Thursday, July 14, 2011

eSpecially Parents July Edition: The Typs

 You will have one of two reactions to what I am about to say - you may be horrified or you may laugh. Ryan, my husband, loving father to our three boys, may sometimes refer to Logan and Sean as "the typs." As in, "I am going to the pool and taking the typs with me."  I did not get it at first.


Ryan was referring to Logan and Sean, our typical children. Okay, breathe, either from laughing or nostrils flaring. Now you can smile, humor is big in our house. And a play on words is just the tip of the iceberg. No pun intended.

When a couple's first child has special needs, the decision to have another child becomes more complicated. Often doctors warn that the next child has a high percentage of having the same issues. I believe Ryan and I were told the same thing, but that time is foggy to me. When Ben was one year old, I knew that I was pregnant. I do not remember worrying about how this next one would be. We asked the OB, and they spent extra time going over the ultrasounds to check the baby's brain development. Other than that, we really did not give it a lot of thought. To us, there was not a lot we could do about it anyway.

Logan was born strong, very large and completely typical. We were amazed everyday by what Logan could do. We marveled as he held his head up, rolled over with ease and met each milestone without us lending a hand. We laughed about how parents of typical children complained how hard it was to raise a child - this was a breeze compared to what we knew with Ben.

We were not careful enough when Logan was tiny and he was bitten by Ben uncountable times. For awhile, Logan introduced him to others as, "Ben, my biting brother." It took a long time for those emotional scars to heal. When they did, Logan grew into an understanding brother - always mindful to make sure Ben was included. I still remember when at two years old, Logan gave the pediatrician a hard time about not giving Ben a sticker after the visit. When the doctor defended himself saying that Ben would just eat the sticker, Logan told the doctor it needed to go on Ben's back. An advocate from an early age, Logan still gives me a hard time if I am feeding Ben when Ben should be doing it independently.

Then came Sean. He is almost five years younger than Ben. At 18 months, we found Sean feeding Ben oatmeal. At two, he would try to help Ben walk. Now at three, he helps Ben use his walker, push him in the wheelchair, wake him up in the morning and feed him gold fish. When Ben laughs, Sean turns to me and says, "Ben is happy."

As I write this, they are all camping together. Ben's needs add a dimension of difficulty to every situation from physical to behavioral, but I think because we want our family to experience everything, we just go with the flow and make adaptations when needed. I think Ryan and I make life as normal as possible for our family. The usual sibling rivalry that includes fighting over toys, second desserts, movie choices and who gets to stay up late lets us know we have achieved normalcy.

Both Logan and Sean have a lot of questions about Ben. Sean used to recite this frequently, "Mommy talks, Daddy talks, Der (his name for Logan) talks, Sean talks, Ben no talks." Obviously he was trying to work out something in his brain.  Logan and Sean have had the opportunity through Ben's school and camp to meet many children with special needs. I try to answer their questions the best way I can with simple answers.  Logan refers to the people we meet as "the needs people."

Next year, when Logan is seven, he will be eligible to attend a local SibShop, a special program for siblings of a brother or sister with special needs. Logan is an emotional and sensitive kid, and I think going somewhere to talk about his feelings, and meet other kids in the same situation as he, will help him understand his world a little bit better.

The future...I do have expectations that Logan and Sean take over Ben's care when Ryan and I are no longer able to do so. My hope is that Ben will be as independent as he can be, living in a group home. I also hope that the expectation to help out their brother is not a sanction, but something done out of love for Ben. 

Over the next several weeks, some of the writers for the eSpecially Parents series will talk about the typical children in their family, their decision to have more children and the issues that face them each day. Other posts from parents with only children will talk about their decision to have the one child and the impact on their own lives.

If you are a first time reader of the eSpecially Parents series, catch up here.


  1. Our nick name for our non special needs children is NTs standing for neurologically typical.

    Thanks for sharing.


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