Three years ago my family of four was gathered in Dr. Sletten’s (DAN doctor) office. We were discussing our son Anthony, and beginning our biomedical journey. I will never forget something Dr. Sletten said at our first appointment. He looked at my daughter Ashley, who at the time was only six months old, and he said “She’s going to be really good for Anthony. She’s going to teach him a lot.”
At that point I merely focused on the fact that they would be learning to speak around the same time. After all, Anthony at 3 1/2 years old, had just started saying his first words. But really, my daughter has taught Anthony so much in the past couple of years.
First let me tell you a little something about my daughter. Ashley is either the happiest person in the world, or freaking out over the smallest of details. She truly is my drama queen, and has been this way since birth. She is a child that loves to scream and whine. A characteristic that is not the best thing when you have another child with sensory processing issues.
Poor Anthony. Whenever Ashley would start having a meltdown, Anthony could not handle it. And at the time, he couldn’t verbalize his frustrations with her. So what did Anthony do to cope? He would scratch his face, hit himself, drag his head on the floor. It was heartbreaking to witness.
During these episodes I would have to put Ashley in her crib, take Anthony aside into another room, hold him tight and rock him back and forth to soothe him and try to talk him through it. These episodes would go on for about thirty minutes and were incredibly difficult to handle if I was the only parent at home. If ever there was a time I wish I could split myself in two, this would be one of those moments.
As Anthony’s speech improved with biomedical intervention, we worked really hard with him during these episodes. He started to verbally tell us what was upsetting him. Which we already knew was his sisters screaming. But being able to verbally express his frustrations helped calm him down.
Now that Anthony is 5, he has recovered from autism spectrum disorder. He is fully verbal. And I will tell you this, he tells his sister EXACTLY when she is getting on his nerves. But in my mind, Ashley helped Anthony learn to cope with sensory over load, and as of his last and final speech evaluation, the therapist tested him as having above average expressive language. I have to think Ashley contributed to that. =-)
Ashley has also been a wonderful role model for Anthony when it comes to pretend play. Before I had a child with autism, I never understood how something so simple as playing pretend, could be difficult. But it truly was for Anthony. Playing to Anthony, meant gathering things into piles or putting things in rows. But when Ashley started playing with toys, she introduced Anthony to a whole new world. She showed him how to play pretend in a way I never could. Since biomedical intervention, my children love to play pretend together. They love playing dress up, super heroes, doll house, and cooking with the pretend kitchen.
Seeing them together, interacting, sharing, carrying on conversations, and even having knock down drag out fights, it makes my heart so happy. They are being typical siblings. Siblings who love each other! These are the moments I dreamed about, and fought so hard for when it came to recovering Anthony. He deserved to have these experiences with his sister.
I hope as they grow up together they will remain close. I hope they will always be there for each other and continue to learn from each other as well. After all, a sibling is the first friend you ever have.
Thank you God for little sisters
They keep us on our toes.
They play with us and laugh with us
And mess up our Legos.
God gave me a sister
To teach me about life.
She loves and aggravates me
And gives me strength and strife.
Thank you God for little sisters
They are special as can be.
Don’t mess with my little sister
Or you’ll have to deal with me.
About the Author
Kimberly Ruckman is the author of the blog BioMed Heals which chronicles her son’s complete recovery from an autism spectrum disorder via biomedical intervention. She is married, has two children, and volunteers her time as a Grant Mentor for Generation Rescue. You can follow her on Twitter @biomedheals or Facebook/biomedheals.