We learned that Squeaker had autism long before he was diagnosed at the age of 4. That was 6 years ago. It took us that long to decide to have another child. After all, the statistics were not in our favor as far as having another autistic child goes. With 1 in 68 children having autism and with the knowledge that I’ve got autistic nephews, it seemed highly likely that our next child would have it as well. Are we good enough parents to handle having another autistic child? We wondered if it was a good idea, but ultimately I wanted Squeaker to having a sibling. As it turns out, having a brother has been really good for him.
Why Having a Brother is Good for my Autistic Son
There are several reasons why having a sibling has been good for Squeaker.
He has learned to share
Things we never imagined he’d share, he’s begun to share with his brother. His most prized possessions he shared hesitantly at first. Then, something miraculous happened. He began sharing more regularly. Last night, he let his brother sleep with his weighted cat. This is a big deal. A wonderful, fantastically awesome reality.
He uses his imagination now
Before, all of his play was lining up toys and very repetitive. Squeaker’s brother has taught him how to use his imagination. They play games together. They fight monsters together. They heal Betsy (Squeaker’s stuffed cat). It’s wonderful to watch them play together.
He’s learning patience
Before having a sibling, Squeaker expected things to happen immediately. Not only does he now know that he must share attention, but sometimes he has to wait for things. His brother doesn’t always do things on his timeline either. It’s beautiful to see him begin waiting patiently for things to happen.
We see this innate empathy more now
You’ll never see a more protective brother than Squeaker. No one messes with his brother. He once stood up for him and protected him from perceived danger. Not only that, but he cries when his brother cries. He hates to see anyone get hurt, and we see that more now that he has a brother. It’s a fallacy of logic that autistic children lack empathy. In truth, they feel our pain so much that it hurts them too.
He’s learned to entertain himself more
He no longer expects us to be his sole source of entertainment. He invites his brother to play along with him. He comes up with games to play. Whether they’re pretending to do a fire drill or a tornado drill or make a hospital, he’s coming up with his own source of entertainment. And best of all, he invites his brother to participate with him.
I wouldn’t take either of my children back for the entire world. They are my world. I love watching them together. I love their hugs and kisses. I love how they make each other better people. After all, having a sibling isn’t just good for Squeaker. Having Squeaker has been good for his brother. If you’re at home wondering if you should have another child because your child has autism, know this: There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing your children interact well with one another. I have no regrets.