I'm in the middle of a separation that has many levels of drama and it's taking me a lot to manage. Meanwhile, I have 4 children - 3 boys and a girl. I have a teen that is on the Autism spectrum and one 2 yrs older. The 14 yr old has been having meltdowns and the 16 yr old is reacting to them which only escalates things in to fist fights and hole punches in my walls and asking for the male neighbors to come over and support me to bring order. The older one is suffering from the loss of his dad who at the same time resents for what he feels he suffered in abuse at his hands but, longs for him. It's just so much and I'm concerned that things will totally break before I can figure how to get past everyone’s hurt and now resentments and anger with each other. Help!!!!
Re: Siblings reacting to meltdowns...
Having a youngster with any type of developmental disability can be very stressful for the parents and the siblings of that youngster. This may be seen to be even more so at times for kids with (physically) hidden syndromes like Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism.
Kids with physical disabilities have a more visible and obvious disability. Whereas kids on the autistic spectrum tend to look exactly like other kids but can behave very differently.
For siblings this behavior can be difficult to understand even when they are aware of their sibling's Aspergers. Many siblings can think of their Aspergers sibling as simply naughty or rude – particularly if they are quite young and unable to fully understand the issues involved.
Siblings may often feel embarrassed around peers, frustrated by not having the type of relationship with their sibling that they wanted or expected, and/or angry that the youngster with Aspergers requires so much of the parents' time. This can often mean the youngster not wanting to ask friends over to play, as they fear their sibling may embarrass them.
It is hard enough for parents of the youngster with Aspergers to understand why their youngster has this syndrome, much less why they behave the way they do.
Teach siblings about Aspergers to the extent that they are able to understand. Let them know that it is okay to be frustrated with their sibling who is affected, but it won't help their relationship.
Let siblings know what that youngster needs, again to the extent that they can understand and provide as normal of an environment as possible. Try to make this as concrete as possible, and provide real life examples of what you mean that they can follow and relate to.
Obviously some family dynamics can make this tricky - but try to make some special parent-child time with the non-Aspergers sibling at least weekly.
In order to do this you may need to look to your family, friends or local social services to offer the youngster with Aspergers somewhere to go for some respite (while you can then do some activity with their sibling).
This may mean staying in and watching a video or just chilling out in peace. Or it could involve a set activity like swimming, the cinema, walking, shopping etc. Whatever it is try to make it youngster-focused so that your youngster gets to determine what you do (within reason!)
It is often tempting to coddle the youngster with developmental disabilities, like Aspergers, and expect the other kids to do so as well. But, the youngster with Aspergers will benefit and learn social skills from their siblings as well, and they should be entitled to a reasonable amount of sibling rivalry as well as any other youngster.
You don't want to deny the youngster with Aspergers the typical childhood, which includes fighting over toys and television shows. These formative sibling relationships and experiences have a major effect on kids as they grow up (regardless of Aspergers).
So to summarize, siblings need to know enough about their brother or sister's issues to give them an understanding at their level. They also need to know that it is OK to feel some negative emotions at times toward their sibling, and where ever possible, they need a little "special" time with you on their own.
My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums