Being A Sibling To A Brother Who Has Meltdowns

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...

When my non-verbal son with autism becomes scared, sees something he is attracted to, or simply gets bored; he runs.

It is terrifying for me as his parent, but I often forget just how terrifying it is for his sister too.

I found him a few minutes later flapping at a lift he had never been in before, yet innately seemed to know exactly where it was.

It would have been no use announcing for him over any radio since he hardly responds to me calling his name yet alone a random tannoy announcement.

It would equally have been no use alerting the police since he has no idea who they are and would simply scream and meltdown worse if they went near him.

Experience has taught me the only way to deal with his running is to find him and bribe him back.

My mind goes into overdrive every single time and my heart feels like it will burst out of my chest. 

I am an adult. How much more traumatising, frightening and lonely must it feel to be the sibling when your brother has once again gone into meltdown? 

Suddenly being left on your own HAS to affect you, whatever age you are.

Being abandoned in favour of your sibling has to damage any tender heart.

My daughter is patient, understanding and sympathetic of her twin brother but there are also times when she fears him too.

He currently has a major issue about doors. 

If he sees any door open he instantly changes into an aggressive, physically demanding, loudly protesting and screaming ball of anger.

His sister has been bitten, pushed, scratched, screamed at and attacked during these times to the point she gathers up all her precious items and sits in a corner quietly whenever it happens, patiently waiting for the storm to pass.

My heart tells me she needs so much support, love and reassurance and yet often she sees me run once again to the child in meltdown who, for his own safety, needs me urgently.

Is it any wonder so many siblings of children with autism are crying out for support?

The unpredictability of life with a brother or sister with autism is hard for parents to live with but 100 times harder for siblings.

The change in atmosphere when peace becomes war within seconds creates uncertainty, fear and concern that no child should have to live with.

She should be able to shop without concern that lights, music or crowds will stress her brother out.

She should be able to invite friends around to play without concern about her brother's behaviour.

She should not be afraid to spend her pocket money on something she likes simply because she knows it might cause her brother to have yet another meltdown.

She should not be prevented going to museums or the cinema just because her brother cannot cope with them.

There are days she gets angry.

There are days she is so obviously scared.

Other days she is demanding, craving the attention she should naturally get but often doesn't due to her brother.

Yet through it all she is courageous, mature and tender hearted.

She forgives easily, understands more than we give her credit for and refuses to let any meltdown dull the love she has for her twin.

Being sibling to a brother who has meltdowns is very tough. 

I worry about how the reality of this could affect her but she proves time and time again that there is ALWAYS a positive.

I am raising a compassionate, brave and forgiving child because she is a sibling to a brother who has meltdowns.

Let us never forget the siblings. They are amazing.


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