Saturday, 23 May 2009
As soon as those around me found out I was pregnant, they asked the same question over and over. "How do you think Alex will adjust to having a baby around?" My answer was always the same. "He will be fine." (He had to be fine because it isn't like we could return the baby to the hospital. I know because I tried like hell to get my mom to take my little sister back and trade her for a baby that didn't cry all night or puke on my dolls.)
I love that people ask questions about Alex and how Autism affects him. I am always happy to answer whatever questions are posed. It shows me that they are interested and aren't going to make assumptions or give in to stereotypes.
Even small changes can present problems for those with ASD and a new baby is no small change. To prepare Alex for the coming baby, his school sent home a Social Story covering babies. I had Alex read me the story several times while I was pregnant. The story discusses some of the changes that come with a new baby and the fact that the baby will cry and that crying will sometimes be loud. That was enough to send Alex into the "I want to be an only child forever" camp. Ever since he read that story, when asked if he wanted a baby sister he would give a resolute, "NO" response. Still, I was convinced he would be fine. He has had people come in and out of his life from the start not to mention the fact that he has had 11 addresses in 7 cities in 4 states in his his 14 years of life. Surely a little baby would be small potatoes.
For the first week, Alex refused to even look at Leyla. If he had to be in the same room with her, he would block his eyes with his hand as he walked by her. He didn't want to hold her or touch her. Then, little by little, he would glance at her. By the second week, he would tickle her feet or touch a part of her face and even give her kisses with nothing more than some gentle encouragement. He still doesn't initiate much interest in her and he covers his ears as he runs upstairs if she starts to cry. Honestly, I don't blame him. She can belt out some powerful screams.
Alex is having a few more crying spells than usual. My husband and I go out of our way to try to reassure him and make sure he doesn't feel left out or replaced but as with any child...some jealousy is to be expected.
Personally, I think Alex is adjusting nicely. He isn't hostile to his sister and he will interact with her with very few prompts. I am sure he would still prefer to be an only child but as Leyla grows and is able to actually play, Alex will come around and be a fine big brother.
Did your older children have any difficulty adjusting to new siblings?