Last night, Ethan spent the night with my mom which gave us the opportunity to have Jonah at home alone...well, Lindsey was here, too...but she is not the same as having the two boys together. Having Jonah alone is totally different than the two boys together. Jonah has not been diagnosed with any kind of needs other than his allergies and asthma, but last summer he started modeling quite a bit of Ethan's behaviors, or lack or behavioral responses.
I think modeling is one of the issues that can be often overlooked when you have one child with a special need like Asperger's and another one that does not. At the time Jonah was born, Ethan was just starting to show signs of regression in his development. The doctors would not acknowledge my concern so I tried to research myself. But at the same time, my new baby had issues of his own with this severe eczema, he would not nurse, we had to keep switching formulas, every vaccine caused a reaction. I was overwhelmed with problems in both of my boys. As the problems with Jonah eased up a bit, I continued to focus on Ethan. Naturally, I assumed that Jonah would just hit all the milestones like normal, because even the first 2 years, Ethan had. When it came time for talking, walking, Jonah was ahead of everyone. I did not worry about him in the least.
Where I "failed" (if you want to call it that), is that I neglected to spend the time with Jonah, teaching him things that you would teach your first child...things like problem solving, manners, taking turns. I just assumed, being the third, that he would pick it up. What I did not take into account was that Ethan did not have those skills to begin with and Lindsey was older so she really did not play with him. I did have Jonah in school, two or three mornings a week, but not enough time to learn those characteristics...especially when he was also out so much because of health reasons.
Last summer, as Jonah started modeling Ethan and acting more and more like him, we decided to have our psychologist talk to him. (I seriously need a discount there!) She explained to me that it is very common when a "typical" child is born after a "non-typical" child. The parents just become so focused on hepling the child that needs the help, the other child becomes overlooked. Whether it is a coping mechanism or the child honestly does not know the skills, that part of development just is not formed.
So, just like I have done with one issue after another with Ethan, I have tried over the last year to help Jonah. We have worked on anger, manners, problem solving, talking things through, etc. These are hard problems for a seven year old, especially when he sees both his big brother and his big sister having such an easy time with things. But I have to keep reminding myself that he is ONLY seven!
This morning, as he sat at the kitchen table and asked sweetly for some cereal...using his manners and kissing me as I brought him his bowl, I felt like this year has been worth it. It has been hard and I did not always like it. There have been days where I wanted to crawl into bed and never come out. I am sure there were days he would rather live somewhere else! But just like I will not let Ethan use his special needs as an excuse for him not succeeding, I will not let Jonah having a special needs brother be HIS excuse for not having the skills HE needs in life.
It is hard to accept as a parent, especially as a mom that you might be overlooking a child. You never want to think of one as a favorite, or worse, one as your LEAST favorite! Jonah is just more work....he is headstrong, stubborn, and unbreakable. He is also creative, imaginative, always thinking and can be incredibly sweet. Sometimes I prefer to do things the easy way and Jonah is the child that just cannot be raised the easy way. But that is ok....he is worth it! <3