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The Other Kid

When I saw the title of this book I assumed it was talking about the special needs kid as “The Other Kid” in the class or in some peer situation, but upon closer look it is actually talking about the siblings of special needs children. For me this is a particularly interesting topic, A because James has two young siblings and B because we have been focusing on teaching James’s brother and sister empathy and kindness, and not worrying as much about the effect James will have on them.

Click here to see the book: http://www.theotherkid.com/book.html

Since our children are so young we haven’t had to really deal with this issue yet. My 2 yr old daughter still thinks James is a regular awesome big brother and they often play, and fight, the way typical brothers and sisters do. The book gets great reviews on Amazon. When I peeked inside the book there were pages that prompted siblings to draw or write about times they felt sad in a situation with their disabled brother or sister, and another page with what they all could do together.  The “sad page” example was that the child felt sad when her disabled brother didn’t get in trouble for breaking her toys. My knee-jerk reaction was “Hopefully this child will understand that her disabled brother couldn’t help it,” and “Why was the disabled child allowed to break her toys without any repercussions?” But, the reality of the situation is that these feelings come up in children and they should be allowed to go through the process of dealing with their sibling’s disability the same way we as parents go through a process of coming to terms with our child’s disability. I don’t think my husband or I are even through the whole process yet since James’s “symptoms” and issues change on a monthly basis these days, but I know that we have both experienced our own sadness, anger and impatience at different times.

I know of many sibling “success” stories, and have been privileged to meet several typical brothers and sister who play a very positive, inspirational role in their disabled sibling’s life. I have also met parents who have confided that their typical children do not get along with the disabled child at all, and that it is wreaking havoc on their family. I am very interested to hear sibling stories from others, and also would like to know if anyone has used this book at home. What do you think about the concept of this book? Please leave your stories and opinions in the comments section. I plan to buy a copy and will let you know more about it once I read it myself.

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  1. Marcie
    April 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Michaela 🙂 Love the blog… this of course is a topic near and dear to me, as I’ve now got 4 siblings for my Hunter-bear. He of course is quite low-functioning (still non verbal, still not toilet trained, still unable to feed himself at now 13.5 years old). My second child, Joey, is now almost 6 years old. He definitely understands that Hunter is different than his friends’ older siblings. I actually find it interesting to watch Joey interact with one of his friend’s older brothers, who is about 10 months younger than Hunter. Joey idolizes this boy–he thinks everything he does is amazing. I often wonder if it is because he longs for an older brother who he can look up to.

    Joey seems to understand that Hunter can’t really “help it” when he does things like break things, or trips over Joey if Joey is laying on the floor (Hunter doesn’t watch where he’s walking). He makes allowances for him, saying “Well, Hunter can’t help it, he just can’t do that”. Even more fascinating is how well he actually KNOWS his older brother. When we’re training a new provider for Hunter, they often at first have difficulty distinguishing between his happy noises and his upset noises. One time, about a year ago, this happened, and Joey piped up, saying, “Oh, no, he’s not upset right now, that’s a happy noise.” Amazing, isn’t it?

    As for Charlotte, well, she is now almost 4. She is like a little mother towards Hunter–she chastises him when he does the wrong thing. It’s quite funny to watch him actually listen to her! She used to be quite enamored by her older brother, but now she sees him as a nuisense. I honestly don’t believe that she understands that he is “different,” but she is still young.

    And, of course, the twins are just babies at 10 months. Both think he’s interesting to watch, but Abbie likes to get up close and personal with him–just as Joey once did.

    Hunter tolerates all of his siblings, to an extent. He actually has realized that Joey is quite useful to him, as Joey can use the remote and control the TV set, which Hunter cannot do. So he will frequently go to Joey and “ask” him to help change the channel by handing Joey the remote!

    This book sounds like it will be a great reference for me in the future.

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