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Siblings of children with asd - worried about impact of ds's behaviour on dd

(16 Posts)
bialystockandbloom Wed 05-Feb-14 20:55:39

It's becoming more apparent how much dd (4yo) is being influenced by ds (6yo, asd). Inevitable that she'll copy him I suppose, I'm sure that's normal in sibling relationships. But of course the problem is that she is copying his inappropriate behaviour and I'm getting worried that it's now affecting her relationship with other children.

Eg at nursery yesterday when I picked her up, a little girl came up and said to her "dd I like your top" and dd's response was literally to shout at her "stop saying that to me". Poor little girl was understandably confused and probably a bit scared. It's made me realise how much shouting goes on in our house (obviously we try everything to deal with this, etc etc etc, but....) and how she probably thinks it's a normal way to interact with people sad

Or she starts talking to other 3/4yos about Doctor Who as of course ds has been watching it and she has to watch too so as to join in with him (she really does know far more about Dr Who than is healthy!).

Or another eg when ds does his usual thing of not responding first/second/third time when she calls his name, and she shouts to get his attention, is she going to think this is the norm?

So on top of all the usual stress/worry/exhaustion of trying to shape ds's behaviour as much as we can, I don't know what I can do to ensure that dd 't a) doesn't think this kind behaviour is the norm, b) knows how to engage with other children without resorting to the kind of behaviour that she has to with ds, and c) what kind of impact is this going to have on her own personality, identity, self-esteem, anxiety etc.

I've been talking to nursery about it all, and they say she's just still learning how to join in with others, but the point is that if her main role model is ds, how can I prevent her from learning in a way which is, erm, off-kilter?

I try and get as many playdates as possible for her, and try everything to teach ds appropriate/inappropriate behaviour etc, use reward incentives with them both (tick charts etc), but of course ds has asd and his behaviour and interaction will always be different.

not sure what the point of this post is, but just wanted to know any strategies others might use, or are there any resources/groups/courses/books I could use to get ideas?

Sorry so long.

Levantine Wed 05-Feb-14 21:16:04

No advice but am in exactly the same boat with 3yo ds2. Kind of luckily for him (but prob not for ds1) I work so he is with a fabulous childminder three days a week and now at nursery school a couple of hours a day. I try to trust that he is is own person and will find his own way through. While ds1 is an influence, he is not the only one. So playdates and nursery will make a difference I'm sure.

It is miserable though having a three year old shout "you hate me" every day

greener2 Wed 05-Feb-14 21:24:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bialystockandbloom Wed 05-Feb-14 21:25:28

Hmm, that's made me realise I probably should have put dd with a childminder sad

She's at nursery 3 days a week but basically spends all her other time at home with me and I'm probably too stressed and too involved in the situation to be able to remain calm about things. I suppose I had thought, like you, that she'd just be able to find her own way through and be able to learn from being with peers (as most children do) but it doesn't seem to be turning out that way. It seemed fine until quite recently - possibly coinciding with our last ABA tutor leaving and now not doing it at home any more.

Thanks for your reply.

bialystockandbloom Wed 05-Feb-14 21:28:41

Sorry greener x-posts. See, I think that's a great thing (relatively, iyswim) that your ds2 is actually worried about you, as he realises that the way ds1 hits you etc is actually not normal. My worry is that dd is learning from ds that shouting people is the norm. Added to the fact that she is unbelievably strong-willed. She's like a bloody 4yo teenager!

bialystockandbloom Wed 05-Feb-14 21:29:27

Sorry, your dd not ds1.

greener2 Wed 05-Feb-14 21:42:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

paperlantern Wed 05-Feb-14 22:46:29

with siblings I think it's really helpful to offer a explanation of difficult behaviour. it's really hard to do because the last thing you want to do after/during dealing with something is explaining it to someone else

i think it helps to include a recognition or description of what your dd saw. then look at how it relates to your ds and what he finds difficult. How it will look from his perspective. She needs to understand that he will find it harder to do things she should find much easier.

so in an age specific way "ds shouted and screamed a lot just then, did that make you feel a bit confused/upset/cross. ds has trouble telling us when he is upset about...... Mummy has to help him calm down and tell us. You know when you're upset you come talk to mummy/if you were ds what would you do. "

Levantine Thu 06-Feb-14 07:00:11

I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel worse. I just meant that having a bit of their own space carved out will help. I try to say to ds2 when I have some quiet time with him that everyone is different and ds1 iris sometimes sad and thats why he hits etc etc, but that its not okay to hurt people. I'm sure you do all that already. Is she going to school this year?

bialystockandbloom Thu 06-Feb-14 09:59:07

Oh levantine don't worry! It just hadn't occured to me before that maybe if dd had been with someone else, on her own, she would have benefitted from learning other rules of behaviour. When we were doing more home ABA it definitely made a difference to her (as well as ds, obv!), but I've been a sahm so we didn't need a cm. Yes, she starts school this year.

paperlanter thanks, that is really helpful. Ds isn't aware of his condition so we've never been explicit to dd (or any other children) that he is different, so it's tricky to find other ways of helping her to understand that what he does isn't the norm. It just seems a lot to expect a 4yo to be able to accept that her brother can 'get away' with stuff that she couldn't - even though we try as much as possible to have the same rules for him, the same expectations, it's obviously a different ball game.

blueeyedmonster Thu 06-Feb-14 12:37:40

I worry that DD copies too much from ds also. She's 2 so easily influenced and he's more than happy to influence her which is more than frustrating at times. She's also incredibly insightful though. When ds is upset (going off on one) she at times will stand there saying "mini monster 1 calm down". She loves him to bits and I do hope like others that she'll find her own way. She is at the moment, all we can do is guide her in the right dirction and hope it works.

paperlantern Thu 06-Feb-14 17:58:48

I know different people have different opinions about how open then are with a diagnosis. TBH in this situation I think your going to make it very hard for yourself without being explicit about the diagnosis, probably to both.

The way I see it your DD needs to understand whilst (very important) the expectation of behaviour is the same for both her and DS, ("you both come and talk to me when you're upset about something"), your DS will find that much more difficult than her. Therefore when DS is shouting and screaming he is really trying very hard to tell you he is upset, whereas it is much easier for DD to come and tell you something so you would not accept her shouting and screaming. He will take much much longer to get to the point where he can just tell you (maybe never).

She might struggle to accept that difference. Which is where the diagnosis comes in handy "why does he find xyz difficult" because "he has autism which means his brain is wired differently and he will find something's much harder than you do". Not sure how you give you DD the understanding without also being quite open about DS' difficulties.

paperlantern Thu 06-Feb-14 18:05:35

I'm not sure that made as much sense as I would like confused

bialystockandbloom Thu 06-Feb-14 19:22:24

paper I do understand that, and agree with you. We'll tell ds explicitly about his dx when it seems the right time. And in the meantime I do try and explain about his behaviour without referring to the name of the condition itself, iyswim. We're not hiding his difficulties, eg if he gets disproportionally angry about something, we work on it but will also say to her that he finds it hard to stay as calm as some other children.

My worry is more that dd can't help being influenced (not in every way, of course) by him, as I guess younger siblings are by their older ones. And I suppose at her age (recently 4) actions speak louder than words, so even with the explanations etc you suggest, I can see several ways he's influencing her in a not-so-good way eg the dr who obsession, which is rubbing off on her conversation now. She looks up to him, thinks he's great, so ergo, thinks what he loves and talks about is great. Whichi is fine, but when it has the affect that she then goes and talks about Dr Who to children at nursery (who I'm guessing probably don't watch it grin) it isn't helping her integrate too well.

His behaviour, and communication, is actually brilliant most of the time, so the problem isn't really situations that arise which I'd then have to explain to her, eg meltdowns, anger, as these are actually non-existent/very infrequent.

It's more the ways in which his autism has made him, um, a bit out-of-synch with 'normal' (yuk) interaction, conversations etc, and that she is copying him in ways which I don't think are helping her.

Hope that makes sense too confused

bialystockandbloom Thu 06-Feb-14 19:27:13

And yes, the 'brain wired differently' approach will certainly be the kind of one we'll use - but I don't think the time is right yet.
But you've hit on a very good point though - I certainly should/could be doing more to get this message across to her without having to be specific (yet) about his diagnosed condition.

BarbarianMum Thu 06-Feb-14 20:13:08

Please don't worry about Dr Who. All younger siblings pick up on stuff their older siblings are into to a certain extent. She will have great street cred when she starts reception.

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