It’s Not a Race

I think we are about to hit an interesting phase of our family. The younger apparently neurotypical siblings are about to reach certain developmental milestones before their big sister does.

 Little boy has just about mastered his daytime toilet learning. One of our first signs that he was physically ready for this achievement was that his diaper was staying dry overnight. Just about every night his pull-up is dry, and when this box is used up one way or another, I don’t plan to buy more. Big sister still needs pull-ups at night, and there’s no getting around it. Those underjam alternatives for bigger kids would be wholly inadequate to the task. Most nights her pull-up is wet…not just wet, soaked. It’s not from drinking too much liquid at night. She sleeps very soundly (of which I am very glad). It is sometimes hard to get her to sleep, but once she is asleep it is hard to wake her up. I have read that this is a physiological change that occurs in the kidney/brain connection, so I think it is purely a physical difference.

Little girl is still resisting the whole toilet learning phase, but her language is pretty much on par with big sister’s. The child may have a slightly larger vocabulary, but little sister is equally competent in answering questions, social language, telling a story, and expressing her own ideas. They compete for conversational space at the dinner table, and can both carry their side of a conversation on the phone, with a little prompting. How much longer will it be before little sis is ahead in this area?

Even as I decided that I should write about this new era for our family, I’ve been probing my own reaction to it. The child was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder six months after her twin siblings were born. At the time I remember thinking that eventually they would catch up and surpass her at least in some areas of development…I don’t think I dreamed that we would see it take more than three years. Thanks to intense language, behavioral, and occupational therapy interventions, her progress has been steady. If anything her siblings have helped to push her along on the developmental curves. I think I also expected either her or them to be dismayed that the younger would outpace the older. So far they all continue to accept that this is just the way things are. I am glad that I’ve taken the steps to begin talking with the child about her differences because this, I think, will ease any concerns that might arise. I am also realizing that for now, at least, I am not as bothered as I thought I would be with who gets to what point first. As I tell my kids when they are elbowing for pole position on the sidewalk, “It’s not a race!” As long as they each continue to progress, steadily marking off steps toward happy healthy interdependence, I think this mommy’s heart will be happy, too.

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