Two Different Peas, One Pod: Help for Siblings

A mom shares that one of her biggest ongoing concerns is the impact her child with ADHD might have on her child without ADHD.

Peas in a pod
Peas in a pod

As the mother of two – a daughter, Natalie, with ADHD, and a neuro-typical son, Aaron – one of my biggest ongoing worries is the impact Natalie’s ADHD has on Aaron.

Aaron does not like to talk about the subject, except to say, “GROUND HER!” a dozen times a day – when Natalie sneaks into his room on impulse to do a grab-and-run. When she’s in the midst of a fit and she rockets a handful of Legos in his direction. When he’s too embarrassed to have friends over because Natalie’s toys and clothes and discarded craft projects are spread throughout our house thicker than peanut butter on a slice of bread.

I was thrilled to find a touching, beautifully executed new book that will serve as a great conversation starter for talking with our typical kids about their relationships with their special needs siblings. The book is Autism and Me: Sibling Stories, written by Ousie Shapiro, with photographs by Steven Vote, published by Albert Whitman & Company. Autism and Me introduces us to 14 sets of siblings, each featured on a two-page spread. Expressive color photos are paired with the typical siblings’ first-person description of his/her autistic sibling and the relationship they share.

Yes, this book is about autism, not ADHD, but our typical kids will have many “That’s sounds like our family!” moments as they read this book. Ravi has an aide that helps him in school. Ron has trouble with transitions. Jack was disruptive in a restaurant. Each of these moments presents a non-threatening opportunity for our kids to talk about their feelings, and to compare and contrast the experiences described in the book with their own. What’s more, we can teach our typical children a little more about ADHD during an informal conversation about the book.

Just between you and me, I sent a query to Albert Whitman & Company proposing that I author ADHD and Me: Sibling Stories. (I’m always on the lookout for new writing and publishing opportunities.) Is that a book you would buy? Cross your fingers for me as I wait – probably several months – for a reply. In the meantime, share Autism and Me with your children. I’d love to hear, via your comments, where the resulting conversation leads.