I'm at a loss and I'm praying for some guidance. My husband has a 19 year old high functioning autistic daughter and we have a 2 year old son together. When my step-daughter comes to visit us every other weekend and one day a week. She is having trouble tolerating our son. Any behavior that he does other than sit perfectly still, annoys her and she becomes agitated and yells at him and gets very upset and hysterical. This is most prevelant at the dinner table. She refuses to make eye contact with him and yells at him if he asks her any questions or tries to talk to her. She also cannot ride in the car to go on trips to visit relatives. My husband and I now have to drive seperate vehicles on long trips and we try to feed them seperately at dinner, but it does not always work. I want our family to be united not divided. What can I do to help her learn to tolerate him? My husband isn't much help as he says, "just deal with it, when our son is older, things will be better". I am very upset by his comments and I feel our son is going to grow up learning bad behaviors and/or be upset as to why his sister treats him this way. I just don't know what to do. I dread my step-daughter's visits now because I don't know what is going to happen between the two of them. I'd appreciate any advice ....
First I would suggest not focusing so much on this as a behavior issue. Trying to get someone with autism to not act autistic around your son is like asking someone with the stomach flu not to throw up. Your son wont learn negative behaviors or feel disliked by his sister as he grows up if you're good about explaining autism and what it is to him. She is not going to change or likely get much better so for now you probably just have to work with her the way that she is. As the mother of an ASD child I've had to learn that my best bet is always to accept my son as he is and do my best to educate everyone else so that they don't take some of his actions or words personally, they never are personal attacks really. I wish that I had something more encouraging to post. This exact situation is exactly why I am afraid to ever have more children so my heart really goes out to you.
Thank you for the reply, SaraAnn. I've actually had a talk with her this past weekend and she explained to me how she feels when she is around him and why she "yelled" at him at dinner. Turns out that she was afraid he was going to grab her food and choke on it! I think the problem lies more with me than her now and I need to try to understand her feelings and how she handles herself rather than try to change or "fix" the situation. I know it isn't going to be easy and probably will involve seperating him from her until he does get older so we can all better enjoy her visits. Thank you for replying to me.!
Also, SaraAnn... I wanted to also add this.. I feel so bad that you are afraid of having another child. Actually, my step-daughter was very loving and happy when her little brother was born and these behaviors only started as he entered the "terrible 2's" phase... more crying, and tantrums than before. I am hopeful that this is a rough patch that we will get through. And as my husband has said, once he's a little older, I think they will get along great. So I think there is hope that you may be able to have another child if you really one too :)
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