There are many things about special needs parenting that can be very challenging. One of the things that I find to be exceptionally difficult is managing the resentment that can arise from having different rules for different kids. Let me clarify what I mean by resentment and where it’s coming from.
When you have more than one child, one of which has Autism, things can get very complicated.
I’ll use my family as an example. In the Lost and Tired family, all three of our boys are on the Autism Spectrum. Each of our children face different challenges and their ability to cope to with things varies greatly as well. Gavin, our oldest, is by far the most complex. He faces more than his fair share of challenges. His threshold for stimulation is also the lowest of the three boys. This means that he’s the easiest to overstimulate and is overwhelmed by things that Elliott and Emmett do fine with.
This presents a unique problem.
Whether you have multiple children on the Autism Spectrum or a child with Autism and a neuro-typical child, there will likely be different rules and limitations for each child. I’ll give you an example. Gavin is the oldest of our three boys and loves video games. However, Gavin doesn’t handle playing video games very well and becomes overstimulated and aggressive quite quickly. He has always been this way.
Over the years, we have tried all kinds of ways to incorporate video games into his life in a way that is healthy for him but have been met with little success.
The only thing that has ever really worked was to simply not allow him to play. Elliott and Emmett on the other hand, share Gavin’s love and talent for video games but don’t have the same issues with playing them. Gavin gets upset at times that he’s the oldest and yet he can’t play video games.
Remember how I mentioned resentment earlier, this is where it comes into play.
In the Lost and Tired family, it has become necessary to have different rules for each of the boys. In many cases, Elliott and Emmett get much more freedom and latitude than Gavin does. This is a necessary evil because we have to try and keep Gavin as stable as possible. It’s not about playing favorites or punishing anyone.
It simply comes down to doing whats best for each of our kids by providing them with the least restrictive environment possible. This means that there will be things that Elliott can do that Gavin won’t be allowed to do. Similarly, there may be things that Emmett can do the both Gavin and Elliott will not be permitted to do, There will also be times that Gavin will be doing things that Elliott and Emmett can’t. I think you get the point.
We have found that their age has little to do with what they can or cannot do.
We have to look at each child as an individual and do whats best for them, while at the same time allowing the others to spread their wings.
However, there is a potential downside to this and that is resentment. Resentment is something that I think everyone experiences at one time or another. Having said that, when your dealing with kids that struggle with emotions, boundaries. anger, frustration or some other type of challenge that would make experiencing resentment a much more difficult feeling to cope with, unique problems can present themselves.
We have been told over and over again by our doctors and specialists that we have to be very careful that Gavin doesn’t get resentful because he could take it out on his brothers. At the same time, we are told that we will have to have different rules for each child, based on their unique and individual needs. Each of our boys is different as are their abilities and limitations.
Luckily, thus far, we haven’t experienced much in the way of resentment. However, that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down either. We do see meltdowns over things like this. When my kids get frustrated, they can lash out at each other, usually in the form of screaming.
We always have to do our best to make sure that our kids have the least restrictive environment possible, while still ensuring that necessary limitations are in place.
What is your experience in this area? Do you find yourself having to have different rules for different kids? Do any of your kids get resentful or angry over this?
I would love to hear from you on this issue. I think this is one of the things that can make special needs parenting so exhausting. it would be so much easier at times to just let things slide but sometimes you just have to do what’s best for your child regardless of their feelings on the issue.