A sibling’s simple Christmas wish

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

It’s been over three months now and it’s just becoming more normal.

My son just won’t be in the downstairs of the house after school.

He is autistic and non verbal with other complex needs and he can’t tell me what is troubling him.

Of course at age 12 wanting to be in his own room would be considered ‘normal’ but it’s so very different when your child has complex needs. 

The problem is he can’t be left unattended. 

He could have a seizure, he can’t communicate if he needs anything, he is developmentally just a young toddler and he still puts everything in his mouth, causes damage and isn’t safe to be alone. 

But how do you balance the needs of one child who has extremely high support needs with the needs of your other children? 

When my son was finally asleep last night and the monitors were all on I sat with his sister and we talked about school, friends, her toys and games, and then we moved on to Christmas. 

I asked her what she would like for Christmas and she handed me a simple drawing. 

‘I miss you mum’ 

All she wanted as a sibling of a disabled child for Christmas was to have time with her mum.

The guilt can be hard to bear at times.

Like many I can find myself over compensating by getting her books or a new game or over planning the time we do get with activities like shopping, cooking or playing box games.

These are all good but sometimes all she wants is to be able to tell me about her day at school, or something she’s read or share her excitement that it started snowing.

Those are the things she misses as a sibling to a complex needs brother.

These are the things I miss as her mum too. 

Her simple drawing hit me hard but it also gave me the deepest respect for all the other siblings of complex needs children. 

Last night I made a promise to my daughter, not just for Christmas but for life.

When I look at things that will help my son, help my family and make things easier I promised her I wouldn’t just look at my sons needs but at hers too. 

Yes my son needs me but his sibling needs me just as much, not just at Christmas but in every other season too. 

She’s not asking for the latest toy, or the most expensive technology.

She’s not made a long list of wants or asked for something ridiculously expensive.

She’s asked for something every child should receive freely: love and time. 

The very thing we all need to give and receive in abundance, this year more than ever. 

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