Throwback Post: Being a Sibling to One With Special Needs

(I recently changed the hosting company for this website, along with all other websites I manage. In the aftermath, my draft posts got deleted. Oh no! Fortunately, they were in the back up and could be reinstalled. However, the original draft dates were deleted. I’m taking that as a sign that it’s time to do cleanup and housekeeping.)

(Thomas and Lillian – 2010 – Geiger Way Lookout)


After a huge Lillian meltdown this morning which caused him to be a wee bit late for school.

I am trying to help him notice when it’s not a good idea to push Lillian. He does try so hard, but just wants to not have to try sometimes. Lillian is making huge progress, yet, we still have those moments. Thomas’ teacher shares often with me how she enjoys his presence in the classroom as he’s so empathetic and compassionate.

I have recently pulled back from intervening when they decide to be unkind with one another. I’ve explained that I have taught them methods to use and I model those methods. It is up to them whether they use them or not.

This morning it escalated, I remained calm and not involved. It escalated and escalated and escalated. There was screaming and door slamming. I remained calm and not involved. I got scratched and pinched, I remained calm. I kept emphasizing that I’d be happy to help her get calm and to let me know when she was ready. And. Finally, Lillian asked for help in calming down. I walked her through a meditative breathing exercise and we moved on …. I don’t always remain calm. I did this morning and it makes such a huge, huge, huge difference when I do. Mindfulness is an amazing way to live …

Yes, this. I am blessed and grateful that we are a team. I am having the time of my life on this journey with them. The joy, suffering, happiness, peace, love, and all … xoxo

**June 2020 Update** – Six years later. I’d love to say that Thomas and Lillian get along fabulously now. They don’t. Lillian is 18 and Thomas is 14.

Thomas has much anger and unsettled feelings about being Lillian’s sibling. The years of horrific meltdowns. I mean we just had one at 1:30am this morning. I’ve told him as often as I could remember that it was okay to be angry, okay to have whatever feelings he has about the situation.

Much of my time being spent with Lillian. Not having a typical sibling, with a typical sibling relationship, doing typical activities as a family. These all became too much at some point, with him internalizing much. This is something we will be addressing at some point this year.

Lillian has much jealousy towards Thomas, for all the things he can do that she can’t do. Jealous of my time spent with him, jealous even when he and I speak to one another. Jealous may not be the word to use here, it’s quite possibly stems from something else. She may have internalized some trauma from her childhood. All issues to be addressed when she is ready to do so.

I do not share to receive comfort or sympathy. I share as that’s what I know I am to do. I share so other siblings and parents know they are not alone. As I know that in the past I have felt guilt and shame when observing a sibling with their special needs sibling getting along fabulously, with compassion and love. Wondering what I had done wrong. I now know I have done nothing wrong. People are just different.

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

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