My five year old, Tanis, is neurotypical. That means that she’s not on the autism spectrum. I attended a seminar that labeled children like Tanis “Sandwich Kids” because they get sandwiched by the disabilities of their sibling or siblings. Often, they do not get the attention that they feel they deserve because of all the attention focused on the child or children with a disability. She truly is a sandwich kid, squeezed in the middle by an older brother with neurofibromatosis and aspergers and a younger brother with autism. She is just about as social and talkative as they come, so I decided to share some of her thoughts with you.
What do you think about your brothers?
They’re good. Sometimes Roman pulls my hair. I don’t like that when Roman pulls my hair.
Is Roman normal to you?
I think he’s different because most three year olds talk and he doesn’t talk.
If Roman could talk, what would he say?
Well, his first words would be tiny words like cat and dog and Boo (our dog). He’ll only go to three words because they’ll be little when he starts words. So they will only go up to three letters in the word.
Do you want Roman to talk?
Yeah. Because then we will know he is growing up. I want him to talk so he won’t just say “mmmmm” all the time anymore.
Do you think Roman’s medicine will help him?
Yeah. I think it will make him say words up to ten letters long.
If you could change something about your brothers what would it be?
It would be that Tycen would play with me more instead of playing his video games a lot. I think what I would change about Roman is for him not to pull my hair.
Do you love your brothers?
Yeah. I love Roman because he just being himself. I love it when he is just being himself. And Tycen, I think he’s just good. He teaches me math and science even before I was even a kindergartner.
And then, she was gone, off to play with Tycen. I learn everyday from the way Tanis treats her brothers. As she mentioned, sometimes they are bothersome, just like any other brother would be to his sister. Sometimes they ignore her. Sometimes, though, they play together nicely and learn from each other. I don’t think that Tanis’s sibling experience is much different than most kids and I think we can learn from her in that she sees her brothers as just that: brothers.