Are your other children really missing out?
I often hear parents voice their concerns about their other children missing out either due to the behaviours of your autistic child, or because they are being taken from appointment to appointment, or because you have to pay so much attention to your autistic child.
Now an important thing to know about the brain, is it will keep finding evidence of what you put your attention on.
When we are looking at something through the missing out lens, we are only looking at that viewpoint. We are often filtering everything else out.
When in the missing out lens, we are not looking for the hidden good in the bad, what is being experienced instead of the unwanted, where the opportunities are, or what is being learnt.
Your mind is filtering all that out.
What's more, we often feel worse about the situation with distorted thinking like all or nothing thinking, assumptions and catastrophising our thoughts about what's happening for my child.
For example. you might say:
My child won't feel loved or will feel less important.
Because my child said something wasn't fair, we assume this is their permanent stand point.
If I have to say no to my child, they'll automatically think I favour the other one.
I'm NEVER able to give my other children the attention they need.
Their childhood is RUINED by what's happening.
These assumptions and over-dramatisations are going to affect how you feel and how you behave when you feel this way.
The first thing we need to do before you even attempt to balance things out between your children, is get an accurate viewpoint of what's happening for your other children and what their needs really are.
What is it they are really needing right now?
How are they actually perceiving what goes on in the household. Do they understand what's going on?
What is my children's love language (acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time or gifts). Knowing this can help you to deliver the love they need in a way they can receive it, not the way you think they need it.
What does giving them 'more' look like exactly?
How much time will it take to start implementing a little bit more of these wants/needs into my day or week?
What do I need to communicate to them to help them to get a healthy understanding of the time that I spend on other areas of running the home.
How can I continue to let them know that I'm thinking about them? (often it's the smaller details you do, not just the copious amounts of quality time you give them).
Can you see how these questions make you a lot more solution focussed?
When you are looking through that missing out lens you can easily fall into dramatising what's going on for your child.
Maybe they only sometimes feel things are unfair.
Maybe they're only needing a little encouragement or acknowledgement or showing interest here and there about their lives too.
Maybe they like that they get special treatment when you try to compensate for them having to go to yet another appointment.
Maybe they get it and are understanding of what you need to do and know that you love them.
Maybe they don't feel like they're missing out at all (at least no more than any other child complains about missing out, lol).
And that's another point, are they complaining any more than any other kid complains they are missing out?
Before you address trying to 'balance things out' or 'make up for what is happening' perhaps first establish what need needs to be met by knowing how your child is actually perceiving the events they are experiencing.
If you'd like some more information on anxiety in autism, why not watch our free webinar. It covers topics on helping with the parent/carer's mental health, understanding an autistic child's emotions, helping other children and relationships in the family.