As some of you may have read before I am expecting my second child. Something I didn’t think was an option for a while. My son J has kept me busy enough for the past 13 years, the idea of growing our family seemed like an impossible dream. However, J’s progress has been so consistent and reassuring that I finally felt like our family is ready to grow and J is ready for a sibling.
One of J’s biggest autism related challenges is his auditory sensitivity and anticipated anxiety from triggers like babies and small children. So bringing a major trigger into our home as a permanent presence has everyone in my family a little worried, myself included.
To sedate the worry I’ve been trying to keep J as informed and involved in my pregnancy as I can. He has attended sonograms and doctors appointments with me, he reads his favorite Dr. Seuss books to my belly, and we discuss what being a big brother will be like. This of course is all conceptual and watching him have outburst because of small children as current as today is not the most reassuring sight.
While visiting my 93-year-old grandmother she shared a great idea with me, getting a tangible baby doll that coos and cries to get J used to having a baby in the house. So thanks to grandma’s sage wisdom we have been conducting a little experiment with J.
My parents dropped off a doll they found in Target, unfortunately most baby dolls are girls and J having a baby brother we decided to make the baby look less gender specific. He was very excited when he saw the baby doll in the box, and a look of curiosity turned his lips into a sly smirk. I explained to him that this was a pretend baby doll for him to practice being a big brother.
I showed him how to hold the baby and the importance of supporting the head. He did surprisingly well and was unexpectedly gentle with the doll. He was so happy and excited, when he put the baby doll down he ran, laughed, and jumped around the house. Tomorrow we will turn on the sounds, hopefully the enjoyment of his practice sessions continues.
Would love to hear feedback from other parents who took steps to prepare an older child on the spectrum for a sibling, ideas, experiences or even funny stories.