Where is the bond?

There’s nothing I want more than my girls being each others best friend. My younger sister is my best friend and that’s what I want for them. Now will their relationship look like the relationship I have with my sister? More than likely not but as far as I know, having autism doesn’t mean you can’t have a best friend.

Lately I haven’t seen this bond forming as I had hoped it would. I know, they are still so young. I need to give it time. I also know that what I’ve been seeing instead is probably very typical. But because of “autism”, i struggle with it.

Courtney vocalizes a lot. She vocalized when happy, when sad, when frustrated, when mad. Some times her vocalizations sound like she is trying to sing a song or replaying a favorite video. Sometimes you may even hear an actual word. Her vocalizations aren’t that loud but can be very constant at times. Alyssa thinks her vocalizations are not only loud but annoying. So there are times during the day when Alyssa will start yelling at Courtney any time she vocalized. “Stop it, Courtney”, “too loud, Courtney”, “I don’t like that, Courtney”. And in every case Alyssa ends up being the louder one.

Alyssa and I have had several talks about this. We’ve talked about how this is Courtney’s way to communicate. We’ve talked about nice ways to tell Courtney to be quiet. We’ve talked about how unless she is super loud, Courtney can make her vocalizations. We’ve talked about how she can wear headphones or even go in to another room.

I want to acknowledge that these vocalizations bother Alyssa. I want her to know that in our world that revolves around autism, her feelings matter. The last thing I want is Alyssa to resent her sister. But honestly, most of the time, the vocalizations are not loud at all and I truly feel Alyssa is being unfair.

The other day it happened. Alyssa said something that broke my heart. She said something that I am pretty sure every 3 year old (even me) has said to a sibling. But hearing her say it to her sister with special needs stung and it stung hard. Courtney was making her noises and Alyssa was getting mad. Suddenly she screamed loudly, “I hate you, Courtney” and then hit her.

Where is that bond I wanted them to have? What am I doing wrong? How can I do a better job facilitating their sister bond?

Yes, a very common interaction on this age but here’s the difference. The one receiving the mean words can’t defend herself. The one saying the mean words is the younger sister but only by age. As a little 3 year old, she is already expected to be the older one of the two, expected to understand things that most 3 year olds can’t comprehend, and expected to put up with things that not everyone has to put up with such as being bit, scratched, and hit. What if those words truly become how Alyssa feels? Yes, I’m pretty sure I said those exact words to my sister/best friend but the difference is, her and I both had the ability to make up.

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