Radically Different Viewpoints
I got a lovely comment yesterday on my ‘About’ page, which read at the end that, “Your blog is a very different point of view into the day to day of a child with special needs, than that of a mum.” Now that puzzled me. I’d always assumed that my point of view of my brother was roughly the same as my parents. A little more irreverent and irresponsible, but roughly the same. I think now that there are a number of ways in which we may have different viewpoints.
My parents have gone through some intense feelings. They have gotten wrapped up in Yasin’s pain and his struggles. We, as siblings, are not half as wrapped up as they are. Every time Yasin accomplishes something, they are immensely proud. But every time Yasin gets hurt, they feel immense pain. For me, this part is true too. My parents had to go through a lot. They had to face numerous therapies and therapists. They were hurt by callous doctors. And they were angry at the public who inflicted the greatest pain on them repeatedly. Special needs parenting changed them completely. They had to give Yasin extra attention, understanding, and love. They had to work on their marriage. They had to mourn the loss of a healthy son. They had to cope with denial. Anxiety. Guilt. Anger. Depression. Financial strain. Loss of control. Blame. They also had to keep their other well-children healthy and happy. This is a lot to write about, and makes an interesting blog. I never went through any of this.
Yasin’s siblings on the other hand… Well, they didn’t even know that something was up until their parents told them. And, they chose not to tell us for quite some time. We thought that Yasin was perfectly fine, even though he was somewhat developmentally delayed. We never had to face our parent’s emotional distress. We came to know of Yasin’s condition in the most natural way as was possible then. A few questions, some well-chosen answers. My parents came to know through harsh doctor’s diagnoses and medical notes. So, perhaps this blog lacks any emotional depth. Yes, we love Yasin. But, it’s just radically different loving Yasin as a sibling than as a parent. And, obviously, since we are not there with him 24/7, we don’t have a lot to share. I only occasionally mind Yasin. And I never have to do too much care. The normal feelings siblings of special needs children feel? I never experienced them. Studies show that in addition to feeling protective and loving toward them, the well-child can feel angry at, guilty about, or even embarrassed by his special needs sibling. Any feelings we had were not overlooked and were talked over. My parents did not have this luxury. They had to sort out everything by themselves. Explaining my brother’s condition was very painful for my parents, so sometimes I would spare them this pain by just looking through their CP books. Once I knew what was going on, I began to understand the family dynamics more completely, and admired my parents’ abilities. I never felt any pain whilst explaining my brother’s condition.
They taught us that there was no right way to feel. Whenever I felt angry about Yasin (rarely, in may case), I just expressed it. My parents couldn’t do that. I never felt embarrassed by Yasin. If I needed to distance myself from Yasin, then my parents would let me do that. Did my parents have this option? I’d drift slowly in, after time. Time my parents didn’t have. As Yasin was diagnosed when I was a pre-teen, there was the risk of my being rather embarrassed because he was different. But, I didn’t develop that aspect of myself, and was content to show Yasin off to all my friends (not that I had any). I did feel rather guilty, though. I felt that Yasin didn’t deserve the problems he had. I felt guilty for affecting my sibling in a bad way. They had to handle tremendous guilt. As I am the eldest, there was no danger of my being uncomfortable with surpassing Yasin athletically. I never did act out because of Yasin’s problems. My parents had to handle all these emotions and more. My parents had to act out sometimes. Not on us or Yasin. But on themselves.
The differences are infinite. But the main difference is that I am not as observant of Yasin as my parents are and that they had to go through great emotional distress whilst I didn’t. With other special needs families, it may be the case that the siblings go through the same emotional and physical burden as the parents. But, at least with me, it’s not so.