"Heart to Heart" with Dr. Sally: Question about daughter feeling left out due to son's special need


Dr. Sally recently started up a "Heart to Heart" column here at Early Childhood News and Resources. Here was our first post:

Question about language development and potty training

dr-sallyHere is our second parent question:

"I have a 6 year old with ADHD and on the Autism Spectrum and a 12 year old with aspergers.  Often my daughter feels left out because of the daily issues we deal with from day to day with out sons.  I have special time set aside for her and we sit and talk everyday as well.  She still feels like she is left out because of the attention that is required for the other two.  Any suggestions on what else I can do to help her feel like she isn't left out?  It is a tough struggle when children have special needs and I would love to be able to coordinate this a little better."

(This parent has asked to remain anonymous)

Here is Dr. Sally's reply:

Ohhh! I totally understand. This is not an easy situation. Special needs are special, and they do require a lot of attention. Here are some new ways you might want to think about your situation. I hope you will find the ideas helpful.

* Attention: Since everyone needs attention, think of your mothering time as being divided into three equal parts.

* Feeling Needed: Since everyone likes to feel valued, needed, and important, use your own creativity to think of fun ways that your daughter can make a real difference in the lives of her brothers.

* Normal Life: Since the goal for everyone is to have as normal a life as possible, do whatever you can to foster your daughter's schedule in ways that are important to her. Let her know you understand her feelings and that you will do whatever you can to help. Invite her to tell you any time of night or day ideas she may have about ways you can make changes.

Did you ever think about making a family mission statement? A lot of families really like that, and it is something you can all work on together. You would be amazed how this process can pull people together. Formulating a family goal is not easy, but the process is terrific. As they say, "You can't get there if you don't know where you are going."

NOTE: See Special Needs for additional background about special needs.

More questions will be answered soon!

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