Saturday, March 19, 2011

Coming Soon: Special Needs Sibling Saturdays

Something new is coming to The Squashed Bologna...

Starting next Saturday, I will be hosting a series of Guest Posts on a theme that I have called: Special Needs Sibling Saturdays

"Why?" you ask.

Good question.

I have never had guest posts here before.  My blog has always felt so personal, so "me," it seemed strange to have other voices here.

And yet... and yet... I have loved guest posting at others' blogs. I have loved the feeling of community engendered on others' sites where there are regular guest posts, especially those with a specific focus, a series on a theme.

I have been especially inspired by these guest post series I have had the honor of writing for: "Small Moments Mondays" at in these small moments, and "Mommypants Moments" at Mommypants.

(It is no coincidence that Nichole and Cheryl are two of the three hosts of The Red Dress Club, the wonderful virtual group that is such a lovely and supportive community for writers, whose prompts have sparked some of my favorite posts lately.)

So I thought and thought about what would fit in here, and about what would be meaningful to me.

And I realized that I wanted to do something kind of new and different. (Because I can't just take an easy, tried and true path can I? Don't even bother to answer that one.)

I thought: "What is my biggest, consistently hardest parenting issue? What do I struggle the most with, what do I truly NEED a community for?"

And it came to me quickly... the sibling stuff.

Because Special Needs kids and sibling issues? An explosive combination.

Nothing makes me cry more. Not the death of my father. Not autism in and of itself. But this: the extremely difficult relationship between my twin sons, one on the Autism Spectrum, one not.

I don't have a handle on it. I have NOT figured out how to make it work in our house. There is yelling, there are tears. There are often two unhappy, lonely, angry boys and a mother who is at the end of her rope in our house. I am not proud of this. I am saddened, deeply troubled.

That my children mostly do not get along, that it is so hard for us to function as a cohesive family unit?  Is probably the single most consistent source of pain in my life.

So that's what I'm hosting a guest series about. Not what I do best, but what I do worst. Because that's what I need to hear other voices about.

I want to know how others do it, and how others don't do it.

I know there are families where the typical children are their special needs siblings best friends, function as mini-therapists.  I know there are families where they have had to make the heart wrenching decision to send a child with special needs off to a residential unit, so dangerous were they to their other siblings.

I know most families stories lie somewhere in between. And I want to hear all the stories.

Because in every family where there is more than one child, and at least one of these children has special needs? It deeply affects the family dynamic, the balance, the rules of the house. What a family can and cannot do together. If, how and where they spend family vacations. Every fiber of the day to day fabric of their lives.

I have written about this myself, here. And I realize that while I mention it in passing all the time, with phrases like "...dreading a four day weekend alone with my boys who get along as well as Tom & Jerry..." I have only ever written a full post about it that one time. I guess it's just too painful.

So I want to create a safe place here for people to talk about this. All of it. The good and the bad. The beautiful moments and the ugly truths.

To spark their thoughts on this, I sent my guest posters a set of questions:

How you handle issues that come up between your kids?  How do the NT (neuro--typical) kids rise to the occasion - or not - of helping out their special sib?  How you juggle vastly differing needs of kids, does someone usually get the short end of the stick?  

What you do when the fighting gets bad?  What you do to help your kids support each other? Does it work? Really? How you scaffold your SN kids interactions w/ their NT sibs? How do you talk to your NT kids about how the SN kid's needs affect or limit your family's experiences and activities.  How do they feel about this?

What you do when the typical sibs friends come over – what you say to them about the SN kid and what you do if/when meanness comes up? What you do when YOUR NT kid is leading the meanness towards their sib (yes this has happened here)?  What have your NT kids said to you about their SN sibs - the positive and the negative.

If all of your kids are SN, how do you balance the needs of the most affected one against the needs of the others and vice versa?

And most importantly of all: how do you FEEL about all of this?

But this is just a starting point. I know this series will evolve, that my guests will write about things I have not yet even imagined. And that's one of the reasons I'm so excited about it all, a chance to learn something, myself, on my own blog. I am near giddy with delightful anticipation.

So that's what's coming:

Special Needs Sibling Saturdays: a Guest Post series.

It's starting up next Saturday, March 26th, which is, not coincidentally, the day after my father's birthday. I know I will be looking deeply backward that day. I needed to turn around the next day and plant a foot firmly toward the future, and what better way than to start this series?

I hope you're looking forward to it, I know I am. The first posts are rolling in and they're wonderful. So stay tuned. It all starts next Saturday...

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