A Letter To My Son, The Sibling Of A Kid With Special Needs


A thank you letter to my son ,

Being an older brother to a sibling with severe autism has not always been easy. It’s a job you never asked for but you took with stride. 


At times it was a very difficult and that is putting mildly. 

Thank you for loving your little sister wholeheartedly. 

You were her light in the darkest of times. 

When her life was filled with sensory overload, and nothing made sense to her little body , and she was completely overwhelmed by our world. 

When she would lash out and hurt you just for saying my name and I would have to send you out of the room for your safety. 

You never got mad at her and always adored her. 

Thank you for letting her follow you around and always being there to hug her and tickle her, whatever made her happy. 

For getting down on the floor with her and playing her way. 

For connecting with her in any way you could. 

Thank you for being a loyal big brother and always protecting her when others had no understanding of autism.

For loving her and trying to reach her even when she seemed unreachable. 

For never giving up and for understanding that her brain worked differently and that is wasn’t her fault. 

How could you understand this at 5 years old?

I don’t know how but you did. 

You never stayed mad or blamed her. 

Thank for being the happiest easiest going little boy when my heart was breaking in to pieces trying to come to grips with a life altering diagnosis. 

For sitting with early intervention and helping them engage with her. 

For understanding that we couldn’t go to play dates because her behavior was so unpredictable. 

Thank you for sometimes being disappointed but never taking it out on her. 

For understanding how much extra care and supervision she needed and never complaining

Thank you for going along with me when I needed that picture, you know the ones where you had to smile for fifteen minutes while I chased her and all but wrestled her down.

Thank you for holding her tight so I could get that picture while she would be trying push you away, kick or roll over you , but you took it in-stride. 

You couldn’t have known how much it meant to me to get that picture. I just wanted a picture of my two beautiful children.

I needed some kind of normalcy even though it was anything but.

There are a thousand examples or how things went awry, things you lost out on, gave up, had to leave in the middle of. 

And yes it was disappointing at times but your love for her, your connection never wavered. 

I tried my hardest to make it up to you. 

I tried to spend alone time with you, have others take you so you could get a break, bring you places, spoil you. You had every video game and Pokémon card that could be bought .

You nana your grandparents and aunties saw it too and they tried to make it up to you too. I am forever grateful for that as well. 

But how can you make up for a lost childhood, for having to grow up too fast?

You can’t.

I felt torn in two at times. 

My love for both of you so strong but her needs surpass yours and there was nothing I could do to change that, and then came your sisters two girls, two years apart . A whirlwind you could say. 

Again you stepped up. 

Thank you. 

Thank you for bottle holding, baby loving and all the madness that went along with it. 

And then things got better a little easier and you got to be a different kind of big Brother. 

I read about siblings of special needs children.  They are sometimes referred to as glass children. I thought, that makes sense because you become so strong, but are also fragile

That is not the meaning of a glass child. It means that parents are so consumed with the special needs child, that they look right through you and don’t even see you as if you are a piece of glass. 

I immediately thought did I do that?
Did you feel invisible like you didn’t matter?

I have handled a lot but this I don’t think I can handle.

My mama guilt is coming on full force, I already carry so much.

So I came to you and asked you. Looking you right in the eye as I tried to hide the fact that my heart was shattering again even considering this. I asked you to be honest , I needed to know.

You told me that you felt like you missed out on opportunities that you could have had. If it wasn’t for having a sister with special needs that your life would have been different.

I know this to be true , but it still hurt like hell to hear.

But you went on to say that it’s ok and it’s not her fault and it’s not my fault, it’s just what is.

Thank you for that grace. 

I cry as I type this because it feels like an impossible job to be pulled into all different directions for all these years and feeling that I didn’t get it right. There is no easy answer. 

But today it doesn’t matter to you, today you just love her for who she is just like always . Today you make time to hug her to make her laugh.

Thank you for that. 

I know you don’t need thanks or even expect it but you sure deserve it .

I am sorry that I couldn’t always be the mother I wanted to be for you, and that I was pulled into the uncharted waters of having a child with a disability and some days I could barely keep my head above water. 

Thank you for being my life raft even though that was not supposed to be your job. 

I know this has made you stronger and more compassionate, you are a better person for loving her, for having her in your life. 

Thank you for being the best big brother she could ever have. 

The best son I could asked for and I love you more than you’ll ever know


This post originally appeared on Autism Adventures With Alyssa


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