older but the emotions are still the same. It also will give the reader a historical perspective on how far things have come and how some things are still the same. “It is remarkably difficult for parents to locate services that do exist.” That’s still very much the same.

How To Be the Sister by Eileen Garvin

“During our childhood, Margaret’s autism made her prone to frequent, unpredictable, violent tantrums”. As siblings, we then become hyper vigilant. It is a form of trauma. No, we don’t have alphabet soup- ADD, ADHD, ODD, SPD. It may look like that but take a step back. (The is not to say siblings can’t have any of these disabilities). My brother likes to break glass. Funny thing is this is not a sound that makes me jump. When I bar tended, I loved the sound of smashing the bottles. Go figure.

Sibling Stories by Lynne Stern Feiges, Esq. & Mary Jane Weiss, Ph.D/BCBA

“Even though a typical sibling may understand her high-functioning brother or sister’s limitations, resentment may develop if parents hold different standards for their children in terms of family obligations or financial responsibilities.” We are human. We are entitled to our feelings. I’m going to repeat this again. We are entitled to our own feelings. Go back to the post- Rule #1, it’s not about you. You are not being a bad parent or sibling.

Riding The Bus With My Sister by Rachel Simon

This was one of my favorites. I laughed out loud so many times. Not necessarily because it was ha ha funny. It was so relatable and I can just see the dynamics. It is also turned into a movie on Hallmark. Not as good as the book but great to watch. You can see the sibling issues especially from the adult perspective. Once again, have a plan.

Siblings of Children with Autism by Sandra L Harris, Ph.D & Beth A. Glasberg, Ph.D

I have to admit, I was a bit pissy about this book. They aren’t siblings so what do they know. So once I got out of my own way, they did address all the issues listed from the Instagram post I shared. Siblings need there own support group as well. Peers that understand what they are going through. I know I would have loved that as a child.

Being The Other One by Kate Strohm

I really like this one as well. It explains sibs so well. “Siblings do best psychologically when their parents communicate their expectations and feelings openly, talk about the illness or disability honestly, do not overburden them with childcare and household responsibility, and manage to pain train pleasant and supportive marital relationships. While these family styles of coping do not make sadness of a child’s illness or disability disappear, they do seem to enable brothers and sisters to develop some of life’s most admirable personal qualities.” On the flip side, leaving us to our own devices is probably not wise either. Just speaking from experience.

I would love to know your thoughts on any of these books. They can be found on Amazon. That is where I purchased all of them. When I took the Sibshop training, they had a table of these books. It took several months to read all of them and got free month on Hallmark so I could watch the movie.

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